US foodservice wholesalers servicing restaurant & catering markets, restaurants, event caterers and retail foodservice at mainstream supermarkets and specialist wholefood and organic retailers are just some of the ‘catering’ channels where there is increasing demand for organic and sustainable fresh and packaged foods such as ancient grains, ‘superfoods’, dairy-free, vegetarian and gluten-free, as consumers seek out healthier and tastier foods and beverages, including ethnic and global flavours.

Packaged food and beverages that are organic, sustainable and Fairtrade certified may be missing out on growing demand for sustainable products coming from global restaurant and catering and retail foodservice channels, a trend that is being seen in North America, the UK, Europe, Australia and many other countries.

Specialist restaurant chains such as Le Pain Quotidien, EXKi, Pret A Manger expanding globally, and retailers with ever expanding organic and wholefood eat in or to go options, such as Whole Foods Market, Wegmans supermarkets (both US), Monop (France), Planet Organic (London), Urban Fare (Vancouver/Canada) and Aboutlife (Sydney, Australia) are among the leaders.

According to the US National Restaurant Association Shows’ ‘What’s Hot in 2015: Top Restaurant and Food Trends’, annual sales in restaurants—defined as all meals/snacks prepared away from home, including takeout meals and beverages—hit $709 billion, a $26 billion increase from 2013-14. There are currently one million restaurants in the U.S., with 47% of all spending on US food happening in restaurants.

Market research firm Euromonitor International indicates that global consumer foodservice value increased over 5.4% in 2014, with more than US$2.7 trillion dollars in sales.

Full service restaurants accounted for the largest proportion of sales globally, followed by fast food and cafes/bars.

And the US Food and Drug Administration has introduced a national standard for chain restaurants to display calorie counts and will also ban artificial trans fats in retail and catering.

With consumers wanting to know more about the food they eat, every week brings new headlines about a national foodservice brand pledging to reduce or remove food additives from their menu or products, according to US speciality foodservice research company Technomic. Drawn from exclusive Consumer Trend Report data and distilled into a 3.5-minute video, Technomic’s “Consumer Connect 2015: Attitudes Toward Additives” delves into the decision drivers, preferences and need states that create demand for clean, additive-free food and transparent sourcing.

“Today’s consumers want wholesome, nutritious foods they can feel good about eating, and that increasingly translates into demand for natural and additive-free ingredients. More than half of consumers tell us they want greater menu transparency, and more restaurant chains are moving in that direction,” said Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights at Technomic.

“These are big industry shifts. The challenge to operators is making the right decisions that will resonate with their consumers and be a good long-term fit for the brand. Our industry research can help identify which food labels garner the most consumer attention and how to leverage food concerns into better sourcing decisions.”

Some findings detailed in Technomic’s “Consumer Connect 2015: Attitudes Toward Additives” video:

Health: More than 60% of consumers say natural meat is healthier, and 43% choose additive-free food and beverage because of better health. More specific terms have an even greater impact on consumers’ choices: 78% see “no artificial sweeteners” as healthier, and 73% say that antibiotic-free food or beverages are healthier.

Taste: 30% of consumers say GMO-free foods and beverages are tastier, and 21% think that additive-free means better taste.

Price: 31-35% of consumers would pay more for GMO-free proteins, and 33-42% of consumers would pay more for antibiotic-free proteins.

In the UK, Mintel estimates that total UK pub turnover reached £22.6 billion in 2014, up from £20.6 billion in 2010, with catering largely driving growth in the market, according to a Mintel report in June and its Pub Visiting UK 2015 report.

Senior drinks analyst at Mintel, Chris Wisson, said, looking at one region of the market, while many pub goers in Yorkshire and North East are not overly interested in higher quality pub grub, it is this side of industry which is propping up market growth.

“Since 2010 alone, pub catering sales have risen by 21% to reach an estimated £7.3 billion in 2014. In comparison, sales of alcoholic drinks have risen by just 5%, to reach an estimated £11.2 billion in 2014,” Mr Wisson said.

Mintel’s research shows that the rejuvenation of pub grub is such that over a third (38%) of pub goers now expect pubs to have a high quality food menu, while 54% say they could be encouraged to visit pubs or bars more often in the coming year if they had more appealing food.