International food and restaurant consultants Baum + Whitman have released their forecast of the biggest trends in 2016. At the top of the list? Food delivery. A number of companies such as Uber and Amazon have entered the restaurant food delivery arena over the last year and this trend is set to continue. The most notable thing about the companies entering the food delivery space is that the none of them actually make the the food, "they're just middlemen connecting restaurants and customers ... collecting fees and personal information about who orders what, when, and from which restaurant."
So how will this affect restaurants? Some are entering the delivery game themselves, such as Starbucks and Chipotle is "tinkering with a second assembly line so [their] stores can ramp up delivery." Essentially, a number of fast casual restaurants will have to think about redesigning how they serve food to accommodate for delivery, which could in turn impact how quickly customers can actually pick up food at the restaurants.
Other trends in the report include the rise of "clean" menus, meaning those that are free of artificial ingredients, the decline of pasta, the continual rise of vegetables, the growing popularity of poke, and acai bowl infiltrating the country. Baum + Witman also predicts that 2016 will be the year of fried chicken, more retail stores like Urban Outfitters will add restaurants, and that next year's buzzwords include "burnt vegetables," "root-to-stalk" cooking, "falafel," and "paella."