U.S. survey identifies kids’ nutrition and local sourcing as top menu trends for 2012

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th December 2011

The U.S. National Restaurant Association (NRA)’s “What’s Hot in 2012” survey of nearly 1,800 professional chefs has predicted that children’s nutrition and local sourcing will be the biggest trends on restaurant menus in 2012.

The chefs also identified smartphone apps and tablet computers as the top technology trends. In addition, 6 out of 10 chefs said they would consider a food truck as an entrepreneurial business venture.

According to the NRA’s survey, the top 20 menu trends for next year will be:

  1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  2. Locally grown produce
  3. Healthful kids’ meals
  4. Hyper-local items
  5. Sustainability as a culinary theme
  6. Children’s nutrition as a culinary theme
  7. Gluten-free/food allergy-conscious items
  8. Locally produced wine and beer
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. Whole grain items in kids’ meals
  11. Newly fabricated cuts of meat
  12. Farm/estate-branded items
  13. Food trucks/street food
  14. Artisan spirits
  15. House-made/artisan ice cream
  16. Health/nutrition as a culinary theme
  17. Non-traditional fish
  18. Fruit/vegetable kids’ side items
  19. Children’s mini-meals (i.e. smaller versions of adult menu items)
  20. Culinary cocktails

The NRA’s Nutrition & Healthy Living director, Joy Dubost said, “Local sourcing of everything – from meat and fish, to produce, to alcoholic beverages – is a big trend for 2012. Local farms and food producers have become an important source of ingredients for chefs and restaurateurs wishing to support the members of their business community and highlight seasonal ingredients on menus.”