Local foods continue to top restaurant trends

National Restaurant Association survey identifies the top trends as local foods.

The annual National Restaurant Association survey of American Culinary Federation member chefs is one of the industry’s leading culinary forecasts. Conducted annually in October and November, the survey provides insight into trends which can equate into market opportunities for entrepreneurs. The Association collected data from 1,834 American Culinary Federation member chefs. For the second year in a row, the top trend identified was locally sourced meats and seafood; this was followed by locally grown produce.

These trends point to increasing opportunity for farmers to add value to their operations by direct marketing to local restaurants. Ben Tirrell, Owner of Tirrell Farmstead Specialties in Charlotte, Michigan, has expanded marketing of his farmstead cheese and meat products to local restaurants. Tirrell was selected as the Michigan State University Product Center Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 and was credited for his keen marketing skills with local retailers and restaurants.

Nina Santucci and Anthony Maiale, co-owners of Red Haven, a restaurant in Okemos, are local trendsetters. They pioneered the concept of local food served from their Purple Carrot Truck and after a successful run with the food truck, have now opened a restaurant. The Red Haven menus are based on ingredients from local producers like Tirrell Farmstead Specialties.

The MSU Product Center can provide assistance in business and product development for agricultural producers interested in tapping into the restaurant market as well as food service operations interested in procuring local foods. Innovation counselors located in Michigan State University Extension offices across the state can offer support in these types of entrepreneurial ventures. For additional information visit the MSU Product Center’s website.