McCain Foodservice’s launched the What’s Hot report to help operators stand out in an ultra-competitive market where identifying opportunities and staying ahead of trends can make the difference between success and failure.

Jo Simmons, McCain Foods senior brand manager, explains: “As new trends come and go, changes to what consumers eat, where they eat, and how they eat take place. Operators take influence from fresh new cuisines, bold new flavours make it on to menus, and new dining options emerge. Technology also has a big influence.

“With so many changes happening it can be hard to pick out the opportunities that will work for your business, and those that will make headlines and then disappear, so we’ve rounded up a few of the key ones that we believe can help caterers stay hot and ahead of the competition in the next year.”

Value Scrutiny The slight downturn in the economy means consumers are scrutinising their spending more closely than ever. That doesn’t necessarily mean they want the cheapest option but they do want hearty portions, great value food and excellent standards of service.

Convenience A 6% rise in quick-service lunch visits shows convenience is a central part of customers’ decision-making, with rushed millennials leading hectic lives and preferring to grab high-quality hot bites while on the go. The popularity of meals like topped fries that can be eaten in the hand or on the go, or shared with friends can be seen as a response to this trend.

Informality When consumers are dining in they’re increasingly viewing eating as an opportunity to socialise, catch up and take a break from the business of modern life. To provide for this, venues are offering food that’s easy to share, such as topped fries, communal seating, or taking a casual ‘pay first, leave whenever’ approach to service that creates a more casual environment. Cashless and waiter-less payment systems are helping operators to meet these needs.

Meals that look as good as they taste Social media savvy diners not only want food to taste good they want it to look photogenic so they can take and share pictures with apps such as Instagram.

In response to this, foods that look and taste great are making a big impact on menus – think colourful roots, squashes, and vegetables, alongside vibrantly-coloured ingredients like bright yellow turmeric, dark red sumac and the now ubiquitous avocado.

Other key trends include Indulgence, Foodie Culture, Provenance and Sustainability, Healthy Eating, and Technology. To find out more about these trends and the opportunities they can provide visit to see the full report.