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Market research firm Technomic has released its five trend predictions for 2013 for the Canadian restaurant industry. They include:
1. Snacking. Changing dining habits are impacting traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner dayparts. Consumers want their meals and snacks when and where it's convenient. They want options that meet their dining and social needs as well, such as late-night options and choices for sharing among friends. Restaurants are adapting by adding small bites, snacks, tapas and sharing plates. Expect traditional entrees to be shifted into creative small plates, street trucks as snacking inspiration and more ethnic flavors and ingredients.
2. Chicken. Building off the growing better-burger trend, chefs will turn to chicken as the next food primed for a gourmet update. Look for increasing use of chicken raised locally, naturally and humanely. Expect restaurants to identify their poultry supplier on menus as well. Other factors that will play into the "better chicken" trend are ethnic influences such as peri peri, Peruvian and Mexican. Also look for artisan-minded approaches to cooking methods including rotisserie, frying and roasting.
3. Vegetables. Expect more locally sourced, in-season fresh veggies as side dishes, and also more vegetarian entrees. Consumers are taking a newfound flexitarian approach to dining—enjoying meat on some occasions, avoiding it on others. Veggies ready for the spotlight include kale, Brussels sprouts, carrots and cauliflower.
4. Asian cuisine. From the growing ramen trend in Toronto to Japanese tapas restaurants in Vancouver, diners are increasingly seeking out Asian fare beyond the traditional. Whether it's banh mi served streetside from a mobile eatery, or an upscale sit-down eatery focused on authentic Thai food, expect to see interest in the multitude of food cultures that Asia has to offer. This includes Southeast Asian dishes from Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia, as well as regional Chinese and Japanese fusion.
5. Specialty beverages. Artisan preparation and ethnic flavor trends are making their way into beverage innovation as well. Restaurants are crafting everything from small-batch sodas, such as housemade root beer and fountain drinks, to exotic refreshers like South American aguas frescas. Technomic predicts more food-and-beverage pairings that complete an ethnic dining experience; think street burritos paired with Mexican horchata, a plate of chicken tikka served with a mango lassi, or a Thai dish complemented by tea flavored with orange blossom and chilled coconut milk.
Read more about food trends.