What the US wants: comfort, authenticity and trucks
3 October, 2011
Food trucks, authenticity and comfort are among the big trends in the US food market right now, according to renowned restaurant guru Nancy Kruse.
Kruse was talking in a ‘State of the Plate’ address to the recent Menu Trend and Directions conference in the US, produced by Nation’s Restaurant News, Technomic and Kruse’s own company, The Kruse Co. She said the challenging economic environment was fostering innovation, with operators trying out new dishes to pull customers in.
Food trucks have been a growing trend in the US for some time now, but they are starting to have a major influence on customers’ habits, Kruse argued. ”Food truck fare is fun, convenient, sometimes exotic and generally high quality, and food truck service is unintimidating, personal and communal. When you factor in the digital and spontaneous aspects of food truck marketing, the segment is rapidly reshaping the customer experience.” Kruse singled out trucks including The Dump Truck in Portland, Lardon in Los Angeles and Streetza Pizza in Milwaukee for special praise.
But while people want innovation, there is also a desire for authenticity, Kruse said. “That doesn’t just mean freshness or flavor, but goes way, way beyond that. Authenticity takes into account preparation, provenance, product quality and how items are promoted.” Freshness and traditional cooking techniques are much more important now. “All of you are being pushed to respond to new evolving demands from the customer regarding authenticity,” she told restaurant operators.
On the comfort front, meanwhile, waffles and pretzels have seen a major revival in the US, often with innovative twists. “We are awash in waffle-mania,” said Kruse.
For the full story, see Nancy Kruse: State of the plate.