Despite a growing focus on nutrition and healthier restaurant options, the fast food industry is still going strong and it is mainly because of its adaptability and its willingness to listen to its customers’ needs and to make changes accordingly. Today, life is busier than ever and most people because of the sluggish economy are watching every penny so the need for fast food options is still strong.
Here are some consumer trends in fast food:
Bowls full of goodness
More and more fast restaurants are offering more bowl options and not just bowls of salad. They are offering bowls of healthy grains and veggies that a prepared right in front of the customer so they can see the freshness first hand. This is a great healthier options for those customers who want to stay away from the burger and fries.
Unlikely culinary pairings
Creativity is the lifeblood of any business and the fast food industry is no different. While certain foods are the staple of the food industry like burgers, chicken sandwiches, steak sandwiches and fries, there are a lot of ways you can spice things up to keep your customers interested. Add unlikely ingredients to your burger for an extra explosion of taste or if you sell burritos try wrapping up something people wouldn’t expect like sushi in a burrito.
Healthier drink options
There has been a lot of buzz about kombucha, a fermented tea that has a lot of health benefits lately, and you will see more fast food chains offering it on their beverage menu. Because it is low calorie and good for you, your more health-conscious customers will drink it up.
More veggie options
Traditionally fast food chains never really concentrated on serving a variety of vegetable options to their customer. They would offer maybe one or two options, but the concentration would be on protein and carbohydrates. This will be changing in the next few years as more fast food restaurants are giving vegetables a more prominent place on their menus. Veggie lovers will love that they can get healthier food options, but still with fast service and a more economical price.
More robust breakfast options
Most fast food breakfast options focus on quick dishes like a breakfast sandwich, scrambled eggs, pancakes or in a healthier vein oatmeal with yogurt parfait, but many fast food restaurants are now offering more creative robust meals like quiche or French toast as well as adding unexpected ingredients like avocado, sriracha or green chile.
More attention on food sourcing
Because of the increased attention on eating healthier and protecting the environment, the farm to table trend is still going strong and you will see more fast food restaurants making local food sourcing and more organic ingredients a priority in their establishments.
Expect to see more Poké
Poké, a Hawaiian specialty, is a fresh raw seafood that is becoming a popular fish option on the mainland as well. It works great in a wrap or on top of rice. Add it to your rice bowl with other fresh ingredients.
Pizza will always be in style
While it might seem like there is a pizza shop around every corner, it seems like we can never get too much pizza. Pizza chains however are keeping things fresh by offering new toppings and new types of pizza to keep things interesting and to keep up with current food trends.
The spicier the better
Another thing that is not going out of style any time soon is spicy foods. People are eating it up and so you will see more fast food restaurants offering more dishes to tempt the spicy palate.
Chicken preferred over beef
With the continuing increased prices in beef and the attention on the health dangers of too much red meat, more and more fast food chains are increasing their chicken options. The great thing about chicken is that although it is a healthier protein, when you bread and fry it, you can also indulge your craving for a greasy treat with chicken as well.
Cold brew coffee is hot
Cold brew coffee, where coffee grounds are steeped in room temperature or cool water for at least 12 hours, is growing in popularity. People are attracted to its bold flavors and even in colder weather months people are choosing it over the traditional hot cup of coffee.
Kale no longer the “it” vegetable
For a long time, kale has been touted has the healthiest vegetable for you to include in your diet with its long list of health benefits, but its popularity is beginning to wane and you will see different vegetable options taking more center stage like different types of seaweeds, beet greens, chard and turnip greens.
Purple is the color of choice
The color of royalty for centuries, the color purple is also showing up more in people’s plates. From purple cabbage and acai to purple sweet potatoes and purple corn, you will see more purple foods and dishes on the menu even in fast food chains.
Eggs are making a comeback
For the longest time, you were warned that too many eggs was bad for your cholesterol and heart health, but recently it is making a comeback as a healthy option for protein so expect to see eggs pop up it more dishes, especially the yolk. More dishes and sandwiches are featuring a runny yolk on top.
Increase in specialty or regional options
Because the fast food industry is so large, it is important to stand out so more and more fast food restaurant operators are looking for a special niche. Do some research on what foods and ingredients are popular in the region you are working in to see if you capitalize on that. Also spend time in the kitchen working on special sauces or dishes that are unique to your restaurant. While there are a lot of burger joints out there, not every burger tastes the same so there is room for you to put your personal stamp on your dishes.