Hospitality

Dude food and freakshakes: The hot and not of 2016 food trends revealed

Dominic Powell /

Foodie fanatics should look forward to the rest of 2016, with research by point-of-sale provider Impos showing the trend towards hand-crafted gourmet treats and sustainable eating is set to continue.

Impos surveyed 400 business owners, workers, and managers in the hospitality sector to uncover what the sector believes will be hot and not for the rest of the year. At the top of the list for food trends is locally sourced produce, which 44% of those surveyed believe is the hottest trend in food in 2016.

Coming in close behind is what the report identifies as “dude food”. Dude food, according to New York Times’ food editor Sam Sifton, is “anything salty, fatty and crisp, with bro-tastic sweetness and wicked heat”.

Of those surveyed, 33% tipped this bro-tastic and crisp trend would continue, meaning diners can expect to continue to see plenty of American-style burgers and BBQ over coming months.

However, an almost equal amount of those surveyed (32%) predicted that vegetarian, vegan and organic food will remain popular among Australian audiences.

Lydia Phipps, restaurant manager at Melbourne vegan and vegetarian restaurant Transformer, told SmartCompany the restaurant is witnessing a real want for locally produced food and drinks.

“We’re finding that more and more people want Australian-made produce,” Phipps says.

“We try to source from small businesses and use local produce where possible, and our beer list is entirely Victorian.”

Phipps says the crowd at Transformer, which opened 18 months ago, ranges from 18-year-olds “trying the latest trends” to an older, regular crowd.

“When we opened, vegetarian and vegan food was already a bit of a boom,” she says.

“We adjust our menu for dietary requirements, but that is a bit of a trend. Everyone has a dietary requirement these days.”

At the bottom of the Impos list, falling into the ‘not hot’ category, are food-specific venues (13%), extreme eating (8%), and nose-to-tail eating (13%).

Food specific venues are those that only serve one type of specialty food, such as bacon or jaffles, while extreme eating covers incredibly healthy or incredibly unhealthy food. Nose-to-tail eating advocates for the entirety of an animal to be devoured, including things like hooves and offal.

Impos’ report also delved into trends in drinks, with 51% of respondents claiming that craft beer and cider would remain hot, but pre-mixed cocktails are on the out. Craft spirits, such as whisky and gin, were also nominated by 31% of business owners, managers and staff.

For those who prefer a non-alcoholic brew, cold-brewed coffee and health conscious juices are theorised to stay hot, at 27% and 31% respectively. Ken Cowan, barista at Padre Coffee in Melbourne’s inner-north, told SmartCompany that cold brew coffee is very popular, but usually only in summer.

“We’ve actually had two people come in and order some today, despite it being 11 degrees, which is unusual” Cowan says.

“Generally during winter no-one orders it, but in summer we can’t make enough of it.”

Cowan, who has worked at Padre since it opened eight years ago, believes that people don’t just want cold brew for relief on a warm day, saying that people are drawn to it because it’s “something different”.

“It’s an alternative brewing method and it’s quite interesting. Unlike making a latte with cold water, cold brews are brewed cold and are intended to be consumed cold,” Cowan says.

“It has a very consistent flavour profile, and it’s perfect for cooking use or for cocktails.”

As for other trends the store has had to adapt to, Cowan says he is “baffled” by the popularity of soy milk.

“Soy and almond milk is a trend we’ve had to accommodate, though I believe that almond milk will eventually fade out,” he says.

“I am amazed at the popularity of soy milk.”

Further responses about 2016 drink trends show that all but 8% of respondents are sick of drinks coming in mason jars, and extravagant ‘freakshakes’ are equally as unimpressive.

Finally, the report founds 36% of the hospitality sector believe mobile venues, such as pop-up restaurants and food trucks, will have the greatest impact on consumer preferences for the rest of 2016.

Rooftop and other outdoor venues are also tipped to see an uptick in popularity, but the days of pub refurbishments may be gone, with only 13% of those surveyed believing it will be a hot trend for the summer.

In good news for businesses but bad news for hungry customers, long lines for hip venues are set to continue to be prominent, with 58% of respondents foreseeing the popular ‘no-booking’ trend continuing throughout the year.

“Taking walk-ins minimises the implications of non-showings, therefore much more profitable for the restaurant to do so,” said Impos chief executive Sean O’Meara in a statement

“Venues don’t really turn many people away, and chances are if you do wait in line, you will get a table.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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