As always, this year’s National Restaurant Association Show proved to be an innovative event, filled with seemingly limitless opportunities to share industry insights and catch up on the latest foodservice trends. In case you missed the event — or even if you didn’t — here’s a summary of the most buzzworthy trends discussed (plus a few ways you can use equipment to address them)!
With food waste at astounding levels — roughly $1 trillion of food is wasted every year — it’s no surprise that minimizing it was a major topic of discussion. And food isn’t the only thing going to waste. Eighty percent of the $10 billion spent annually on energy in the foodservice sector is due to inefficient cooking, holding and storage equipment.
To reduce this waste, and save on costs, industry pros are stepping up sustainability initiatives. By using the right equipment, they can minimize energy and food waste. For example, kitchen staff are turning to energy-efficient holding equipment, such as drawer warmers and merchandisers, to keep food fresh for longer (so it doesn’t have to be thrown away).
2) Plant-based proteins
There’s no question that plant-based proteins are one of the top trends on everyone’s radar. From veggie burgers to plant-based breakfasts, industry experts are finding inventive ways to work plant-based proteins onto their menus.
As the plant-based protein trend continues to gain traction, it’s also clear that foodservice operators will need to prioritize veggie-friendly cooking equipment. Expect to see more and more foodservice providers bringing on versatile equipment, such as multi contact grills, which are built to cook an array of proteins (even plant-based options) with precision.
3) Labor reduction
As with most industries, streamlining operations is the name of the game. Since foodservice labor is one of the most significant operating expenses for restaurants, figuring out how to reduce labor costs is an ongoing topic of discussion. And thanks to automated features and programming controls of modern equipment, such as induction ranges and food finishers, foodservice operators can do more with less. While this may mean they need to invest in new equipment, if they spend more, they can save more in the long run by reducing labor costs.
4) Equipment aesthetics
With the rise in open concept commercial kitchens, foodservice operators are more focused on aesthetically-pleasing equipment. To keep up with the demand, manufacturers are offering more customizable options, such as custom-built heat lamps, so restaurants can match their equipment with their overall design aesthetic. As this trend rises in popularity, customers are not only looking for function — they’re looking for fashion, but at a budget-friendly price.
5) Buyer education
Last but not least, NRA-goers focused on the importance of making educated buying decisions. Buyers’ standards are at an all-time high, and they expect their partners to rise to the occasion and be a go-to resource they can trust. To deliver on those expectations, it’s critical to understand the ins and outs of their business, so you can bring solutions to the table. By spending time to gain an understanding of their needs, you can make useful equipment recommendations and in turn, empower them to make smart purchasing decisions.
Stay on top of the latest.
As you forge ahead, keep these industry trends top-of-mind so you can be the ultimate resource for customers when it comes to relevant and timely foodservice considerations. And to make sure you stay up-to-date on the latest, and don’t miss out on additional insights, sign up for our newsletter today!
If you weren’t able to attend the NRA, we hope to see you at another one of the upcoming industry trade shows. Check out our lineup here to see where we’re exhibiting next!