Looking for 2016’s top food trends? Yep, sustainability!

This article originally appeared on the National Restaurant Association’s website, here.

Local sourcing of produce, meat and seafood are among top restaurant trends for 2016, according to the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot culinary forecast.

The survey, which focuses on the responses of nearly 1,600 professional chefs, also identified continued interest in food waster reduction and environmental sustainability as top trends.

Locally sourced meat and seafood rank at the top of the list, while locally grown produce and hyper-local sourcing were ranked No. 3 and 4. Environmental sustainability as a culinary theme came in sixth, and sustainable seafood was ninth.

“Diners want to know as much as they can about what they’re eating, especially when they’re at restaurants,” said Jeff Clark, director of the NRA’s Conserve sustainability program. “They want to understand everything – from the way a certain food tastes to how the farmer grew it to how far it traveled to get to the plate. Chefs and operators know this and are more engaged in telling their stories and acting in environmentally friendly ways. Our survey bears this out. The industry and its customers are seeking out foods that are not only flavorful, but also minimally impact the environment.”

Forty-four percent of the chefs surveyed said local sourcing was the food trend that grew the most in the last decade. And 41 percent said environmental sustainability would grow most over the next 10 years.

“We’ve been seeing strong trends toward sustainability in the food space for several years now, and it’s clear that’s going to continue to grow,” said Annika Stensson, the NRA’s director of research communications. “Many Americans want their food choices to fit in with the way they live their lives these days, being mindful of the environmental impact of everything from transportation to home appliances to household cleaning products.”

Laura Abshire, the NRA’s director of sustainability, said discussion about food waste seems to be everywhere. “I’m proud to say our industry is taking notice and becoming more aware of the problem. Restaurant operators are really starting to change their thinking around food recovery and reducing waste.”