Understanding Trend Predictions: Vegetables

We just highlighted a laundry list of food trend predictions for 2013. There’s a thread that run’s through quite of bit of these predictions: Vegetables.

  • Food consulting company Baum + Whiteman mentioned that seaweed moves beyond sushi and “Kale trickles down to mass-market feeders …”
  • Cooking Light predicted “Sexy Veggies” and that “Flavors will be bigger and bolder with an emphasis on vegetables with bitter undertones like Brussels sprouts and other cabbages, kale, and cauliflower.”
  • Research firm Technomic predicted that “Vegetables take their star turn” and  “creative presentations of roasted or steamed veggies.” will impact the restaurant industry in 2013.

Let’s look at some of the vegetables that were mentioned, by multiple sources, to grow in 2013 (figuratively).

Vegetables Overall - Using Food Genius Reports, our platform of 100,000 restaurant menus, we can see that the most common way to prepare vegetables currently is to saute or roast them.


Top preparations across all vegetables by unique menus

Cauliflower – Cauliflower can only be found on 6% of restaurant menus currently. American restaurants are the most common to serve cauliflower, but surprisingly Indian restaurants are the second most. 27% of all menus that feature cauliflower are from Indian restaurants.

Kale - Kale can only be found on 1% of restaurant menus currently. There may be a lot of predictions for its growth, but it is still a very niche ingredient in restaurants. It is mostly found in American cuisine and 50% of all kale mentions come from NY, CA, and IL.

Seaweed – Seaweed is an unsung hero when it comes to menuing; it can be found on 7% of restaurant menus currently. It is typically mentioned as a specific type of seaweed, like “nori”, “wakame” or “kombu”. It is mostly driven by Japanese and Chinese cuisine; and the recent popularity of sushi helps drive that as well . However, there are many American restaurants utilizing seaweeds, mostly with salads. Public in New York has a Roasted Chatham cod with manila clams, crispy potato, sesame wakame salad and smoked uni cream or Market Bar’s Ahi Salad with Sesame crusted Ahi Tuna, julienned vegetables, wakame, buckwheat noodles & ginger vinaigrette.

Photo taken by Foodspotting user Eldon CARBIE BARBIE

Photo taken by Foodspotting user Eldon CARBIE BARBIE

Squash – Squash can actually be found on quite a few menus, 23% of the total menus Food Genius tracks. Even though its commonly used as a side item for entrees, about 10% of all squash menu items are desserts.  A turkish restaurant in Brooklyn named Kofte Piyaz serves an oven baked butternut squash in syrup with walnuts for dessert.

Turnips – Turnips can be found on only 1% of menus and is mostly found at independent restaurants. The most popular way to prepare them currently is to pickle them, a technique common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Sunchoke – Sunchokes aren’t even catching on enough for us to track them yet, which means they are mentioned less than 200 times across the entire country.

Brussels Sprouts - Although some may argue that brussels sprouts have had their day already, they can only be found on 1% of restaurant menus currently. The “go to” way to prepare them currently is to roast them, which is the only preparation method to happen with enough frequency to be significant (and in our opinion the most delicious preparation).

This popular recipe from the web from 101 Cookbooks only uses 4 ingredients.

This popular and high rated recipe from the web, via 101 Cookbooks, only uses 4 ingredients.

Mizuna -This peppery and piquant Japanese green is just barely starting to show up on menus, but when it does it is being used in a mix of other salad greens or as a unique leafy green on sandwiches.

Carrots - The carrot is the most common vegetable out of all the vegetables mentioned above, found on 34% of unique menus. 50% of the time carrots are mentioned in salads. Given that they are a widely recognized vegetable, there is definitely an opportunity to feature more variety in carrots by using unique preparations, featuring carrots in other meal parts, and using unique types of carrots.


Photo taken by Flickr user Chiot's Run

Photo taken by Flickr user Chiot’s Run

Keep up to date on trend predictions by looking at other topics like grains in our understanding trend predictions series.

What are some of your favorite vegetables and veggie dishes?

**Bold data was found using Food Genius Reports on 2/15/2013

Benjamin Stanley is co-founder and VP of Product for Food Genius. He has a degree in culinary arts and a background in foodservice & food product development from various food and food ingredient manufacturers.

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