Restaurant of the Future: What’s on the Menu

The Situation

More than 70 percent of adults say they are trying to eat more healthfully now at restaurants.1

The Solution

With reported allergies and food intolerances on the rise and with pending regulations requiring nutritional labeling, more restaurants are responding with menu options that serve consumers’ special dietary needs and incorporate lower-calorie items.

Real-World Answers

To address changing consumer demands, Dow provides restaurants and food manufacturers with easy-to-use, plant-based food ingredients that offer a combination of functional benefits for gluten-free foods, egg-free foods, fat replacement, oil uptake reduction, and vegetarian or vegan products.

In the restaurant of the future, consumers might encounter such futuristic technology as smart tables that take orders, robotic kitchen appliances that are programmed to mimic the recipes of chefs, and mobile apps that will allow you to monitor the progress of your food. Yet one thing likely won’t change: What’s on the menu will continue to drive the dining experience.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2017 industry outlook, today’s diners are more knowledgeable about food and have come to expect menu options that fit their dietary preferences, no matter when or where they visit restaurants. Adding to this, consumers are responding to restaurants that are taking steps to operate more sustainably across the value chain, from ingredient sourcing to reducing food waste.

To help restaurants accommodate dietary trends, Dow is developing innovative food technologies that help consumers live healthier and more convenient lives. For example:

  • More people are adopting a vegetarian and vegan diet due to health, animal welfare and sustainability concerns. Derived from plants and completely free of any animal-sourced content, our METHOCEL™ plant-based product family can mimic the structural functionality of meat and eggs. This allows food manufacturers to create foods such as vegetable-based patties that are free from meat and eggs but don’t compromise on taste, look or feel.
  • Many health-conscious diners are looking for convenient and healthier food with reduced calorie content. Plus, as the number of people suffering from diabetes and obesity continues to rise, there is an increased government regulatory and market focus on the amount of high-fat and high-calorie foods in the diet. Technologies like WELLENCE™ Smart Fry Stabilizer reduces oil uptake during frying foods such as french fries or battered chicken or fish. A fat and calorie reduction of 30 to 50 percent can be achieved, with minimal impact on the texture or sensory profile when compared to traditional frying methods. This offers the opportunity for “reduced fat” labeling on menus, if final preparation aligns with government-mandated requirements.
  • Global demand for gluten-free foods and beverages is projected to increase by 14 percent by 2020 on a compounded annual basis.2 Dow offers a range of gluten-replacement solutions that make gluten-free bread, cakes and other baked goods look, feel and taste like the foods they are replacing. This makes it easier for restaurants to make gluten-free foods that people want to eat.

In addition to offering solutions to address global health challenges, Dow is helping support sustainability across the food value chain. Our portfolio of cellulosics and their derivatives are produced from sustainably sourced, bio-based and renewable raw materials, which can help support restaurants and food manufacturers with their own sustainable sourcing programs. In addition, Dow helps the industry address food waste by providing ingredients that improve stability and shelf life. Food waste not only leads to wasted resources; it also needlessly produces greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming.

1 National Restaurant Association, “On the Menu: Restaurant Nutrition Initiatives,” 2013 Report
2 Research and Markets, “Global Gluten Free Foods & Beverages Market Segmented by Type and Geography” (2015-2020)