Early this month the National Restaurant Association released its “What’s Hot in 2015” forecast which includes the chef-predicted top culinary trends for the year. Nearly 1,300 chefs were surveyed and asked to prioritize and categorize a list of 231 items. The top four items for 2015 were consistent with those ranked in 2014 at the top of the list: locally sourced meats and protein, locally grown produce, environmental sustainability, and healthful kid menus.
While environmental sustainability usually encompasses waste management, the more specific topic of “food waste reduction/management” also made the top 10 list, coming in at number nine. Food waste minimization is getting increased focus across restaurants and foodservice operations since it aligns with social responsibility goals, helps reduce costs, and draws in more environmentally-minded customers.
At the same time, managing food costs is increasingly tough—34% of respondents noted rising food costs as a top concern, up from 18% last year. The NRA reports that wholesale food costs have risen 5.3% year-over-year—the biggest increase in three years—so that concern is fully justified. For operators focused on controlling food costs and offsetting this increase, attention to food waste prevention is not just a trend, it’s a must. Food waste management, while it may surprise some, IS the path to managing food costs.
Click here for the full top 10 list and a link to the NRA report.