With all of the day-to-day chores and responsibilities that are required to run a bakery, it can be difficult to carve out time to monitor and keep up with foodservice industry trends. However, as much as clean dishes and covered shifts are important to your bakery, serving the foods that customers demand is, too.
This guide is meant to serve as an at-a-glance overview of foodservice industry trends for now and the near future and is largely inspired by ideas from well-known menu analyst Nancy Kruse.
Food Trends for Now
The current trends in the foodservice industry are all about getting the most bang for the buck. Consumers are demanding that the foods they eat give them some type of added bonus. From superfoods, to proteins, to “skinny” stuff, to power foods, and fancy vegetables, grabbing onto these trends can help give your bakery an instant spike in sales and popularity.
By definition, superfoods are calorie sparse and nutrient dense. In other words, there is more to them than meets the eye when it comes to benefits compared to size and weight. Superfoods are also packed with antioxidants that our bodies need but cannot produce themselves.
According to WebMD, “Superfoods can help ward off heart disease, cancer, cholesterol, and more.” And they achieve all of that without causing any side effects.
There are several categories of superfoods, and all of them have at least some elements that can be incorporated into your bakery’s menu.
Green Superfoods have a high concentration of fat-burning compounds, easily digestible nutrients, and vitamins and minerals that can help heal the body, build cleaner muscles and tissues, and aid your digestive system function. Examples include:
Wild blue-green algae
Fruit and Nut Superfoods are rich in antioxidants that help build up the immune system and fight free radicals in the body. Examples include:
Seaweed Superfoods transfer the benefits of all of the nutrients in the ocean to whoever consumes them. Seaweeds can help purify and detoxify blood plasma, boost weight loss, deliver calcium, and more. Examples include:
Bee Superfoods contain an abundance of nutrients that can help promote healthy skin and hair, fight allergies, increase physical and mental capabilities, counteract signs of aging, decrease inflammation, combat stress, fatigue, and insomnia, and more. Examples include:
Herb Superfoods can not only provide the body with nutrients, but they can also be used as medicine to cure a variety of ailments, including constipation, eczema, the flu, and more. Examples include:
Other superfoods include beans, oats, pumpkin, salmon, soy, tea, tomatoes, turkey, and yogurt. A great example of superfood application in a bakery is Panera Bread’s Fat-Free Superfruit Power Smoothie, which includes superfruit puree, organic Greek nonfat yogurt, and ginseng.
The United States is the largest market for high-protein food products. If that doesn’t convince of the demand for protein in this country, maybe this will: 20 percent of recent product introductions at supermarkets have contained proteins, and according to Technomic, protein menu mentions have risen by approximately 67 percent during the past five years.
One reason for the increasing interest in protein is the energy boost this food group can provide. Millions of people suffer from an “afternoon crash,” and they are beginning to learn that this post-lunch drowsiness can easily be avoided with a protein-packed meal.
According to Business Insider, “Americans’ standards for dining have risen. People want options that are fast, fresh, and friendly to all kinds of diets, from vegan to gluten-free. And they don’t want to break the bank.” In short, they no longer want to hide behind the excuse that they can’t eat healthy because it is neither convenient nor affordable.
While “skinny” menu items can certainly include soups, salads, and wraps, they do not have to be limited to those categories. Kruse points out that the skinny phenomenon—bonus if you actually leave “skinny” in the name—easily crosses product categories, as exemplified by the following options currently on menus across the country:
Baja Fresh’s Skinny Wahoo Bowl
Benihana’s Skinny Dining Promotion
Kona Grill’s Skinny Sashimi and Skinny Ceviche
Ledo Pizza’s Skinny Avocado Tuna Salad
Melting Pot’s Skinny Dipping Fondue Menu
Pie Five Pizza’s Skinny Pie
Ruby Tuesday’s Skinny Lavender Lemon Drop Cocktail
Taco Bueno’s Chicken Skinny Bowl
Wing Zone’s Skinny Dippers
Sbarro’s Skinny Slide
Chili’s Skinny Margarita
Cheesecake Factory’s SkinnLicious Soft Chicken Tacos
Power foods are those that support alertness, energy, and calmness. The following is a sampling of power food options, organized by benefit:
Boost alertness with foods like omega-3-rich fish, fortified breakfast cereals, liver, yogurt, cheese, eggs, and ham.
Increase energy with foods like red meats, fish, poultry, soybeans, lentils, spinach, and oranges.
Calm down with foods like brown rice, whole-grain breads and pastas, whole oats, fruits, veggies, and legumes.
Other power foods exist too, and many foodservice operations have found ways to incorporate them into their menus. Like skinny items, it is a bonus if you leave the word “power” in the product name. Here are few examples:
Panera Bread’s entire Power Menu
Uno Pizzeria & Grill’s Chopped Power Salad
Taco Bell’s Power Protein Menu
Fancy vegetables—including avocados, cruciferous, and root veggies—are soaring in popularity, largely due to their versatility and increasing availability.
Avocados have a seemingly infinite number of applications. These foodservice operations are both maximizing creativity and capitalizing on this trend:
Burger King’s Avocado Swiss Whopper
Whataburger’s Avocado Bacon Burger
Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap with Avocado-Lime Dressing
California Pizza Kitchen’s Avocado Club Egg Rolls
Cheesecake Factory’s Portabella Mushroom, Avocado, and Zucchini Fries
Crop Bistro and Bar’s Avocado Deviled Eggs
Cruciferous Vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy. They are all packed with healthy phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and it’s recommended that people consume several servings of them each week. Some real, current cruciferous vegetable applications include:
California Pizza Kitchen’s Brussels + Bacon Pizza
Mellow Mushroom’s Sriracha Broccoli Slaw
Brennan’s of Houston’s Chicken-Friend Cauliflower Steak
Root Vegetables include vegetables like beets, turnips, and yams. Carrots are also root vegetables, and they are popping up everywhere:
American Cut’s Carrot-Glazed Carrots
Au Bon Pain’s Carrot Ginger Soup
Crossroads’ Spicy Moroccan Carrots
Deep Wood Restaurant’s Carrot Risotto
Domenica’s Roasted Carrot Pizza with Goat Cheese
Peet’s Coffee & Tea’s Hummus and Carrot Chips
Willi’s Wine Bar’s Tunisian Roasted Carrots with Pine Nuts
Doughnut Plant’s Carrot Cake Doughnut
Smoothie King’s Berry Carrot Dream
If your bakery isn’t open for lunch service, don’t be afraid to use these fancy vegetables in your breakfast offerings. For example, Au Bon Pain offers a Hummus Breakfast Sandwich with Fresh Spinach, and Corner Bakery offers an Avocado and Spinach Power Panini Thin.