Market research firm Technomic has identified six foodservice trends they predict will be important to chefs in the upcoming year—and many of them could have a positive impact on energy consumption and energy costs.

The trends represent both an emphasis on classics—traditional recipes and simple, locally sourced ingredients—and on innovations, including the use of technology and heightened attention to health information.

Why local food? Lower energy costs, for one

This increased attention to simple preparations and sustainable ingredients is likely to have the most impact on reducing energy costs. Simpler recipes and dishes tend to mean fewer pieces of equipment, fewer tools needed, and, as a result, less energy used in prep.

As well, emphasizing a few exquisitely prepared dishes over an extensive menu designed to appeal to everyone means less waste, both in terms of preparation energy and leftovers.

Technology: not just Groupon and Foursquare

And while the emphasis on technology focuses on social media and location-specific marketing, this trend is only a step away from using technology to monitor and optimize energy usage. As restaurants become more comfortable integrating new technology into marketing and point-of-sale transactions, they’re more likely to start using comprehensive energy monitoring systems. It’s just a matter of time…

Six foodservice trends for 2012

  1. Classics, revisited. Gourmet hamburgers, souped-up poutine and high-end mac-and-cheese—chefs are going to be taking the classics and twisting them in new ways.
  2. Simplicity. Simpler recipes and preparations allow high-quality, locally sourced centre-of-the-plate ingredients to shine. This is potentially the trend that could have the most impact on energy consumption.
  3. Better kids’ menus. Watch for chicken nuggets and hot-dogs to be replaced by baked or grilled items, as high-calorie kids’ fare is replaced by more healthful alternatives that appeal to children’s more sophisticated palates.
  4. Full disclosure. Along with calorie counts and carbohydrate grams, restaurants will also be highlighting the sources of their ingredients as they emphasize sustainable, local meat and produce. This, not surprisingly, relates closely to trend #2—and can be an important step in convincing patrons to pay slightly more for better-quality ingredients.
  5. Tech, tech, tech. Groupon and other daily deal sites are already well entrenched, but restaurants are going to be embracing social media, mobile apps and location-specific sites like Foursquare. From there, it’s a logical step to using high tech products for energy monitoring and optimization.
  6. Pop-ups and food trucks. Chefs will be more likely to take their cooking on the road as eating formats grow more flexible. Think fast-casual versions of established sit-down restaurants, in either cart, truck or store-front form.

Any trends you think might be significant that aren’t mentioned here? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Image credit: gmtbillings