Value Means Quality to Restaurants in 2010

According to Mintel Menu Insights, quality menus are in the sights of the restaurant industry following a year of $5 menus, gourmet meals for paupers' prices, and buy one get one restaurant specials. The restaurant industry will focus on high quality food and ingredients to lure in diners, says the report.

Maria Caranfa, Registered Dietitian and senior analyst for Mintel Menu Insights, says "Restaurants are redefining ‘value' on the menu, moving away from the cost-savings that were so important earlier this year to incorporate high quality ingredients, classic flavor combinations and authentic, old-fashioned preparations. In 2010, we expect menus to go back to the basic roots of good food and drink."

Here are five trends that Mintel Menu Insights predicts for 2010:

Classically Simple
 In 2010, the report predicts chefs will harness the power of classic combinations and simple, pure ingredients. The top new menu item for chain restaurants in 2009 is an all-American classic, the burger. Look for more nostalgic, decadent pleasures on the menu: bacon, lobster, classic cocktails, milk-and-cookies and donut hole desserts.

 Next year, watch chefs add a homegrown, or "restaurant-grown," touch where they can: artisan breads and cheeses, house-infused spirits, locally sourced produce and meats. "Rustic" will be the buzzword that describes imperfectly-shaped pizza crusts and mashed potatoes. Restaurant-grown items are a great way for restaurants to differentiate themselves, says the report.

Dining Out...In
Half of Americans are spending less at restaurants because of the economy, so it's time for restaurants to come to them. Burger King is one of the latest to sell its food (French fries) in retail stores, but expect more retail-restaurant connections in 2010. And, more restaurants will uphold relationships with customers by using iPhone apps for menu changes and online ordering.

Inherent Health
Nearly nine in 10 Americans think eating healthy is important, but 63% say it's difficult at restaurants because there aren't enough healthy items. 2009 saw a trend towards healthier menus, but 2010 will see a sharp increase in good-for-you food and drink. Tomorrow's healthy menus will feature inherently nutritious items with fiber, omega-3, vitamins and antioxidants that deliver on flavor too, finds the study.

Regional Ethnic
In July, four in five adults told Mintel they'd eaten ethnic food at a restaurant in the past month. Cuisines like Mexican, Chinese and Italian have become so mainstream, however, that it's time to dig deeper. Restaurants will increasingly pinpoint specific regions --Tuscany, Brazil, Morocco, or even within the US, North Carolina BBQ -- to develop tomorrow's ethnic food.

For more information from Mintel, please visit them online here.

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