Culinary forecast reveals what’s hot in the US

The National Restaurant Association of the US has predicted what the hottest food trends will be in 2016.

The Association surveyed nearly 1,600 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation – to find which foods, beverages and culinary themes will dominate restaurant menus this year.

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association, said: “Chefs and restaurateurs are in tune with over-arching consumer trends when it comes to menu planning, but add their own twist of culinary creativity to drive those trends in new directions. No one has a better view into the window of the future of food trends than the culinary professionals who lead our industry.”

The top 20 food trends for 2016 listed in the Association’s annual ‘What’s Hot’ culinary forecast are:

1. Locally sourced meats and seafood

2. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts

3. Locally grown produce

4. Hyper-local sourcing 

5. Natural ingredients/minimally processed food

6. Environmental sustainability

7. Healthful kids’ meals

8. New cuts of meat 

9. Sustainable seafood

10. House-made/artisan ice cream

11. Ethnic condiments/spices

12. Authentic ethnic cuisine

13. Farm/estate branded items

14. Artisan butchery

15. Ancient grains 

16. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items

17. Fresh/house-made sausage

18. House-made/artisan pickles

19. Food waste reduction/management

20. Street food/food trucks

The top trends in food also extend to the bar, with the hottest alcohol trends including locally produced and craft beer, wine and spirits.

When asked which current food trend has grown the most over the past decade, 44% of the chefs surveyed said local sourcing. Looking forward, 41% said the trend that will grow the most in the next 10 years is environmental sustainability.

Menu items that have gained in trendiness since last year’s survey include African flavours, authentic ethnic cuisine, ethnic condiments/spices, house-made/artisan soft drinks, Middle Eastern flavours and non-traditional liquors.

Items that have lost momentum include kale salads, fresh beans/peas, gluten-free cuisine, quinoa and flower essence in cocktails.

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