MCA’s latest insight has identified three new emerging ‘mega trends’ in the eating out sector: convenience, foodie culture and customer technology.

They join healthier eating, indulgence, informality, provenance and sustainability & value scrutiny as the eight mega trends – those influencing all other trends across the eating out sector.

MCA’s Menu & Food Trends 2017 report stresses that convenience is now driving new product development across channels and operators, fuelled by the growth of Food To Go and increasingly time-poor consumers. It says that foodie culture is now seen as the norm across the country, driven by increased travel, experiential needs and food emerging as a determinant of self-identity. Meanwhile, eating out customer technology, whether delivery, ordering or payment, is now having an impact on eating out business models.

In terms of wider influences on the market, demand for authenticity is now an established trend around the UK – fuelling the growth of regional, specialist and adventurous concepts and NPD. The report warns that operators serving inauthentic or undifferentiated food may feel the pressure from this changing consumer preference.

The report also maps ‘hot’ trends – typically those prominent in major cities but yet to prove themselves in the mainstream. These include high protein lifestyles, related to wider health and fitness trends. An addition to ‘emerging’ trends – those on the verge of becoming established – is lower alcohol consumption, which the report predicts will have a major effect on eating out.

Dumplings, poke and seaweed are identified as among top food product trends in 2017, while premium tequila and craft lager are among the warm drinks trends in 2017, following on from the rising popularity of gin and craft pale ales / IPAs.

The data shows American-Italian food, fish & chip shops and greasy spoon cafés among the cuisines under pressure in 2017 as consumers become more adventurous. All-you-can-eat buffets and indulgent food challenges have also peaked in popularity, the report says.

In terms of cuisine trend hotspots, South East Asian, Korean, Taiwanese and Contemporary South Asian concepts and dishes are growing in prevalence, as well as BBQ & North American, Mexican and South American. British, Nordic/Scandinavian, North African and Greek & Eastern Mediterranean cuisines are also identified as growth areas.

MCA Market Analysis Manager, Peter Linden, said: “The eating out market is evolving rapidly, and this is affecting menu development. Trends, including food, drink and lifestyles more broadly, are increasingly complex and originating from a widening set of sources. Food has become a key attribute of consumers’ self-identities, and consumers are keener to stay on top of the evolving trends and seek out concepts tapping into them, which is facilitated by ubiquitous smart phone usage. Operators need to ensure they are aligned to developments in the market and able to respond to rapidly-changing consumer behaviour and demands, or risk becoming left behind and poorly differentiated in a highly competitive market.”

The report also includes a detailed breakdown of views from leading industry figures, as well as analysing menu pricing and composition trends, consumer insight and concepts to watch.

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