Staying competitive in the restaurant industry can be hard. It’s not enough to just to have good food, or even differentiate by offering unrivaled pricing, a variety of menu options, or added convenience, modern diners expect something different –– a memorable customer experience.The food and beverage industry is expected to grow to a worth of $200 billion by 2019, according to MarketLine research, and so gourmet is one of the highlights of the upcoming MAPIC trade show in Italy.
So what are the trends happening in this space? We’ve seen a surge in inventive craft cocktails, new ways to “gourmet-ify” classic food, and fine-dining food trucks.
Craft Cocktail Craze
Craft cocktail bars have been early adopters of food and beverage trends since their rise to popularity in the 1800s. As well as interesting glasses or alternative colours, some of these bars are stocking their shelves with “edible fragrance” from companies like Alice and the Magician. A major factor in the experience of consuming a cocktail comes from its aroma rather than its taste. By adding a mist of a complementary fragrance to a classic cocktail, bars are offering unique multi sensorial experiences that would difficult to replicate or stock with regular ingredients.
A Food Makeover
Gourmet isn’t just about rare ingredients and white tablecloths: plenty of food connoisseurs are creating exquisite menu items and retail offerings out of standard favorites.
Restaurants are re-appropriating maple syrup into cocktails, incorporating unusual flavors like chili lime and salsa into standard yogurt, and converting hummus into a sweet treat with infusions of chocolate or Snickerdoodle. No classic item is off limits –– even plain water is transforming into a tea-infused health product, or sparkling bitters. It’s about juxtaposing different flavours and senses to challenge expectations and being creative with combinations to change something ordinary to something extraordinary.
Gourmet Hits the Road
According to an article on CNBC, food trucks are currently estimated to be a $2.7 billion business seen across the world. Traditional fine-dining customers expect superior and creative food, outstanding customer service, and a unique and memorable atmosphere. This isn’t just about cheap and cheerful fast food. Instead we’re seeing a premiumisation, as, “fine” food trucks have started putting creative twists on menu items as well as capitalizing on the demand of locally sourced food and drink. A food truck in Austin, Texas called Blenders and Bowls specializes in organic acai smoothies and fruit bowls and serves them with high-quality dishes and glassware to match the unique ingredient, and even at music festivals Michelin star chefs are serving their wares.
With modern customers expecting fantastic experiences in other areas, leading to retailtainment, pop ups, and new travel experiences, dining and gourmet will likely become even more creative over time. If retailers, real estate investors, and builders can take advantage of this evolution, there’s room to thrive in an expanding and innovative market.
Top photo: © Getty Images / Jacques Palut