Technomic Highlights Unusual Sources for 2013 Menu Inspiration

CHICAGO -- Vegetables taking center stage, posh chicken dishes and an increase in South America-inspired dishes are among the things consumers may see in the restaurant industry come 2013, research firm Technomic Inc. predicted.

The Chicago-based consultancy recently released its top 10 predictions for next year based upon site visits, interviews, surveys and quantitative data culled from its Digital Resource Library and MenuMonitor database.

The firm's first prediction is that creative presentations of roasted and steamed veggies, such as carrots, kale and Brussels sprouts, will be welcomed by diners as center-of-the-plate fare, as opposed to a side dish. Technomic also believes that grains will play a large role on trendy menus next year. Polenta, couscous and bulgur are expected to make appearances on plenty of restaurant menus.

In addition, although chicken is a staple at most restaurants, Technomic believes it will become trendy as well. "New quick-service and fast-casual fried chicken concepts are popping up, offering Southern or spicy takes on a classic," the company stated in a news release. "And now that Latin-accented marinated chicken has established a niche, African peri-peri chicken may be next."

Speaking of Latin dishes, Technomic forecasts that consumers seeking Mexican food will search way beyond its borders. The researcher dubbed South America "the next frontier," with restaurant food inspirations coming from Brazil, Argentina and Peru. On a related note, Technomic also predicts that fast-casual restaurants will seek more ethnic foods and flavors, from Southeast Asian soups and sandwiches to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare.

Diner and deli fare will provide additional menu inspiration for all restaurants, according to Technomic. "Concepts of many types are looking to the menus of traditional and contemporary diners and delis for inspiration," the research group stated in its news release. "We'll see a proliferation of premium diner- and deli-inspired meaty sandwiches, full-flavored soups [and] even pickles."

As for beverages, there should be several new trends in 2013 as Technomic expects restaurants to offer more fresh-fruit beverages, natural energy drinks, homemade sodas, cocktails made with candy-like flavored vodkas, and more.


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