2015 Trends Checklist

2015 is here, are you ready to serve up the New Year’s most top anticipated trends?
For most of you, I am betting you are just trying to survive wrapping up the holiday season before you can even digest and plan for the upcoming year. With that in mind, we are packaging up all the trends to watch and plan for to make it just a tad bit easier on you – rather than having to scramble through all those magazines and emails. We collected pages and pages of trend predictions from Technomic, Sterling-Rice Group, Baum + Whiteman and Andrew Freeman & Co., broke them down by category and trend, and packaged them for you to pick and choose what to focus on next.


Sugar Me Simple: Natural sugar alternatives are being explored industry-wide from agave to coconut sugar. Business are endlessly seeking the best-for-you sugar solutions that keeps things tasting sweet but also answer the call for healthier alternatives to artificial sweeteners and cane sugar.
Takeaway: Test before you switch over!

Artisanal Candy: There are fruit candies and then there is pâte de fruit. The latter is a fancier French version of sticky, sugary goodness, and it’s one of many gourmet candy options that are raising the bar of everyday sweets. Pastry chefs are exploring candy more and more, extending it to their dessert-making repertoire.
Takeaway: If you have a pastry chef, this is an easy upsell.

Soft Serve 2.0: Tart frozen yogurt was all the rage the last few years, but gelato and sorbet are making swirls in soft serve machines, opening the door for more creative and indulgent flavors.
Takeaway: Time to diversify your flavors.

Savory Sweets: Pancakes, crêpes, ice cream, you name it, and savory flavors such as corn, beet, squash and sweet potato are changing the sweet game.
Takeaway: There’s a market for everything, just make sure it exists for you. Also, the keyword is “Balance.”

Adult Shakes, Granitas & Slushes: Boozy beverages are all the rage, especially when they combine with dessert! Vanilla Bourbon Milkshake, anyone?
Takeaway: Find a way to add some spirits to desserts and make it drinkable.

Street Desserts: Tacos, panini sandwiches, deep fried anything, desserts on a stick. Street fair fare is a growing endeavor, and its nice because it’s all on-the-go.
Takeaway: Easy dessert innovations start with some of the most basic desserts out there.

Technology & Innovation

SmartPay & Mobile Play: Paying with your smartphone isn’t new to the likes of Starbucks, but it’s a sure-fire sign of what’s to come, especially with the launch of ApplePay. And that’s not the only thing you can do with a smartphone; think mobile ordering, coupon sharing, loyalty point scans and promotional texts, etc.
Takeaway: Smartphones will be a part of your business in the near furture; start thinking about how.

Tablets and Self-Service Kiosks: Who need waiters and cashiers when a tablet or kiosk can do it all, especially when the threat of minimum wage increases are on the rise! Well, not quite, but it answers the call for consumers to precisely order what they want and take control of their experience.
Takeaway: This is your call; technology or personalized service? You be the judge!

Weird Science: Flavor pills, scent confusion, new experiences and technologies that can alter the way we eat are making waves in the industry. The concept carries the idea that a pill or scent can alter the taste of what we are eating confusing us to think it’s sweeter, more flavorful, etc.
Takeaway: Wait for some more research, maybe.

Gaming: Tablets at the table aren’t just for ordering. Restaurants are adding them to keep patrons entertained in addition to the age-old trivia gaming consoles, and even putting in physical games such as skee ball or a giant Connect-the-Dots games.
Takeaway: If you are looking for an experience and to entertain, gaming may be an option.


Give me an “L-T-O”: In the age-old laws of economics, part of creating demand is limited access to a good, and LTOs are thriving based on this and the opportunity to try new hybrid versions of tried and true products.
Even LTO restaurants are popping up, coined the
“Pop-up” restaurant.
Takeaway: Try new products as LTOs first, then see if they have longevity.

Natural Ain’t So Pretty After All: The classic story of “The Ugly Duckling” emerged in a great marketing campaign called Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables by French supermarket chain Intermarché, which highlighted that perfection in nature doesn’t really exist. It shone a light on how consumers’ perceptions of food have become so manufactured that they often discredit what’s really natural because it doesn’t look nice.
Takeaway: Looks are deceiving; make it taste good!


Insta-Reviews: “Insta” for Instagram is the new “selfie” for anything and everything, and your establishment and food are the targets for sharing experiences. This of course includes every social media outlet, dining review site and so forth, but you need to be aware that you are now a celebrity and your customers are paparazzi sharing the good, bad and ugly within minutes of entering your space. You need to be on social media, monitoring it and engaging with your audience.
Takeaway: Monitor, Monitor, Monitor!

Uber Researchers: “I’ll find you” is a phrase made popular by the movie “Wedding Crashers,” and its creepiness extends to consumers’ endless efforts to find out everything there is to know about anything, and that extends to food and restaurants. Businesses have a corporate responsibility to be upfront about what they are all about and own it. Takeaway: Put it all out there and stay true to who you are!

Generational Chaos: Millennial reports are everywhere, but the truth is all generations matter and want the dining experience catered to them. Establishments will need to make a real effort to provide something for everyone, from atmosphere to offerings.
Takeaway: Make sure you have a little something to
offer everyone!

