Heading into 2016, what’s on the horizon for the Canadian foodservice industry? Leading food research and consulting firm Technomic sees these buzzworthy food and restaurant trends making a big impact in the coming year:
Trend #1—Oktoberfest all year. Canadian diners are now embracing the food and drink of the Bavarian fall festival year round. There’s mounting consumer interest in comfort-heavy German fare, such as artisanal sausages, beer cheese soups and soft pretzels. This trend is evolving at new brauhaus-inspired restaurant concepts like Ottawa’s Das Lokal Kitchen + Bar, featuring social communal dining and a mix of classic and modern menus that flaunt Bratwurst, housemade mustards, Belgian-style fries, schnitzel, späetzle and Bavarian brews.
Trend #2—New ethnic niches flourish. Ethnic food and drink is trending towards the more adventurous, moving beyond now-familiar street foods to include lesser-known specialties found at the food carts, kiosks, pubs and food halls of far-flung lands. This movement speaks not just to authenticity, but to sincerity of flavour experiences and true culinary heritage. Look for foodie favourites like Chinese rou jia mo, Tijuana danger dogs, Hawaiian poke, Mexican eloté and Hong Kong egg waffles to emerge.
Trend #3—All-in on adult beverage innovation. Smoky and bitter flavours, ultra-sour liqueurs and herb-infused spirits spark creativity behind the bar. Beer cocktails and “winetails” reveal the versatility of beer and wine. And the hard cider trend will spin off in new directions: expect “hard” soft drinks, especially spiked root beers and ginger ales, to capture the spotlight next.
Trend #4—Workforce squeeze. Canada’s restaurant industry has been put on notice, with government regulations poised to shake up operations. The strict moratorium on temporary foreign workers, coupled with newly enacted penalties for employer noncompliance, will have a disproportionate impact on restaurants. So will the rise in minimum wages across six provinces. Even as Canadian operators commit more resources to hiring, training and retention, they will be challenged as the effects of these mandates ripple through the labour market.
Trend #5—The slow-coffee movement. The everyday cup of java is becoming more refined, as forward-thinking cafés are taking coffee to the next level. Cold brews, single-origin coffees, limited bean batches and “pour over” techniques are being heavily promoted to emphasize unique, robust flavours, higher quality, premium components and artisanal preps. As the mainstream coffee consumer’s palate evolves, watch for elevated concept models—such as espresso tasting bars—also to come into vogue.
Click here to download the Canadian 2016 Trends Infographic
These uniquely Canadian trends can be compared to Technomic’s expectations for the U.S. foodservice industry and the U.K. market.