Food Trends and Purchasing: How do they Intersect? 

By Clint Elkins, Vice President of Sales
SB Value

In the food and beverage industry, we can all agree on one thing – trends for events are always changing, and there are many factors that go into what clients are looking to serve at the events that they host. Whether it’s a corporate get-together or a wedding, food can really make or break an event. We have some tips for keeping those trends in mind when purchasing food, and how to elevate the guest experience in doing so.Trends that should be on your radar
When purchasing food, it can be difficult to ensure that you’re covering all of the bases when it comes to popular dishes. Appropriate menu items for one event may not be a good fit for another. However, bowl-served foods allow for lots of originality and creativity and can be tailored to your clients’ taste, no matter the occasion.

Plant-based proteins seem to be on the rise as well. With lots of new products on the menu, options have evolved a long way from tofu being the only non-meat protein. Consider how you can “play” with your food by offering out-of-the-box desserts and eye-catching displays when your budget doesn’t necessarily allow for a large selection. Mocktails are growing in popularity as well and can offer a fun alternative for your clients.

Evergreen options (and what to stay away from)
With more environmental awareness and new farming techniques, there are many sustainable options available, and some that you may not even have considered as being sustainable. Sustainable chicken, turkey, and seafood items are easy to find with a little research. For example, Monterey Bay Aquariums’ seafood watch is a great resource. Just keep in mind that while these are great for any clientele regardless of event and guest preference, some have limited availability.

On the other hand, sliders, mac and cheese variations, and avocado toast seem like they may be losing some steam. Clients that are still seeking out those items are transforming the ingredients altogether, such as opting for plant pasta or serving meatless burger patties.

How event size plays into rising food trends
When planning a large event, the buyer will need to think about a number of factors that may come into play. Be sure to communicate with your supplier to make sure they are aware of the event’s upcoming needs - this is extremely important as you want to make sure that the product you need will be available for the requested timeline.

Think about the event and how the product will be served and held. If it varies from normal procedures (i.e. the aforementioned bowl-served foods or otherwise), you may want to explore options that better suit your event. Storage space is a concern as well and should be taken into consideration. Do you have enough capacity for refrigeration of all the product you’re bringing, keeping in mind of what it will look like after being prepared? Some ingredients don’t keep as well as others, and some items are better off not refrigerated in the same containers as others for reheating or reuse purposes.

Understanding what event guests are looking for and how ingredients can be used uniquely is the best way to maximize their experience and show that you’re in the know on current and rising food trends! 

Clint Elkins is the VP of Sales at SB Value, a group purchasing program designed to reduce catering, kitchen and food-service costs by leveraging the collective buying power of thousands of companies.

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