Schedule-less Snacking: Reports the last few years have shown that snacking is up, with consumers constantly on-the-go. Diminishing are standard breakfast, lunch and dinner hours, paving the way for open schedules for eating. The idea is to cater to all dayparts.
Takeaway: Segmenting hours for certain food types may be a thing of the past.

Service Models

Pick-a-Portion: Are tapas in or do people want to have food that can be their own: as Chef Lee Wolen states in an interview with Food & Wine? The verdict – they want it all and they want the option of both. Many restaurants are offering multiple portion sizes, and this is a trend that will continue to grow as people watch not only their consumption, but also make the case for unnecessary disposal of food.
Takeaway: Where you can, consider breaking your menu down further by offering portion choices.

Fit-to-Diet Options: Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-based, paleo-friendly, organic – make-it-your-way health options to cater to all consumer needs is on the rise. It can be a timely and costly endeavor, but allows you to serve a larger audience.
Takeaway: See next point, then make a decision.

Take It or Leave It: On the flip side, some businesses are simply saying no to altering menus, changing and altering dishes, and customizing meals. It’s not that they are trying to turn away customers, rather that they want to stick to what they do and do it well. Altering menu items and catering to needs in the moment can lead to a lesser product, and they aren’t willing to take the risk. It’s also costly, as restaurants must refine recipes in advance to be able to cater to
every need.
Takeaway: Ultimately stay true to what you do.

Foodservice Overload: From the undefined line between QSR/Fast Casual/Full Service to Clothing Retailer Restaurants, Convenience and Grocerants, the options for consumers are unlimited, with everywhere providing snacks and meals to them. It’s a great revenue addition for nontraditional locations but fosters more competition. Takeaway: Watch for new segments of competitors.

Dinner is the Show: It used to be go to dinner, then tickets get to the show, but are nonrefundable tickets for restaurants in lieu of reservations needed now too? Well, it does cut down on no-shows and allows for more precise food costs per day, but on the flip side it does leave an aura of exclusivity.
Takeaway: It must make sense for your food model, probably more for fine dining establishments.

Table Drama: Consumers want to know that their food is fresh-made, so what better way to prove that then to create dining with views to the kitchen or have servers and chefs come tableside to complete meals. Think hibachi steakhouses and table-prepared guacamole on steroids for all dishes.
Takeaway: Personalized service and entertainment with food are exciting for consumers; research even one way to infuse this into your model.

Flavors, Herbs & Spices

Bitter Bettys and Sour Pusses: According to Technomic, palates are taking a trip to the bitter side with more product development surrounding items such as darker coffees and chocolates, collard greens, hoppy beers and cocktails sprinkled with bitters. Sour is also on the rise with pickled everything including watermelon.
Takeaway: Palates taste bitter, sour, salty and sweet; isn’t it time we played with all the taste buds?

Asian 2.0: The Sterling-Rice Group captured this trend which is on nearly every report with their 2.0 title. Asian has been coming for years, but a deeper penetration into the cuisine and flavors is emerging. Korean, Vietnamese and Thai are showing Asian has wings well beyond sushi and Chinese-American dishes.
Takeaway: The next coming of Asian foods are here; if you don’t want to add a full dish, think of simple infusions.

MaryJane Comes to Play: The legalization of marijuana is already having a big impact in Colorado, and other states ramping up to legalize the plant have entreprenuers waiting to open brownie and cookie shops galore.Culinary cannabis research is on the rise.
Takeaway: “The Munchies” are profitable.

Unchartered Foods Are Put on the Map: Until Lewis & Clark explored and wrote about it, parts of the U.S. weren’t acknowledged, and chefs are doing the same for cuts of meat, root vegetables and fruits that have always been around but often overlooked. Think cheek and tongue, parsnips and turnips, black sesame and currants.
Takeaway: What’s in your kitchen that’s been overlooked?

Southern Trend: Southern is not going away anytime soon, from indulgent desserts such as red velvet cake and bread puddings to BBQ, grits and biscuits, there’s just something very comforting about the South to consumers.
Takeaway: There’s no reason not to embrace it and weave it into your menu.

Spice Up Your Life: Sure the Spice Girls brought the heat with girl power in the ’90s, but it’s spices like sriracha, chipotle and good ol’ hot sauce that are in the limelight these days. Infused in nearly every facet of foods from chocolates to chips, bringing the heat is where it’s at.
Takeaway: Spice up your menu!


A Beverage to Call My Own: Signature beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are making the case for inclusion in restaurant menus as they have the same pull as a signature dish. They provide a specific reason to go to the restaurant, even if only for a drink.
Takeaway: Time to develop a drink.

Endless Options: Erring more on the cocktail side, but not to discredit non-alcoholic drinks, options are emerging from flavored whiskeys and vodkas to drinkable desserts and fruity beers.
Takeaway: Variety is the spice of life.

Tea Time: No longer an afternoon British hour, hot and cold teas are the top beverages consumed in the world, surpassing coffee! Tea is making its way into everything from alcohol flavors to
ice cream.
Takeaway: You should have tea somewhere on your menu!

Shots, Shots, Shots: Shots disguised as mini cocktails are a growing movement. The concept is the ability to try more options and experiment more. Think cocktail flights.
Takeaway: Mini is a trend that lives on.