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Sustainability, Local Sourcing Top Restaurant Trends

From Environmental Leader , Published 02 January 2014

Locally sourced food, sustainability and waste reduction will be among the top restaurant  trends this year, according to a survey of about 1,300 US chefs.

The National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot in 2014 survey ranks locally sourced meats and seafood, locally grown produce and environmental sustainability as the no. 1, no. 2 and no. 3 trends, respectively, that will be on restaurant menus in 2014.

Hyper-local sourcing, such as restaurant gardens, comes in at no. 6, while sustainable seafood (no. 9) and nose-to-tail/root-to-stalk cooking (no. 11) — reducing food waste by using the entire animal or plant — also made the top 20 list.

The National Restaurant Association says local sourcing and environmental sustainability have been gaining momentum for several years, indicating that these wider themes influence the national culinary scene. Today’s consumers want to know where their food comes from, says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association’s research and knowledge group.

When asked which current food trend will be the hottest menu trends 10 years from now, environmental sustainability topped the list, followed by local sourcing, health-nutrition, children’s nutrition and gluten-free cuisine.

Almost half (43 percent) of diners say they would pay up to 10 percent more for a meal in a sustainable restaurant , according to a survey conducted in 2013 for the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). The survey also found more than half of diners would pay a premium for their meal if they knew the restaurant was investing in reducing its environmental impact and taking its social responsibility seriously.

Manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers threw away 4.1 billion pounds of food waste in 2011 , according to an assessment of data collected from the industry. The Food Waste Reduction Alliance, Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association conducted the study to provide a comprehensive assessment of the industry and to identify barriers to recycling food waste.

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