Will the menu trends of 2017 turn to the dark side?

| by S.A. Whitehead
Will the menu trends of 2017 turn to the dark side?

Charcoal, heavy fats and lots of bubbles may not sound like they belong on 2017's list of menu trends, but the Canadian food-centric marketing consultancy, THP, said its research shows otherwise. 

"Our customers look to us to develop recipes inspired by current and forward-looking ingredient trends," THP CEO Amanda Riva, said in a news release  "Doing this helps ensure that the content we're developing resonates with a brand's core consumer, as well as the consumer group it's looking to grow."

The Toronto-based company's team of food experts said more than 2,500 recipes are created each year hoping to be top sellers in North America and the U.K. Below is their list of 2017's hottest food trends:

Food's darker side: Activated charcoal and squid ink

A substance often used to counteract poisoning — known as activated charcoal — is now becoming a hot new ingredient "that's popping up everywhere, from your morning juice routine to your burger bun, and even in your pizza crust," THP Culinary Innovation Director Sabrina Falone, said in a company press release.

Activated charcoal is, as you might have guessed, very dark and ashy, and apparently that's part of its foodie appeal.

"Don't shy away from dark-hued foods next year, lending well to familiar classics like squid ink pasta or risotto, which have not gone out of style," Falone said.

Fat's where it's at

Maybe it's the knee-jerk reaction to the pervasive push across food service toward more healthful offerings, but whatever the cause, fat is back, Baby, and not just any old fat. THP shows the fattier the fat, the better.

"There's a shift back to fuller, richer foods — think full-fat dairy, butter and ghee — influenced by a more conscious consumer who is looking to include less processed and more clean, natural ingredients into their diet," Falone said.

Gettin' fizzy with it:

We do love our bubbles here in the Western World, and that feature is bubbling to the top of the trends list with datat showing that 56 percent of consumer worldwide want more craft-style drinks to mix with that ever-expanding list of booze options. THP found that sodas with more natural ingredients, like lavender and all varieties of fruit, are particularly popular are sodas  This trend is evident in most grocery aisles with their ever-expanding offerings of soda, as well as restaurants' increasing numbers of options for spiking your drink, with or without alcohol.

Oh vey the new way 

Old Jewish culinary staples, such as matzo and various kosher-prepared offerings, are enjoying innovative spins. The matzo ball ramen, for example, which blends the Japanese soup noodle concept with the best of Jewish cuisine, is gaining round.  It's like a little U.N. in a bowl. 

Jerky reinterpreted

Gone are the days when jerky was something you plunked down a few quarters for at the gas station. Today's jerky — driven by what THP said is an 18 percent increase in consumption — is pretty high-end stuff. That's why the flavors and ingredient qualities for these dried slabs of meat are going very "Park Avenue" on us in today's menus. The more upscale and quirky your jerky, the more you stand to gain in customer buy-in.

THP's also predicted that sumac, insect protein sources and wine in a can  will certainly prompt some unexpected choices on restaurant menus in the coming year. But in a food service world that dictates staying ahead of the culinary curve, most restaurateurs are well aware that it pays to at least pay attention to the changing tides of worldwide tastes,


Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Food & Beverage, Trends / Statistics

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of Pizzamarketplace.com and QSRweb.com after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

Sponsored Links:

Related Content

Latest Content

Subscribe for QSR trends & news

QSR Industry News


Quick Service Restaurant Trends


QSR payment options: Yes, customers really DO care ... a lot