The New Year is not far away, and with it will come a host of changes. The full-service restaurant industry sees new food trends, industry trends, and big changes every year. FSR takes a deep dive into we can expect for 2018.
These two tree fruits are going to replace pumpkin as the fall produce of choice, says Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides, Portland, Ore. The interest will lie in heirloom or hybrid varietals and they’ll be put in everything from snacks to beverages, she says. “Think varietal hard ciders. These fruits are way more adaptable than pumpkin could ever be. Pumpkin is now having to form alliances—with ginger, or citrus for example—to keep its head above water.”
The new year’s ice will be infused, branded—with a bar’s initials, for example—and smoked. Even Starbucks, says Badaracco, is testing frozen coffee as ice cubes.
Plant waters will become the rock stars of the beverage world in 2018, forecasts Badaracco. These include waters made from aloe, cactus, coconut, and maple. They can be drunk alone or in cocktails, she says. “They can act as the leading lady or the best friend in 2018. “Once they’ve become known for drinks, she expects to see these being added to baked goods and used with meats—as marinades, sauces, brines.
The hot desserts next year will be comfort desserts from abroad, Badaracco believes. These will include dishes like halo-halo, a shaved ice dish from the Philippines; mochi from Japan (a rice cake); and tarts—France’s version of the American pie. For American desserts, they have to be regional, she says, such as key lime pie or chess pie from the south
We’ll see more drive-through, curbside pickup, delivery and catering from full-service restaurants as we move into 2018, says Boutarel. “Plus, we’ll see more units being production focused rather than sit-down—or they’ll have very limited seating.” IHOP and Applebee’s have both announced many restaurant closures this year in order to focus more on off-premise “and we’ll also see retrofitting to offer this,” says Boutarel. “A lot of concepts need to think about this if less than 50 percent of their business is dine in. And this is happening at all levels of restaurants, except maybe fine dining.” This is all based on convenience, Boutarel adds, and he expects to see fewer outlets from chains, so they can focus more on convenience.
We’ll see many store closures within the casual dining segment in 2018, forecasts Carla Norfleet Taylor, senior director with Fitch Ratings, a credit rating agency in New York City. Casual dining has been losing market share for about a decade and its sales are flat, whereas the overall restaurant industry has been growing at a rate of about 5 percent CAGR, Norfleet says. “So we’re thinking those share losses are going to continue.”
Casual dining will need to get into more off-premise food, of which Olive Garden is a great example, “since it’s won share in a declining category,” Norfleet says. “That brand has been generating positive same-store sales for the past two years now and is attributing that to the to-go options.”