Loco for Local

Date posted: January 11, 2013

By Rieva Lesonsky

Last month the National Restaurant Association (the other NRA) released its annual lists of “What’s Hot” in food and beverage trends. The 2013 list covers menu trends for food, beverages and alcohol in particular. One common theme cited on all lists was “local sourcing” of food.

In fact, locally sourced meats and seafood took the number-one spot on the menu trends list, followed by locally grown produce in second place and hyper-local sourcing (food from a restaurant’s own garden) in seventh.

None of that is very surprising since local sourcing of food has been a developing trend for a few years now. But what’s interesting is that the top trend on the beverage list (non-alcoholic drinks) is “house-made soft drinks/soda/pop,” which is essentially another way to say hyper-local sourced soda. I know it’s fairly easy to create your own soda (you can even do it at home), but this seems to be a non-alcoholic answer to craft beer.

Speaking of which, the real surprise for me was on the alcohol trends list, where half of the top 10 trends involved brewing beer or aging spirits on site, locally sourced alcohol or mix-ins (fruits, berries and other “savory, fresh” ingredients). When you specifically look at the beer market, locally produced beer tops the top 5 trends list, followed by cask-brewed beer and ale (which is generally made locally), craft beer and house-brewed beer. In essence, 80 percent of the beer trends involved local or brewed-on-the-premises beverages.

This is vital news for restaurant and bar owners. Whether consumers think eating and drinking locally sourced products is healthier, or consider it a sign of community spirit, the trendlines are clear. If you own a restaurant or bar, or want to start one this year, you’d be smart to have a good selection of local foods and beverages on your menus. And since this trend is predicted to be even more popular in 2013, make sure you promote your locally sourced menu items in your marketing.

You can download the food and alcohol forecasts from the NRA website.

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