Consumers Seek Comfort Food

February 15, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Food & Restaurants | Magazines | Retail & E-Commerce

Consumers will seek out “comfort foods” such as sausage, fried foods and tavern fare in 2010, according to the Top List of 2010 Menu Trend Predictions from Flavor & the Menu magazine.

Other predicted trends include a desire for reasonable pricing and casual setting.

Top 10 Menu Trends for 2010

  • Top ethno-cuisine trend: Worldly sandwiches. Consumers will favor ethnic/regional sandwiches from around the globe, such as Cubanos, as opposed to traditional American sandwiches such as ham and cheese.
  • Top sauce trend: Chile-fired sauces. Consumers will want sauces layered with several types of chiles and infused with heat in different ways.
  • Top menu-making trend: Blue plate updates. Consumers will desire casual dining formats that boost value and enhance the dining experience, such as family-style dinners, Sunday suppers and other chef-driven ideas.
  • Top technique trend: Deep fried. Fried foods fit with casual dining- and bar-driven (see below) trends. Consumers will seek foods such as fried chicken, hush puppies and fresh donuts.
  • Top concept trend: American tavern. This revival is bringing about a new standard of pub fare, in concept and menu focus. Pared-down menus will be more hand-crafted, offering reasonably priced, flavor-focused food and drinks that are distinctly American.
  • Top ingredient trend: Signature sausages. Signature sausages are showing up as ingredients in proprietary recipes, house-made and artisan sausages are increasingly popular as center-plate options, and hot dogs are becoming increasingly sophisticated with premium ingredients, buns and condiments.
  • Top culinary trend: Rustic revolution. Essentially meaning comfortable and affordable, “rustic” encompasses everything from farmhouse tables and pared-down decor to foraged foods, farmstead cheeses and regional, home-style cooking.
  • Top dining trend: Global grab-and-go. Kebabs, dosas, crepes, gorditas and vada puri are being reinterpreted in limited-menu formats to provide take-out meals for younger, thrill-seeking consumers.
  • Top dessert trend: Sentimental sweets. Even the most sophisticated pastry chefs are interpreting traditional childhood sweets such as cupcakes, cookies, whoopie pies and popsicles. The soft economy is increasing the popularity of traditional desserts with consumers.
  • Top beverage trend: Booze-free buzz. Inspired by the popularity and profitability of specialty cocktails, restaurateurs are taking the “virgin” drink category more seriously.

Casual Dining Drives Expected Restaurant Sales Growth

The U.S. restaurant industry should see a 2.5% increase in sales during 2010 compared to 2009, according to the 2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast from the National Restaurant Association (NRA). As reported by Retailer Daily, the study projects without adjustment for inflation, industry sales will reach $580 billion, compared to about $566 billion in 2009.

The quick service segment is expected to slightly outperform the full-service segment this year. Using current dollars, quick service restaurant sales are expected to grow 3%, from $160 billion to $164.8 billion. In comparison, sales in the full service segment are expected to grow 1.2%, from $182 billion to $184.2 billion.

In addition, locally produced food should be a growing trend this year. Study results indicate that 70% of consumers say they are more likely to visit restaurants that offer locally produced food, and nearly 75% say they are trying to eat healthier in restaurants now than they did two years ago.

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