NPD's 2016 Outlook — It's All About the Food

Keeping up with the latest health trends in the foodservice industry is an ongoing challenge. Fortunately for foodservice operators, consumers’ definition of healthy food has broadened. It’s less about removing negatives or adding positives, and more about simply eating real food.
What will foodservice operators need to address in order to satisfy the growing demand for “real food?”
Make It Real
Consumers tend to define clean eating by what isn’t in their food, such as chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, and additives. They are looking for more locally sourced, house-made, and vegetarian-based dishes on menus.
Make It New
Meeting the needs of today’s ever-increasing multicultural population is no small feat. New menu items with unique flavors and ingredients will be even more important to getting consumers to choose you over the competition.
Make It Fresh
Fresh is becoming the mantra for healthier food choices when consumers go out to eat. Consumers want freshly prepared foods, quality foods made with real/fresh ingredients, and foods sourced locally when possible.
Make It Hot
This past year was filled with spicy sauces used on everything from burgers to pizza and fries. By using hot, spicy sauces and stronger flavor profiles, operators can influence consumers’ willingness to try menu items with these enhancements. 2016 will bring even more creativity to menu innovation, expanding into other unique sauces and ethnic cuisines.
Make It Like Home
Most can agree that everyone has at least one favorite comfort food dish. Some of the hottest chefs in America are taking these old favorites and infusing them with high-end, fresh ingredients. We anticipate continued innovation in this area.
Bottom Line
As we move into the New Year, focusing on consumers’ evolving food and beverage choices will lead to success. The ability to attract more customers in 2016 will ultimately come down to the food – it’s all about the food.
Non-commercial outlets 2016 Outlook
The forecast for traffic growth in 2016 is relatively flat, with a growth rate less than one percent. With continued focus on consumers’ ever-changing wants and needs, we can alter the current forecast of minimal growth. After all, forecasts are not cast in stone; they are to be used as a guideline and something to work against. What are you planning to accomplish in 2016?


The NPD Group is the industry’s leading source for foodservice trends and restaurant market research data. NPD’s CREST® service, which continually tracks consumers’ use of commercial and non-commercial foodservice, assists foodservice manufacturers, foodservice operators, and other foodservice organizations with strategic planning and positioning, product/menu development, and consumer targeting. For more information visit our website at