Summer food trends
August 07 2014
There are many different reasons as to why certain food and drink becomes more popular on menus and among consumers, whether this is due to popular culture or a particular event or season.
With the latter, summer sees certain foods rise in popularity as individuals choose different options to mark the warmer weather. Here is a guide to some of the food and drink that experts in the foodservice industry predict will gain traction among consumers.
Arguably a harbinger of summer, operators can expect that salads will grow in prominence in this season. Not only are they light, but they also boast a favourable nutritional profile. There is also a wealth of possibilities when it comes to toppings and flavours. For instance, quinoa is a hot food trend at the moment and also gluten-free. Other ancient grains such as chia seeds are also good bets for summer foods as they fulfil the criteria of being healthy and innovative.
Other so-called superfoods like kale are very much on trend at the moment and make a good addition to a salad. California Pizza Kitchen uses it in one of its dishes, alongside watermelon, strawberries, field greens, feta and pistachios, all covered in Champagne vinaigrette.
Fresh fruit such as raspberries, watermelons and blueberries are also seen as signs of the season and could enhance consumer appeal with their sweet-tasting properties.
Nation's Restaurant News reports that beets, apple and fennel have also found their way into more salads as of late, while the inclusion of nuts is also something that is featuring on menus across North America.
The very concept of healthy eating is an interesting one because while many are fans of choosing a dish with a strong nutritional profile when they're dining out, others can be less concerned seeing as a restaurant is often an occasion to treat themselves.
An article from the Wall Street Journal suggests that despite the general increased awareness about the content of the food the nation is eating, ranch salad dressing is still extremely popular among individuals and is one for operators to bear in mind.
Another hallmark of this season is a BBQ - a group of friends or a family dining al fresco and enjoying the fragrant smells emanating as various items of meat sizzle away. While this experience is difficult for a restaurant to engineer, the notion of BBQ sandwiches is a possibility - and a popular one at that, according to research from the NPD Group.
This dish is particularly popular among men in the 18 to 34, 35 to 44 and 55 to 64-year-old age ranges, with pork and beef as the filling being the ones that have gained the most traction, Restaurant Central reports.
Iced drinks were also shown to be a firm favourite among many and this is to be expected, considering many like to sit outside and enjoy the sun, and find that hot drinks are maybe not as suitable for these conditions.
Iced tea is particularly popular among the younger generations, as are iced coffees - especially among women. Smoothies also fared well in the survey, potentially because these are not only cold and refreshing, but also appeal to the health-conscious consumer.
Another type of drink that is popular at this time of year is alcoholic beverages, with cider in particular performing well as data from GuestMetrics showed how cider sales leapt by 40 per cent in 2012.
Due to the drink's refreshing nature, operators are advised to ensure they jump on this bandwagon to make sure they don't miss out on these sales in the warmer months. With beer gardens being a hallmark of summer to many, restaurants and bars need to have a sufficient range of alcoholic beverages on tap for consumers to enjoy.
Operators often need to be one step ahead of the competition if they want to entice diners through their doors this summer and a knowledge of what's hot and what's likely to be popular is one way to ensure this.