2015 in Review: Supplier News & Trends

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This past year a major trend in the food industry that has been growing for years continues to grow momentum and wide spread acceptance. Take a look at the [National Restaurant Association's list of the hottest trends in 2015.

  • Locally sourced meats

  • Locally grown produce

  • Environmental sustainability

  • Healthful kids' meals

  • Natural/minimally processed ingredients

  • New cuts of meat

  • Hyper-local sourcing

  • Sustainable seafood

  • Food waste management

  • Farms

You notice a pattern in that top ten list. With prices rising for produce and protein and consumers demanding more insight to the source of their food, restaurants are going local to try to get the most out of their orders. Needless to say, 2016 will shed light on the state of chain grocery-stores.

Food Waste Management

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While much of the world struggles for food security, food waste is a major concern in many other parts of the world. The numbers are staggering, as the industrialized world wastes almost as much food (222 million pounds) as the production of food in all of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million pounds), and over one-third of produced food is lost or wasted in production or consumption systems. Did you know that South Africa wastes more than 9 million tons of food annually, and that in the use 30-40% of the food supply is wasted? We are long overdue to reevaluate our systems and create better ones. Drastic statistics led suppliers to investigate new ways to try to reduce food waste.

Recently France passed a law that forbids suppliers to waste food, and that law will be in effect starting in 2016. The French Assembly is instructing suppliers to compost excess food or donate the food waste to a charity so that it can be re-purposed into a healthy meal. Furthermore, the Assembly requires French schools to teach about food waste. All this legislation stems from food waste in France where every year a person throws away 40 to 60 pounds of food.

Even restaurants are getting into the mix with "anti food-waste" take home containers!

Sustainable Seafood

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Alternative methods of fishing have led to the revitalization of seafood in 2015. Fisherman are acknowledging the old way of fishing, going out on the sea to catch as much as a possible of the same fish, is doing more harm than good.

Scientists and fisherman alike are trying new ways to grow a sustainable seafood industry. At the forefront of the seafood sustainability movement is a concept called catch shares in which a limit, called the Total Allowable Catch, is set and then set shares are designated to fishermen, communities and fisheries who are responsible for not exceeding their shares. Shares can be bought and sold, and by not having restrictions on when or where to fish, fishermen can plan their businesses accordingly.

Many restaurants are aiding in sustainably responsible practices by aligning with "restaurant-supported fisheries" to support local fisheries and ensure they receive the freshest catch. Similar to community supported agriculture (CSA) that drives the farm-to-table movement, restaurant-supported fisheries support the new Dock-to-Dish concept that is gaining popularity coast to coast.

Will this Dock-to-Dish replace Farm-to-Table?

Farm-to-Table

Like how we transitioned there? The Farm-to-Table movement absolutely DOMINATED 2015 with big name chefs jumping on the bandwagon faster than ever. Farm-to-Table has one major component- locality, which in turn resulted in local farms having great success in 2015 due to the demand for local flavors.

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The Farm-to-Table movement incorporates almost all of the top ten trends mentioned at the beginning of the blog. Food Security? Farms have it. Local? You can find a local farm just miles away from big cities such as DC, NY, and SF (Where BlueCart offices are located). Sustainability? Is there anything more sustainable than a farm? Don't think so!

The farm-to-table movement's core is community and creating a strong relationship between restaurants and suppliers. Just like BlueCart.

Suppliers, Put Your Thinking Caps On

Trends can sometimes be a main stay in the supplier world. Case in point- look at 2015 protein and seafood. 2015 forced restaurants to seek out lower priced protein and fish. Chef's looked for new meat and seafood to create culinary masterpieces with. This led suppliers scrambling to find fish to sell at a lower price point and could give chefs the flavor they craved.

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This trend should continue in 2016- as another blog post explores. Suppliers should delve deep into the ocean or experiment with cuts of meat. That's what successful suppliers did in 2015.

Those are the big stories and trends we noticed for 2015. Tweet at us or write on our Facebook page if you think we missed a story. And remember Suppliers can use BlueCart to organize all their orders!