Homestyle foods and regional American cuisine to be next food trends in 2012When it comes to dining in 2012, consumers are going to want slow-cooked foods fast.

That’s the prediction being made by market research group Mintel, which released its forecast for the US foodservice industry on Monday.

While fast and convenient food service will continue to be popular in 2012, consumers will be increasingly seduced by promises of rustic, hearty, homemade foods — dishes that imply careful preparation, labor-intensive cooking and less processing.

Expect to see more quick service restaurants jump on this rising interest, says Mintel, with new menu items using descriptors like ‘home style’ and ‘handmade.’

The rising interest in home-style foods could be trickling down from food manufacturers, which over the past year have used the label ‘artisanal’ as the latest marketing ploy to win customers, said Datamonitor analysts recently.

In the past five years, for instance, more than 800 new products carried the term ‘artisan’ on their packaging.

Here are the other foodservice trends Mintel predicts for 2012:

  • American regionalism: In addition to global cuisine, consumers will also become more interested in regional specialties that define American cuisine. Foods like Memphis barbecue, New England chowder or southern grits will become increasingly popular.
  • Double-sided menus: In addition to regular fare, restaurants will recognize the demand for healthier menu options and offer a ‘double-sided’ menu for lower calorie foods. According to Mintel, restaurants will also extend this concept to premium and value-priced items.
  • Consumer control: Eateries will also offer more customized ordering systems to give diners greater options.
  • Importing ideas: Multinational restaurant chains will turn to their international markets for inspiration and import menu concepts from overseas. McDonald’s McBites — miniature chicken McNuggets first created in Australia — is offered as one example of of an international import set to launch in the US next year. — AFP RELAXNEWS