Meat substitutes, food halls and experiential dining are predicted to become more prevalent in casual dining over the coming years, according to a new report from McCain Foodservice.
McCain’s 2018 Casual Dining report highlights the importance of catering for vegans, with the number of adults following a plant-based diet increasing approximately 500% since 2016 and around 52% of outlets offering at least one vegan option.
Healthier options are also growing in importance, with 50% of diners saying they consider whether these will be available when choosing where to eat out. That being said, the report encourages operators to find a balance between healthy and indulgent options so that consumers don’t feel like they are moderating or calorie counting.
It’s not just about what’s on the menu, as spending patterns indicate that people are spending more money on outlets that offer experiences, such as interactive and communal dining, which is driving the growth of food halls. The report argues that this style of outlet appeals across generations due to the open and spacious set up, relaxed table turnover and the opportunity to discover new traders.
For when consumers choose to eat at home rather than out, but still don’t want to cook, more and more restaurants are making their menus accessible. A restaurant that adopts a model that works for both in-house and at-home diners can benefit by increasing exposure and visits.
Finally, the prevalence of craft beer in casual dining restaurants looks set to rise as people continue to drink less but better. Operators can offer a craft beer as an alternative to a bottle of wine, and can encourage orders alongside food by providing tasting notes and pairing recommendations on the menu.
“In an increasingly competitive sector, we know how important it is for operators to be agile and adapt quickly to cater for changes in trends and consumer behaviour,” says Jo Simmons, McCain Foods senior brand manager.