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What's Hot in Food?

What's Hot in Food?

Before you decide which food business to work in, check out these top industry trends.

Sara Wilson | Entrepreneur Magazine

Consumers’ taste buds can be as fickle as their moods. As businesses race to keep up with the latest food-industry trends, those that successfully adapt their menus keep customers drooling for more. Here are five top trends to consider:

Low Carb:

Estimated to reach $30 billion this year, the low-carb industry has many scrambling to join the craze. Burger chains like Burger King, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have dropped the carbs by dropping the bun; smaller operators have introduced low-carb pizzas and wraps to their menus; and still others have responded by taking out croutons and introducing new types of dressings for their salads.

If business owners want to take part, they need to act fast or may miss the boat. The phenomenal popularity of the low-carb diet has many wondering if it’s just a passing fad or indeed a trend that’s here to stay. (For more details on the low-carb craze, read “Go With the Low.”)

Coffee Franchises:

Coffee giants like Starbucks have helped create a coffee culture in which people pay a high price for their daily dose of caffeine. They’ve also successfully secured a large share of the profits. But the $18 billion territory still leaves room for ambitious, smaller franchises like Dunn Bros Coffee and Bad Ass Coffee Co., which aren’t afraid of the competition.

Smaller companies can compete by responding to current coffee trends. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated with the variety of specialized drinks available, but flavors and additives can’t make up for the quality of coffee bean itself. “As with wine, people want a very sophisticated blend with their Ethiopian Limu, Mexican or organic fair-trade-certified coffees,” says Roger Cohen, president of Van Houtte USA – a coffee roaster, marketer and distributor – and its subsidiary, franchise Filterfresh Coffee Service. “There has been a quantum shift in the market away from the average cup of joe to a much different experience.”

Chicken:

While chicken and biscuits remains a classic, restaurants with adventurous creations like Hawaiian barbecue and garlic parmesan wings add new flare. Specializing in menu items like these, Wingstop has created its niche within the industry. Chicken can be incorporated into almost any menu, as Papa John’s demonstrates with its chicken Alfredo pizza. The versatility of chicken makes room for new entrants into the field, says Hal Sieling, managing partner of Hal Sieling & Associates, a business development firm.