Locally-sourced food dominates National Restaurant Association’s top trends list for 2014

This is the third consecutive year local food was the most important item on the menu according to the NRA’s national survey of over 1,300 chefs.

The demand for locally-sourced food is not going away – it is growing. For the third year in a row, local food topped the list of most important menu trends according to a National Restaurant Association survey of professional chefs. Not only is locally-sourced food top on the list, it appears four times in the top ten. Below is the list, developed from survey data collected from over 1,300 culinary professionals.

  1. Locally-sourced meats and seafood
  2. Locally-grown produce
  3. Environmental sustainability
  4. Healthful kids’ meals
  5. Gluten-free cuisine
  6. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
  7. Children’s nutrition
  8. Non-wheat noodles/pasta (e.g. quinoa, rice, buckwheat)
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. Farm/estate-branded items

This trend should grab the attention of farmers and food producers – especially those that live near a “farm-to-table” restaurant. The time is right for farmers and food producers to contact the head chef of area restaurants and tell them about your products. Sometimes this only takes one phone call – sometimes it takes much more effort.

MSU Extension’s Community Food Systems Workgroup has been working for the past two years to educate consumers on how to source local produce. Michigan State University Extension and the MSU Product Center also work with farmers and food producers on how to promote their products to local markets, which include: restaurants, farmers markets, schools and hospitals. Over the past several years, we have observed strong growth in the demand for local food. However, building new business relationships takes time and all parties have to be willing to work together and communicate regularly to manage delivery, supply, pricing, food safety practices/handling and packaging.

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