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Emerging Concepts in Foodservice: Informal Occasions a Critical Part of Dining Culture

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By: Stephen Dutton

    As food-as-lifestyle trends take hold across the world, consumers want genuine, unpretentious experiences, where the food takes centre stage at any price point. Street food is appearing on more menus, while fine dining is becoming relaxed and approachable: this is the “new informal” in global dining.

    Street Stalls/Kiosks as a percentage of total consumer foodservice by region in 2016 (value vs. transactions) bar graph. Compares% of total CFS transactions and % of total CFS value in Asia Pacific, Australasia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa, North America, and Western Europe.

    A demand for less pretentious, food-first dining experiences has created a level of informality in foodservice—good food in an atmosphere that feels genuine, relaxed and approachable.

    Consumers see dining out as an experience worth spending on, but it must be sensible and accessible. Most importantly, food remains fundamental at any price point.

    Informal dining occasions, such as street food, are highly attractive to consumers wanting to experience the best of local culture. Food typically found among street stalls and kiosks appear more frequently on menus across foodservice channels.

    Restaurants generate excitement with street food on the menu

    Traditional restaurants may offer street food on the menu to tap into global dining culture and to make the experience feel more approachable and informal. The appeal of street food can be repackaged and repurposed in a format that best suits the targeted consumer.

    An example of a foodservice operator offering ‘upscale affordability’ is Barra Chalaca in Peru, launched in 2016.

    Lima-based Barra Chalaca is a cevichería that offers street food in an upscale environment. Barra Chalaca specialises in local, Peruvian-style fish commonly found among informal street stalls in the market. Backed by Gaston Acurio, a well-known chef in the city, this concept provides the experience of eating casual food types in a premium setting with outdoor seating and bar.

    Lima based restaurant Barra Chalaca that offers street food in an upscale enviroment.

    Consumers want genuine, authentic and memorable dining experiences at any price point. Formats built on convenience, such as street stalls, fast food and other price-friendly options, are improving in terms of quality. At the same time, high-end restaurants are adapting to provide an informal dining experience that feels more attainable. How consumers dine is a reflection of how they want to live, and food is at the front and centre of their experiences.

    To learn more about which food and lifestyle trends are having the most impact on the foodservice industry, download our white paper ‘New Concepts in Foodservice: Best of 2017’ which showcases global emerging concepts and explore how these new trends are being realised in the foodservice industry.

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