Millennials and hospitality trends
New entrepreneurial fast food brands with a focus on the big food and menu trends of freshness, healthiness and adventurousness are driving consumer experiences on the high street.
We are now seeing these trends translate into the conference and event catering, instigated by Millennials in their 20s and 30s who are not only eating out more often, but sharing their experiences with their peers and colleagues on social media.
With 2016 in full swing, Levy Restaurants UK, the specialist caterer at some of the UK’s most significant sporting, arena, leisure and heritage venues, reveal what trends we are currently seeing in conference and event catering this year:
Gone are the days where a cup of coffee was solely used as a jolt of energy to get you through a conference or business meeting. Coffee is now commonly viewed as an experience, where people want to know more about what’s in their cup, so it’s important to engage with consumers in the story of their drink. It’s about relationships, with coffee farmers, roasters and baristas all involved in the process.
Eat your greens
Many venues will be adopting a ‘vegetable-forward’ philosophy, cutting back on meat and carbohydrate heavy menus, responding to a wider growing trend of conscious, healthy eating. An introduction of lighter options will keep you energised throughout the day, avoiding the inevitable mid-afternoon conference lull, when your sugar levels are at their lowest.
As testament to this approach, the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) was recently named as the world’s first accredited ‘healthy venue’, achieving silver status in the World Obesity Federation’s Healthy Venue Awards. Furthermore the SECC and Olympia London have also designed vegan specific menus for VegFestUK, one of the largest vegan lifestyle shows in Europe.
Mixing fusion with niche ingredients
While classic British dishes are still a favourite, we expect to see a lot more variety on offer, with dishes from the Middle East, the Mediterranean and South-East Asia appearing. Served in small quantities, these infusions of niche ingredients offer something a little different, whilst also leading the dining experience with a health conscious angle.
Back in 2015, we developed menus for the London Wellbeing Festival at London Olympia with dishes on the menu including Thai marinated rare beef, crispy seaweed salad and a variety of different sushi. Vegan and organic dishes are also ones to look out for this year.
A little more theatre...
Bringing dishes to life with food theatre will be a trend we see in 2016. This means preparing ingredients and cooking dishes in front of your audience which makes for a fun spectacle. Wok stations are a great example of this where delegates can choose fresh ingredients to suit their tastes and see their food cooked live.
Alongside this, a food trend we expect to see develop throughout the year is the growing request for grab and go options, inspired by new movements such as street food and market vendors.
Smoothies and juices
Requests for fresh juices and smoothies will continue to be important in the conference sector. Both are a great way of improving the clarity of your mind, maintaining focus and attention throughout the day. There is a lot to be said for fresh nutrients, helping you to replenish your body with an abundance of antioxidants – exactly what you need for a day at conference.