Restaurant group reveals ‘What’s Hot’ in 2013

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — Locally sourced foods and children’s nutrition are the leading trends in 2013, according to the National Restaurant Association’s (N.R.A.) annual “What’s hot 2013 chef survey,” a survey of 1,800 chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation. The ranking’s top two slots focus on locally sourced meats and seafood (No. 1), and locally grown produce (No. 2). Within the top 10, healthful children’s meals, children’s nutrition, and whole grain items in children’s meals occupy the No. 3, No. 5 and No. 10 positions, respectively.

The 2013 survey highlights the slow pace of change in the food category, because the 2013 survey is similar to the association’s 2012 effort. The top three trends of locally sourced meat, locally grown produce, and healthful children’s meals did not change.

Within the top 20 trends, the most dramatic change between 2012 and 2013 was the rise of “new cuts of meat,” which moved from the No. 11 position up to the No. 6 position. New trends to the 2013 top 20 include “non-wheat noodles/pasta” (No. 12), “ethnic-inspired breakfast items” (No. 14), and “black/forbidden rice” (No. 19).

Trends that saw their stature decline between 2012 and 2013 include “food trucks,” which fell from the No. 13 position in 2012 to the No. 20 position in 2013; “hyper-local sourcing,” which fell from No. 4 to No. 7; and “house-made/artisan ice cream,” which fell from No. 15 to No. 18.

When asked how to best handle the increasing cost of ingredients, 32% of the chefs surveyed said changing menus, 25% said adjusting plate composition, and 24% said exploring new sourcing options.

Only 4% said raising menu prices is the best strategy.

Top 20 trends for 2013

1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Healthful children’s meals
4. Environmental sustainability
5. Children’s nutrition
6. New cuts of meat
7. Hyper-local sourcing
8. Gluten-free cuisine
9. Sustainable seafood
10. Whole grain items in children’s meals
11. Farm/estate branded items
12. Non-wheat noodles
13. Non-traditional fish
14. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
15. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items
16. Health/nutrition
17. Half-portion/smaller portions for a smaller price
18. House-made artisan ice cream
19. Black/forbidden rice
20. Food trucks

Source: What’s hot 2013 chef survey
National Restaurant Association

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