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Dining Trends for 2010

Published: April 25, 2010 | Updated: April 25, 2010
The food service is experiencing several trends for 2010, with consumer preferences having strong influences on the market.

The National Restaurant Association’s annual survey of professional chefs found local sourcing of ingredients, sustainability and nutrition were expected to be the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2010. Other trend predictions included nutritious meals for kids, half-portions, farm-branded ingredients, gluten-free/food-allergy conscious meals and sustainable seafood.

"The top trends this year – local sourcing, sustainability and nutrition – reflect wider societal trends and consumers’ growing interest in these issues. Many restaurants are sourcing some of their ingredients locally, and you often see chefs shopping at farmer’s markets to create a host of better-for-you options that today’s diners want." said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the Association.

Michael Ty, CEC, AAC, ACF national president, agreed. “This is retro – it’s what we did in the past when chefs relied on local markets because we did not have the luxury of today’s transportation system. We are going back to our roots and the foundation of our craft that made it more pleasurable.”

The concept of sustainability was ranked as the third hottest trend. For produce, meat and seafood, environmentally friendly practices and local sourcing are appealing to both restaurant operators and consumers.

Nutrition is another culinary theme that ranks high on the list of trends at number 15. Healthful options for children, produce, superfruits, bite-size and half portions, and food allergy conscious and gluten-free meals all rank in the top 20, illustrating that consumer interest in health and nutrition continues to grow and that restaurants are responding.

Among menu trends for 2010 are increased use of local branded ingredients such as farm, estate or fishermen's products, regional ethnic cuisine and non-traditional fish and seafood. Diners are reporting better availability of new presentations. Entrees that feature whole fish are gaining popularity, including some head-on presentations.

Simplicity and smaller portions for a smaller price have become popular menu options for 2010, as consumer preferences seek value during the economic downturn.