Over the last few years, emerging food trends have been significant in the way caterers are providing hospitality for meetings and events. Sustainable practices is one trend that’s seen a rise in popularity as the demand for environmentally friendly food, from locally sourced ingredients to reduced waste, is moving up the priority list for organisers.
Meetings and events catering can be tough. With so many mouths to feed, glasses to top and dietary requirements to consider, coupled with a growing food design trend and amateur photographers snapping each course, it’s now harder than ever for caterers.
Not only that, organisers and event attendees are now choosing catering options based on their environmental practices and whether the produce is sourced locally and responsibly. Initially, this can be a challenge for any food business, but the benefits can quickly be seen and starting costs regained.
From reducing waste by thinking of innovative ways and recipes to use leftover produce to growing fresh herbs from scratch, the process can be fun and economically rewarding, which is why so many restaurants and caterers are changing their practices, whilst also responding to consumer demand.
In the UK, the Sustainable Restaurants Association is working with over 800 restaurants and event caterers to help them in their mission to create fantastic events both ethically and sustainably. The SRA give restaurants a sustainability rating that examines 14 key focus areas to do with how successfully the business manages sourcing, the environment and society.
In North America, there are a huge number of restaurant organisations working with catering companies to help them to improve their practices, and in the annual ‘What’s Hot culinary forecast predicts’ survey from The National Restaurant Associations based in Washington, the top 10 trends for 2014 included six based on responsible food consumption including the top trend, which was locally sourced meats and seafood. Others in the list included locally grown produce, farm/estate branded items and environmental sustainability.
These types of trends have been gaining momentum for the past few years, indicating that these themes are influencing a number of culinary choices in a number of countries. Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the National Restaurant Association’s research and knowledge group said: “Today’s consumers are more interested than ever in what they eat and where their food comes from, and that is reflected in our menu trends research.
“True trends – as opposed to temporary fads – show the evolution of the wider shifts of our modern society over time, and focus on the provenance of various food and beverage items, unique aspects of how they are prepared and presented, as well as the dietary profiles of those meals.”