Restaurant trends survey illustrates opportunities for farmers

Chefs and restaurateurs are seeking to source locally grown and produced foods and beverages

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 survey responses from 1,791 American Culinary Federation member chefs asking them to rate 223 individual food items, beverages, cuisines and culinary themes as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on restaurant menus in 2012.

The survey revealed children’s nutrition and local sourcing as the overarching themes that will be the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2012. The demand for sourcing of local foods creates an opportunity for farmers and local businesses to direct market their products to the restaurant industry.

Locally sourced meats and seafood was the number one trend reported in the survey followed by locally grown produce in the number two spot. Locally produced wine and beer ranked eighth in the trend ranking followed by farm/estate branded foods.

Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D. director of Nutrition and Healthy Living for the National Restaurant Association states, “Local sourcing of everything – from meat and fish, to produce, to alcoholic beverages – is another big trend for 2012. Local farms and food producers have become an important source of ingredients for chefs and restaurateurs wishing to support the members of their business community and highlight seasonal ingredients on menus.”

Michael Ty, the American Culinary Federation National President also emphasized the importance of local food in his statement, “Locally sourced food and a focus on sustainability is not just popular among certain segments of consumers anymore; it has become more mainstream. Diners are requesting to know where their food comes from, and are concerned with how their choices affect the world around us.”

The MSU Product Center can provide assistance in business and product development for agricultural producers interested in tapping into the restaurant market. Innovation counselors located across the state can offer support to farmers in these types of entrepreneurial ventures. For additional information visit the MSU Product Center’s website.

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