Although Canadians and Brits are still suffering from lingering effects of the recession, people in both countries are beginning to dine out again. A short breakdown on what will keep diners coming to restaurants in 2011.
Local produce, breakfast foods, fast-casual and US chains are the trends that will attract diners to restaurants in the new year, according to a report that will be released by food service industry consultancy Technomic on December 18.
What diners are looking for:
Locally sourced meals
Both in Canada and across the pond in the UK, people are increasingly interested in local produce and foods, which is also inherently linked to less than perfect economic situations - people are now more than ever concerned with supporting their local economies, which means buying locally-sourced foods.
Another area that concerns Canadian and British diners is sodium - Restaurants across both countries will be forced to respond to growing concerns about high salt levels in restaurant fare, which has pushed many people to cook at home. In an effort to attract diners, Technomic expects low-sodium menu options to become commonplace in 2011. British consumers will be especially interested in "functional" foods made with special ingredients touted as immunity boosters (think spirulina).
Diners are looking for both good food and convenience. For those with busy lifestyles, cooking breakfast often gets put on the backburner. In response to this, a greater number of restaurants and fast food chains are serving breakfast, including many chains that previously did not offer it. This is a key area where salty options (breakfast meats and hash browns/potatoes) will get a healthy revamp.
UK consumers are very interested in Mexican cuisine, which Technomic expects to grow in popularity in 2011 through the recent entry of US-based burrito king Chipotle Mexican Grill. UK chains like Wahaca and Benito's Hat are also increasingly popular. On the other hand, Canadians have become increasingly interested in a number of ethnic cuisines - from Mexican to Southeast Asian, and are especially interested in non-traditional dessert. Mexican churros and French Macarons have seen popularity on Canadian menus in 2010, and are expected to increase their presence in 2011. Even classic desserts like ice cream are expected to be reformatted to feature ethnic flavors like dulce de leche and ginger.
Fast-Casual and US chains
With the American economy still in shambles, many US chains are looking both north and across the pond. Canadians and Brits are both open to dining in these chains, and among these chains "fast-casual" are the biggest winners. Fast-casual venues are somewhere between a proper sit-down restaurant and a fast-food joint-They offer good quality food quickly (no full table-service) and at affordable prices ($6-$15) with a casual, but clean and comfortable atmosphere (like the Nando's Chicken Restaurants chain).
Canadians will also be interested in food trucks - which will enter the market from the US, where they've enjoyed massive popularity. Food trucks serve portable and convenient ethnic fast food and super low prices - Korean tacos and Mexican fare exploded in the US in 2010. Vegetarian will also experience a Canadian revival, as a large number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants enter the scene.
Some UK-specific trends include pubs - many pubs are now undergoing a family-friendly makeover, shifting focus to food, gourmet coffee and snacks, following growing national concern over alcohol abuse.