Revival of cultural cuisine, diversified menus, retail sector among six U.K. restaurant trends expected for 2012, Technomic says

CHICAGO , November 11, 2011 (press release) – The foodservice scene in the U.K. continues evolving in appealing ways, with some trends mirroring developments also seen in other parts of the world, while other trends are distinctly British. Looking forward, Technomic has identified six key U.K. foodservice trends expected to play major roles in 2012:

1. The Revival of British Cuisine: The U.K.'s current crop of leading independent chefs is striving to change global perceptions of their national cuisine. The result of their kitchen innovations is the "New British" cuisine, a reworking of traditional British dishes that uses a broader range of ingredients, flavours and preparation techniques. Expect chefs to incorporate more global influences and local ingredients into their dishes in the coming year. The culinary renaissance of British cuisine will help cement London's reputation as a hot spot for foodies around the world.

2. Hyping Up Hyperlocality: British chefs are finding ways to connect to their homeland like never before by using local products, including foraged items, and even growing their own vegetables and herbs in rooftop and onsite gardens. These menu-sourcing practices promote fresh, local and seasonal items in dishes. As local and seasonal items become more in-demand, expect more chefs to explore the benefits of house-grown or foraged ingredients in menu development.

3. Global Cuisines Diversify Menus: The Mexican segment has expanded in the U.K. over the past few years, opening the door for other global cuisines to tempt British palates. Following Restaurant magazine's naming of Copenhagen's Noma restaurant as the world's best for the past two years, British interest in Scandinavian cuisine is on the rise. Also, street foods such as Chinese dumplings and Mexican empanadas are creating buzz among chefs, providing an inexpensive and creative way to explore new flavours and dishes.

4. iTrend -- Technology Reshapes Patrons' Dining Experience: Technology has already transformed the way operators correspond with customers, and now it is poised to change their restaurant service and atmosphere. Operators who incorporate leading technologies into their service model-such as providing iPods with music or replacing waiters with electronic ordering devices-will propel themselves ahead of their competitors by creating unique, unforgettable away-from-home meals.

5. Restaurants Race into Retail: Consumers are still saving their earnings for the unpredictable economic climate ahead. To keep sales afloat, many restaurant operators will turn to the retail sector for new revenue streams. Look for an influx of take-home meals from both chain and independent restaurant brands in a variety of retail establishments. These value-driven meals could help offset lagging restaurant sales while preserving pounds in patrons' pockets.

6. The Lure of Emerging Markets: Due to escalating operating costs and slower traffic in the U.K., some operators have tightened the reins on domestic expansion. Such economic hardships are causing many U.K. operators to explore emerging international markets for new store development. Look for a push into Brazil, Russia, India, China and the Middle East by U.K.-based operators. These booming global economies offer U.K. operators a relatively untapped foodservice landscape with fewer competitors, lower operating costs and a large consumer base eager for internationally branded restaurant options.

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