Cost and consumer austerity are driving menu choices, according to FCSI (Food-service Consultants Society International) and Allegra Strategies, writes Lesley Foottit. Their Taste of the Future report identified a rise in the popularity of wheat and vegetable based dishes as well as more snacking and food on the go, which it estimates will account for 70% of food intake in the next 10 years. As a result of the cost of red meat rising, chicken dishes are becoming more popular. “Chicken is becoming more affordable,” said Simon Stenning, foodservice strategy director at Allegra Strategies. “You can raise a kilo of chicken on half the feed it takes to produce a kilo of beef and on a shorter time scale. That’s why we’re seeing more premium chicken offers, such as at the Tramshed in London, which serves just chicken and beef. Pubs needs to introduce more premium chicken to interest consumers. “Steak specialists in London are still booming be-cause they are offering better quality meat. It is about enticing customers in with a value offer and then encouraging them to trade up.” Stenning said people could be choosing vegetarian options through a desire to be more healthy or to spend less. “It is the ‘flexatarian’ that venues need to cater for,” he said. “They are happy to eat meat-free food but don’t necessarily want it branded as such.” He outlined ways to beat consumer austerity including the use of social media, rigorous training, British produce, encouraging customer loyalty, food quality and good restaurant design. FCSI highlighted austerity as a key issue (52%) with 33% citing it as the biggest risk to the industry over the next few years. Other key issues for the future included value for money (44%), food waste (77%) and sustainability, with 55% citing it as an important trend with the greatest impact on foodservice. Local sourcing was also deemed to be an important trend with 86% saying it will continue to have a serious impact on procurement over the next three to five years.