Spring is a time of new beginnings and rebirth - not just in nature, but for businesses as well. Read on to learn about nine food and beverage trends that are hot this spring!1) Mediterranean Food Gets Its Time to Shine - it's long been hypothesized that this region's diet is good for a person's heart, but recently the New England Journal of Medicine released an official stance on this topic in their article entitled "Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet". So now that the green light has been given, restaurants are eager to add Mediterranean offerings to their menus. Foods like tabbouleh, orzo, and hummus will be seen in on-trend seasonal menus this spring.
2) Young Garlic - as reported by nrn.com, "Whether they meant the green shoots that are suitable for stir-frying or the young bulbs that are sweeter and lighter but more aromatic than garlic during the rest of the year, chefs seem particularly excited about this particular spring specialty."
3) Beverage Tastings Are All the Rage - more restaurants and fast-casual chains are offering taster-sized portions of drinks. For example, California Pizza Kitchen has added three wine tasting packages to its menu, consisting of three 3-ounce pours for $12.00. Restaurants can view these beverage tastings as a way to introduce patrons to a variety of drinks, while at the same time boosting sales and allowing customers some semblance of choice.
4) Certification Is Where It's At - savvy consumers want to be reassured that they're making good choices when they dine out, and restaurants of all types are taking notice. A case in point is The Daily Dish restaurant in Maryland. This spring they will serve jumbo lump crabmeat that boasts "True Blue" certification, meaning that it's verified to have come from that state's waters. Another example is McDonald's recent addition to their Fillet-O-Fish sandwich - a seal affixed to the packaging showing that the chain is using certified sustainable Alaskan pollock fish. Try to be as transparent as possible regarding foods that are local, sustainable, organic, GMO-free, etc. Your customers - and likely your profit margins - will thank you for it.
5) Drinks Function As More Than Mere Thirst-Quenchers - beverage makers are combining ingredients to create multi-function, two-for-one drinks to promote things such as brain and bone health, energy, greater hydration through electrolytes, omega-3s in one's daily diet, as well as drinks that simply pair unusual flavor combinations.
6) Keepin' It Real - natural sweeteners are poised to edge out some of the high-fructose corn syrup and refined sugar action.With recent consumer trends toward decreasing sugar consumption, sweeteners like agave, honey, sucanat, and date sugar will be used with even greater frequency in both food and beverages. And if you do make the switch to more natural sweeteners, be sure to tout it! (See point 4, Certification Is Where It's At)
7) Alcohol-Based Beverages That Are Good for You - the organizers of the Healthy Beverage Expo in Las Vegas, NV provide this forecast: there will soon be an addition of vitamins and other all-natural ingredients to wine and cocktails. Look for options that also include fewer calories, organic ingredients, and non-GMO certification.
8) Culinary Seasonings Pair Up With Beverages - ingredients like sea salt, turmeric, ginger, and pine are going to be paired more frequently with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Seasonings will play an integral part in the creation of drinks with bold flavors, which consumers will be seeking out this spring season.
9) When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade - though it's long been a staple on restaurant menus, you will begin to see businesses reminding consumers of the health benefits of lemons - they contain antioxidants, act as a digestive aid, and are rich in dietary fiber. Try sweetening lemonades with a variety of natural sweeteners (see Keepin' It Real, above) to give customers even more reason to order an old favorite.