National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show is a behemoth conference that is both exhilarating and exhausting. It’s a good thing our Midan team members were up to the task of tasting their way through the maze of booths and sitting in on great educational sessions, to discover what’s trending in foodservice, especially meat.
Here are Midan’s top 5 takeaways:
1. Trust and Transparency are Tops.
Consumer trust is still elusive. There is a bias against size and scale in agriculture, a perception that “big ag” and family farms do not share the same values. Consumers think that large farms are more likely than small farms to put their own interests ahead of consumer interests.
(Charlie Arnot, CEO, The Center for Food Integrity, A Clear View On Transparency: How It Builds Consumer Trust)
2. Local is Trendy, but Fuzzy.
This wariness of big farming has helped fuel the “locally sourced” trend. Consumers want local because there is a lack of trust in our food system. Consumers don’t trust big food or completely understand food labels, but they can comprehend and get behind “local” and they associate it with higher quality, even though there is no universal definition for local.
(Townsend Bailey, Director, Supply Chain Sustainability, McDonald’s USA, LLC, Where’s the Beef: Eco-Protein Trends Explained)
3. The Story Matters.
Consumers want to know and understand where their food comes from. The exhibiting meat companies at NRA did a great job telling their unique stories, from FPL’s Georgia farming traditions to Meats by Linz’ investment in their own herd of registered Angus cattle to Niman Ranch’s pasture-raised hogs.
Restaurant menus are the new storybooks. U.S. adults who will spend more at restaurants in 2016 than they did in 2015 will be reading menus and looking for:
- Natural items – 54%
- Sustainable items – 48%
- Organic items – 47%
- Seasonal items – 47%
(Stacy Glasgow, Consumer Trends Consultant, and Jenny Zegler, Global Food & Drink Analyst, Mintel, Consumer Trends in Foodservice and Beyond)
4. Premium is In.
Quality. Quality. Quality. Every meat company did a brilliant job showcasing high quality products. Gone are our post-recession days of cheap meat; quality is the new normal.
5. Fat is Back.
Marbling reigned supreme in all of the meat companies’ exhibits! Fat is back and it’s appreciated by discriminating restaurant operators who want flavorful options to wow their patrons. From Superior Farms’ flavorful lamb bacon to Compart Foods’ dry-aged pork porterhouse, meat companies are focusing on fat.
6. Charcuterie is Hot.
Olli and Zoe’s Meats were two of many charcuterie companies showcasing their slow-cured meats. Charcuterie remains one of the hottest meat menu trends. Salami, anyone?