What’s on the Menu in 2014?

As with any New Year, there are a number of trends predicted to drive traffic to restaurants over the coming year, and savvy restaurant operators are paying attention.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the dominating trends for 2014, touching on everything from the primary consumer demand—healthy, and preferably locally sourced menu options—to the most viable avenue through which restaurant operators can meet this and other consumer demands profitably: frequent menu updates.

This year for the first time, according to a report by restaurant and foodservice consulting firm AlixPartners LLP, concern with health and nutrition is predicted to displace financial considerations for consumers when it comes to frequency of visits to restaurants. This is forecasted to lead to a slowdown in restaurant visits for consumers, due to a lack of healthy, enticing, varied, and affordably priced menu items in their preferred restaurants.

Financial considerations do continue to be a concern for consumers however, and should not be ignored, and the demand for locally sourced products and produce not only remains as an essential driver for consumers, but it continues to grow apace with consumers’ increasing desire to understand where their food comes from, and how it is prepared.

Innovation will be a key watchword for the year ahead, to meet consumer demand for ever more varied, seasonal, healthy, and diverse menu offerings, and cooking methods are likely to tend toward the more traditional to meet consumers’ continued interest in all things natural, sustainable, and authentic. Sustainability as a whole will also be of great importance to consumers and restaurant operators in the year ahead, with environment sustainability coming in at number three in the NRAs top trends for 2014.

All of the trends forecasted to affect consumers’ behavior in terms of restaurant visits for the year ahead have been growing in popularity over the last few years, however 2014 is likely to see them become deal-makers, or breakers, for consumers, and therefore operators.

In our next post we’ll be focusing on the growing consumer demand for healthy menu choices, and in the meantime you can find more information on what’s ahead for 2014 by downloading our most recent white paper: Meeting Consumer Demand in 2014: Capitalizing on the Increasing Demand for Healthier Menu Choices.