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CHICAGO -- Although foodservice operators must compete in a crowded marketplace, there are specific ways to appeal to customers. Mintel Menu Insights has outlined five trends it predicts will shape U.S. restaurant menus in 2012.
These key trends include: -- American regionalism, highlighting area specialties like New England chowder or Memphis barbecue; -- Double-sided menus that balance indulgent items with healthier ones, and premium with value-priced options; -- Consumer control, such as customized ordering systems and flexible menu design that ensures customer desires are heard and met; -- Slower, more time-intensive preparation methods that offer consumers more than efficiency in their dining experience; and -- Good ideas imported from overseas, such as McDonald's McBites, which debuted in Australia before coming to the United States.
"Our trends are designed to give both restaurant operators and food suppliers a thorough understanding of what's coming in the foodservice industry," said Eric Giandelone, foodservice director for Mintel. "Our trends are based on original consumer research, developments among restaurants, and trends observed in other industries. Our goal with these trend predictions isn't merely to identify what's going to happen, but to deliver a roadmap on how to take advantage of these trends."