Salad Trends: Long-Lasting Heat

In “Salad Days” in the June/July 2014 issue of School Nutrition, author Brent T. Frei explores the popularity of salad not only in K-12 school nutrition programs, but in other U.S. foodservice industry segments, as well. There’s so much more to say about salad than could fit in a print article, so this additional online content is designed to provide some supplementary fun facts.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) annual What’s Hot survey of chefs, Americans’ infatuation with certain dishes, cuisines, preparation methods and culinary themes comes and goes—a “hot trend” one year is easily transformed into “yesterday’s news” in the course of only 12 months.

But the following items, all having some relation to salads served to young customers, are among the NRA’s top 20 food trends for 2014, and most of these have remained in the top 20 since 2009. The number accompanying each is its “hot” ranking among 209 items in 2014, with the number in parentheses representing its placement among the top 20 in 2013:

2. Locally grown produce (2)ǂ
4. Healthful kids’ meals (3)ǂ
5. Gluten-free cuisine (8)ǂ
7. Children’s nutrition*
8. Non-wheat noodles/pasta (12)
10. Farm/estate branded items (11)
12. Whole-grain items in kids’ meals (10)
15. Ancient grains**
19. Fruit/vegetable sides in kids’ meals (15)ǂ

ǂ Among the NRA’s top 20 food trends annually since 2009.
* “Children’s nutrition” debuted in the What’s Hot survey in 2014 to make a sizeable impression among chefs in its first year listed.
**“Ancient grains,” such as kamut, spelt, amaranth, etc., placed 32nd in 2013, jumping 17 places in menu “hotness” in 2014. Quinoa, also an ancient grain, is popular enough to get its own listing in the survey, and this year ranked 24th among 209 items.

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