Sponsored by Dinova.
Dietary restrictions top the major food service trends of 2016. Vegetarian and gluten-free dining are becoming more mainstream, reflecting a growing shift toward more plant-based diets, locally sourced food, and healthier alternatives. Just like the overall market trends, corporations are also following suit to make sure that company sponsored events include menu options that meet their employees’ dietary preferences and restrictions.
These changes are directly affecting the 2016 holiday business party season. Restaurants who are willing to take advantage of this trend by offering appealing vegetarian and gluten-free menu offerings could realize a significant market advantage and win more lucrative corporate holiday business.
Dinova market research shows special diets matter, especially at business celebrations.
2016 market research from Dinova shows that dietary restrictions will be a major factor for corporate business celebrations, which represent major Q4 sales for restaurants. Dinova, a $5B marketplace that exclusively connects business expense account diners to quality restaurants, reports that ticket averages for their network restaurants increase 34-36% in December alone. Year-end office holiday parties and corporate celebrations are a big driver of the incremental December sales volume.
Dinova recently surveyed its corporate members, which include more than 40 percent of the Fortune 100 companies, about their holiday party planning policies, guidelines and needs. The report summarizes the results of a 10-question survey completed by Dinova member companies. As noted in the report, significant numbers of respondents plan to include vegetarian, gluten-free and kosher menu options in their request for proposals.
The move to include special dietary options in business celebrations reflects corporations’ commitment to helping guests feel welcomed and appreciated.
“I definitely think companies today have a heightened awareness of individual dining needs,” notes Michele DeCosta, Senior Category Strategist, Procurement, Talent and Enterprise Services, Liberty Mutual Insurance. “Corporate party planners are more aware and tend to include vegetarian and gluten free menus. It’s a way of showing respect for people.
Content Director and Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal, John Bradley explains why the trend is important. "Food choices have moved beyond issues of hunger, availability, or even a vague desire to be 'healthy,' to personal values and questions of actual identity… motivations range from health to emotions to ethics to personal identities.”1
Vegetarian is big news and big business for restaurants seeking corporate events.
The Dinova research findings mirror general market dynamics for 2016. Overall, diners are choosing meat-free meals more often. Notable dietary trends include a move toward vegetarian and gluten-free dining as well as a marked preference for farm-to-table and non-GMO food. Full vegetarianism as well as “flexitarian” dining, the practice of consuming less meat overall, is on the rise.
Gluten-free now recognized as desirable and more healthful.
Interest in gluten-free food also continues to grow. Gluten-free menu items have more than doubled in the past three years, and is now one of the top nutritional ingredient claims. The U.S. market for gluten-free food is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 10.26% during 2016-2020.2 As a result, an estimated ten percent of restaurants now offer a gluten-free menu. Given these trends, offering gluten-free party options for corporate affairs, is really a no brainer.
At its core, a corporate holiday party celebrates employees and their contributions to the business. Accordingly, it makes perfect sense for companies to include offerings for varied dietary requirements.
As employee dietary preferences change, savvy restaurateurs can win more business with dishes that appeal to vegetarian and gluten-free corporate party guests. It’s a menu bound to feed corporate holiday event sales.
1 Nutrition Business Journal Announces The 2015 Food Tribes Report (NutritionBusinessJournal.com)