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In the competitive world of the foodservice industry, where consumers are always looking for new ways to be impressed and their tastes are ever-evolving, keeping one step ahead of the latest foodservice trends is not just important but absolutely crucial for your business to thrive.

Sadly there’s no crystal ball for us to gaze into in order to discover what will be capturing the attention of restaurant and bar customers in 2016, but luckily for us we have something even better: insights on the emerging 2016 foodservice trends from M&C Allegra Foodservice, the leading providers of intelligence for the UK eating and drinking out market, which at the end of Q2 this year was valued at £85.4bn for 2015.

Loclhart foodservice trends 2016

At the Lockhart Catering Equipment Expo in September 2015, Executive Director Simon Stenning gave a captivating presentation on the key themes and trends that will be dominating the foodservice market in 2016, supported by extremely in-depth industry and market research (up to Q2 2015) and driven by the trends of years gone by. We’re pleased to bring you a forecast of the food and drinks trends that you should consider incorporating into your business in 2016, in order to capture the attention of your customers and maximise your business potential.

  • Breakfast really will be your most important meal of the day

No longer satisfied with a measly bowl of cornflakes or unsatisfying slices of toast, consumers are now thinking outside the (cereal) box at breakfast time and increasingly visiting eateries to kick-start their day. 50% of adults now eat out for breakfast on a regular basis - a 5% increase from 2014 - and breakfast is in fact closing in on dinner as the most popular mealtime for eating out, with adults eating out at breakfast time an average of 2.3 times every month, compared to an average of 2.4 dinners out. So if you’ve been thinking about trialling a breakfast or brunch menu at your establishment, now’s the time, as a nation of hungry consumers are waiting to feed their hangovers, enjoy an early morning business meeting, or simply get their day off to a more satisfying and adventurous start.

Lockhart 2016 Foodservice Trends 1

However, the very nature of breakfast means that the average spend per head per visit is a little on the modest side: just £4.52, which is around a third of the current average spend on dinner (£16.42), and means that your breakfast menu will need to consider up-selling opportunities in order to make the first meal of the day satisfying for your business too. Quality speciality coffees, fresh fruit juices and smoothies, and light but delicious breakfast side dishes like artisan breads, exotic fruits and luxury yogurts are all ways to inch up the average breakfast spend in your restaurant, and make breakfast interesting and appealing enough to lure customers out of their pyjamas and into your eatery. For more inspiring ideas on how to make breakfast a success for you, take a look at our article and survey on breakfasts here.

  • Real value for money counts, not just discounts and deals

If you’re still relying on discount vouchers and BOGOF deals to lure in customers, you’re sadly falling behind with the times and current foodservice trends. Now more than ever, customers are consistently looking for real value for money from their dining choices - not just one-time-only promotions that will bring them through your doors once, but probably won’t see them coming back for more. M&C Allegra’s research showed that a promotion, voucher, or meal deal was used for only 13% of meals eaten out in 2015, compared to 19.5% last year, which is a considerable decrease when you consider that voucher code websites and social promotions are only ever-growing.

Lockhart 2016 Foodservice Trends 2

Combined with the fact that the average spend per head per meal has fallen across the board (yet total spend has rose 3%), there’s strong evidence that in 2016 customers will keep searching for dining options that offer real value for money, not just ‘cheapness’ or a money-off promotion that won’t build lasting brand loyalty. Case in point: Pizza Express, who have noticeably reined in their aggressive discounting, no doubt after realising that few customers were arriving without a voucher in their grasp.

  • ‘Premiumised’ casual dining and fast food will reign supreme

‘Premiumised informality, driven by food pleasure seekers’ is a crucial trend to watch for 2016, as casual dining chains continue to re-invent themselves to keep up with the more innovative independents that are encroaching on their market share. Unfortunately for the independents, the brands are still winning – at least for now. That’s because food is ‘the new rock and roll’ according to M&C Allegra, as people take a more keen interest in food and seek out more unique and better quality food experiences from even their fast food dining. Burger chains such as Five Guys and other ‘new fast food’ brands that provide an exciting alternative to the big-names, and meet their needs for value and convenience, have contributed to a 10% increased average spend per head on fast food in 2015 (£9.40 compared to £8.35 in 2014), but perceived ‘premiumisation’ doesn’t come from increasing prices as we’ve already seen that the average spend on eating out has dropped overall.

Lockhart 2016 Foodservice Trends 3

Instead, it comes from offering an alternative experience and something genuinely new in the casual dining world, dominated by pizzas and burgers. The emergence of casual dining chains with more exotic world cuisines, such as the Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana and the Thai eatery Giggling Squid, are going up against the more established chains and forcing them to up their game. As M&C Allegra have put it, ‘there can be no casual approach to casual dining’.

  • Pubs fighting back to reclaim their ‘third space’ in the hearts of customers

In our recent blog post about the rise of the café-pub and lounge in the UK, we discussed M&C Allegra’s findings that after years of losing out to coffee shops and cafés as the ‘third space’ for UK drinkers, pubs are finding new ways to get back on top. The way that they’re doing this is by looking beyond the bar taps and hybridising into ‘café-pubs’ or ‘lounges’, that offer much more than just alcohol to their customers. From genuinely appetising, yet value-for-money food menus to free Wi-Fi, quality coffee and even printing facilities, these new café pubs and lounges are giving people reasons to head to ‘the boozer’ even when booze is the last thing on their minds. The former Scream pubs, which were firm favourites with students on their cheap nights but failed to pull in the crowds at full-price, have been successfully transformed into a new ‘Common Room’ concept by Stonegate Pubs which has something to offer a broad range of customers and so is drawing people in all day long.

Lockhart 2016 Foodservice Trends 4

Speaking of coffee, that’s a key factor for pubs that want to enjoy the taste of success again. Coffee shops are currently leading the foodservice market with a growth of 6% between 2011 to the end of 2014, and so many pubs are riding on their caffeinated coattails by developing their own signature coffee brands and offering a more varied, and better quality, coffee selection. As M&C Allegra found that even 24% of operators and suppliers in the foodservice industry agree that coffee will be one of the fastest growing sectors in the next 3-5 years, in 2016 we expect to see more pubs putting thought into their non-alcoholic drinks and offering more hot and frothy choices along their cold and foamy selections.

  • Street food will continue to steam ahead of the market

A few years ago, ‘street food’ conjured up images to most people of greasy kebab vans in the early hours of the morning, or hot dogs eaten hastily outside a football ground. But now, street food is accurately known for being an exciting new way of eating and enjoying various types of cuisine from across the globe that has taken the UK by storm, and in 2016, its success is only set to continue.

Lockhart 2016 Foodservice Trends 5

M&C Allegra’s survey of foodservice operators and suppliers confirms this, as almost half (46%) of those surveyed believed that street food businesses will be the fastest growing area of the industry in the next 3-5 years, posing a real threat to the existing ‘casual dining’ sector. It’s no surprise, as street food ticks off all of the customer requirements for a casual dining experience: value, convenience, and an informality with a premium feel.

At Lockhart we’d like to thank M&C Allegra for sharing their insights with us, and we’re looking forward to seeing these foodservice trends emerge. How many of these will you be incorporating into your foodservice business, or which other 2016 food and drinks trends do you predict that we’ll see? Leave us a comment with your thoughts below.


Lockhart Catering on 22 December 2015 10:45 AM

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