NRA 2022 – Trends contributing to the recovery of the restaurant industry


CHICAGO – Food and beverage vendors showcased the latest innovations at the National Restaurant Show held in Chicago on May 21-24. Restaurant operators from around the world, scattered among long-known Windy City brands such as Vienna Beef, Eli’s Cheesecake and Grecian Delight, have selected products that meet consumer trends while at the same time facilitating the fight the industry is facing in terms of work. and economics.

“There’s amazing food all over the world, and we’ve barely scratched the surface,” said Zia Ahmed, senior director of dining at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, during a session on food trends.

As for menu innovation, Dave Henkes, senior director, and Lizzie Fryer, menu research and presentation, both from Chicago Technomic discussed how to “start a business and delight guests” using their five “P’s”. The first “p” is a turn. This involves rethinking the menu without adding too many new ingredients. One approach is to give dishes new flavors or create blends that “combine the known and the unknown,” Ms. Freyer said.

The average number of dishes on restaurant menus has been declining over the past few years, and COVID is forcing restaurants to streamline offerings to focus on products that are profitable and best suited for takeaway and delivery, Mr Henkes said. At the same time, time-limited offers are growing.

“Restaurants are trying to make more for less money,” Mr Henkes added. “It gives consumers something they can enjoy.”

Technical research shows that 42% of consumers are more likely to try a new or unique taste in a restaurant than when cooking at home. Data show that consumers order new or unique products in restaurants more than 25% of the time.

For operators, this can be achieved by adding new flavors to the basic recipe. Vendors at the show showcased labels to help.

For example, MegaMax Foods, Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minion, debuted Tres Cocinas pepper pastes. Concentrated pastes are available in three profiles and are designed to help chefs add a real flavor to Mexican cuisine. Variety of anchovies and pasila differs in shades of dark chocolate and dried fruits. Chipotle pepper paste includes adobo sauce to balance smoke and heat. The third offering is cooked with guaji and pepper spices and provides a balanced, slightly sweet taste with hints of berries.

The second “p”, according to Technomic, is training. Constant problems with supply chains are forcing operators to innovate with unique and diverse preparatory ingredients, Mr Henkes said. This includes everything from freezing a cocktail that is usually served on stones to give it a layered texture, to charring vegetables to give them a deeper flavor.

“Sixty-six percent of consumers rate cooking methods, such as grilled, fried or stewed, as an attractive way to add flavor,” Mr Henkes said.

Savings also help in preparation. Operators looking for ways to offer delicious and innovative menus with reduced staff can turn to products such as fully cooked chorizo ​​crumbs and separately wrapped in paper breaded spicy sandwiches with chicken breasts in the Belgian style from Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark.

Many vendors have shown savings in beverage space, such as premium adult cocktail mixers and a growing category of non-alcoholic cocktails. Robots that produce mixed alcoholic beverages have become more sophisticated, and companies such as J&J Snack Foods Corp., Pensauken, New Jersey, are creating a stream of spirits on their Icee and Slush Puppie machines along with a fruit base mix.

Vegetable proteins are part of the third “p”. And it is not surprising that producers of meat of vegetable origin came out in full at the exhibition. Three participants of the exhibition came from abroad for the first time.

Yo! it is the concept of the vegetable egg.

The Israeli company Yo Foods Ltd. demonstrated Yo !, a concept of plant-based eggs for operators consisting of two parts – protein and yolk – that allows you to cook the concepts of the sunny side up and poaching. White is formulated with peas, and the yolk is based on chickpeas and tinted with carrot powder.

Next Gen Foods offers a Tindle vegetable chicken created for chefs. With global headquarters in Singapore, the company has aggressive expansion plans in the United States. Tindle is a versatile, raw product that chefs can shape everything from cakes to balls and stripes. It gets its flavor from an ingredient called lipi, which is a combination of sunflower oil and natural flavors created to mimic chicken fat.

SavorEat, an Israeli food technology company, has unveiled its robot chef platform, which creates personalized burgers based on plants. With the help of the app, the robot chef allows visitors to customize their pie – a source of protein and fat – and cook it in minutes.

Speaking about food trends, John Lee, vice president of culinary innovation, Wendy’s, Dublin, Ohio, said the health and well-being of people and the planet would continue to support innovation in catering. He cited the acronym FARM, which means fresh, authentic, authentic and minimally processed as a mantra to follow when developing a product.

“If you don’t have a product from a culinary point of view, you’re going to fail,” Mr. Lee said.

When it comes to new plant protein offerings at the show, “every evolution gets better,” he said.

As for dairy products of vegetable origin, the big news was a mixture of ice cream from several companies, including Ripple Foods, Emeryville, California. The liquid product comes in plastic gallon jars with original and vanilla flavors. Operators can use it in soft feed machines or freeze in the drain.

The fourth “p” is the personalization you get with the many robot concepts presented in the exhibition. Such robots also help operators with a shortage of manpower, allowing them to better focus on lunch.

Self-service menu boards and sophisticated additions put the consumer in the kitchen. Such individual dishes allow visitors to order something to their liking.

Technomic’s fifth “p” was his predictions for the future. Technomic predicts that the main ingredient – salt – will be the center of innovation in the menu. This will go beyond the basic taste to take center stage in cocktails and products.

Ms. Fraer said 27% of consumers are eating more unique types of global foods and beverages now than before the pandemic. She referred to the fact that global flavors now come from Mesoamerica, West Africa and West Asia, and new peppers add spiciness and shades to dishes.

NRA 2022 – Trends contributing to the recovery of the restaurant industry

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