Transparency and trust will make their way onto menus next year as consumer awareness of sustainability continues to rise.
“Consumers will ask questions about the food they are buying [and] demand to know more about the contents and source of the food they eat and the impact on their health and the environment,” noted NPD Group, which has published its five eating out trends to watch next year.
Operators have started to offer more information about ingredients in terms of allergies and nutrition, but consumers are hungry for more. “The best operators will provide the answers,” said NPD, and will be expected to address key concerns, like the use of disposable packaging.
Menus will also be slimmed down, with the most successful companies likely to focus on “what they do best”, NPD noted.
NPD, perhaps unsurprisingly, also forecast growth in veganism and vegetarianism. NPD’s Crest panel data shows that OOH flexitarian visits have increased at twice the rate of overall market growth in the past three years. Among 16- to 34-year-olds, overall visits have declined by 3% since 2015, but flexitarian visits within this age group are up 4%.
Whilst some operators have failed to adapt because they see veganism and vegetarianism as a short-term fad, others have evolved their menus already, NPD noted. The winners will be those providing a balanced menu with the right choices for vegans and vegetarians while not alienating meat-eaters.
“Veganism and vegetarianism are not just passing fads,” said Dominic Allport, the company’s insights director. “Consumers are also more aware than ever of key sustainability issues and are asking where products come from and how a foodservice outlet is helping the wider environment.”
Virtual restaurants, usually run from “dark kitchens” owned by the aggregators such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats, will also “take off” as consumers “cocoon themselves indoors” bingeing on Netflix.