Food trends are in a constant state of flux – it’s the nature of trends, after all. These days, it seems that the one thing every restaurant diner wants to know is, “is it local?” Whether it comes fresh from the farmer’s market or through locally-sourced vendors at the supermarket, people want to know where their food comes from. According to a new trend study, restaurants are also on board with the trend – the amount of restaurants claiming “local” sources has risen by 13 percent over the past year.
The study was conducted by Mintel Foodservice, and examined foodservice trends coming into 2011. The results showed that far more restaurants are making fresh, local, seasonal ingredients a major selling point of their menus. This push toward local cuisine isn’t without reason – the demand for locally sourced products is massive. Mintel also reports that 58 percent of diners today hope to see more local ingredients on restaurant menus.
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“Serving the best of the season communicates freshness and a ‘get-it-now’ urgency,” said Mintel foodservice analyst Kathy Hayden in the related press release. “Perhaps most importantly, indigenous ingredients help the migration away from overly processed food toward more recognizable and simpler ingredients sourced closer to home.”
Where does it go from here? Mintel predicts that this trend will trickle down to franchises and chain restaurants. Mintel points out chains such as Popeye’s and Burgerville, who have seen recent success by refocusing their menus on more regional cuisine. Still others may attempt to follow in the footsteps of franchises like Chipotle and In-n-Out, who make a point to source their ingredients locally and sustainably whenever possible. However it’s implemented, a shift toward locally sourced ingredients is sure to make diners happy, wherever “local” is to them.