5 Food Trends to Watch for in 2012

December 14, 2011: 5 Food Trends to Watch for in 2012

All year long TrendCast has been bringing you hot business trends. But if you haven’t checked out our website SmallBizTrendCast, which spotlights food, restaurant and beverage trends, I thought I’d highlight some of the top trends we’ve featured there in the past year. Here are 5 food trends we think have staying power for 2012:

Fresh: Americans are crazy for fresh ingredients, from produce to artisanal breads. Now the trend is spilling over from upscale restaurants featuring locally sourced foods to the casual dining and even quick-service arenas.

Breakfast Served Anytime: Consumers expect customization these days, which means they want what they want when they want it. And for many people, what they want is breakfast foods, whether it’s 7 a.m., 7 p.m. or the middle of the night.

Small Plates: The small plate trend started with Spanish tapas, but has expanded to encompass all cuisines. Small plates make sense for cost-cutting consumers, allow chefs to experiment with interesting ingredients for less, and are a natural for happy hours.

Flex-Casual: This hybrid of fast-food and casual dining helps locations attract a wider range of customers in a tough economy. Some flex-casual concepts offer fast-food type service during the day, then switch to table service at dinnertime. Others combine elements of both all day long (having customers order at a counter but servers deliver food to the tables).

Odds and Ends: Chefs are going back to basics by focusing on unusual parts of the animal. And customers craving comfort food (read: rich, fatty treats) are chowing down on everything from chicken skin to foie gras, bone marrow and, of course, all parts of the pig.