Franchises rarely get credit as trendsetters. But, when they latch onto a trend, it's guaranteed to go nationwide.
At the International Franchise Expo, Entrepreneur had a chance to chat with a number of restaurant franchises about what they believed to be the most important trends in the food industry. Some are focused on new menu items, while others are toying with fresh means of serving customers food. All of them were dedicated to stay relevant by incorporating these new developments into their own businesses.
Here are eight trends that franchises told Entrepreneur they're watching right now.
1. Transparent food prep
"Everything prepared in front of the customer is really in: Chipotle, Subway, Jersey Mike, everybody does it in front of you. The method that we use finally allows us to freeze the ice cream in front of customers."
-- Jay Yim, CEO, Creamistry
2. Single ingredient concepts
"A lot of people are now taking this concept of single ingredient concepts… That's a challenge, and some people don't execute it as well. Everyone talks about today, oh it's a single ingredient concept, but [that's not a bad thing.] Pizza is a single ingredient concept, too."
-- Allen Dikker, founder, Potatopia
"The hot trend is grab and go – what can people grab and run and eat."
-- Tabitha Locke, national sales director, Happy & Healthy Products Inc.
4. Asian food
"Asia is really big right now. I would even consider The Halal Guys in that realm – the Middle East, Asia."
-- Jimmy Kruyne, Brand Marketing Coordinator at FranSmart for The Halal Guys
5. Health regulation
"There's lots of regulations on health and calories, but we're not afraid of them because we're [a] concept that [emphasizes] indulgence… It's not something people would eat every day."
-- Mark Cunningham, global chief business development officer, Smokes Poutine
"Definitely popsicles -- and they're continuing to be hot. I like gelato… because it's a healthier option than ice cream."
-- Anthony Fellows, founder, HipPOPs
"Bacons big these day. You see it on pizzas, you see it in milkshakes."
-- Tony Ozellous, Real estate manager for the Northeast U.S., Checkers/Rally's
8. Weird innovation
"The answer to what's the new trend, there isn't a new trend. There's so many weird things going on – we need innovators."
-- Scott Nelowet, founder, French Fry Heaven