“People are always looking for new and interesting ways to cater for their conference attendees and food has become so much more than just fuel. Recently there has been an enormous shift towards health and the impact that food can have on concentration and productivity” said Mark Cooper, CEO of The International Association of Conference Centres (IACC). IACC released its Top 10 Conference Foods Trends for 2015 that are influencing meeting planners when it comes to catering for conferences across the globe.
1. Local is Everything: The importance of adding a local feel to meetings has been identified as a major trend as attendees want to experience as much as they can about the area they are going to for their meeting or event.
2. Network your Heart Out - Small plates of food items, continuously served in a reception format add a nice break to an extended event. Another popular choice is to hold a more substantial networking friendly dining reception mid way through your event as it provides a great way for guests to meet up in a causal environment and build relationships while enjoying great food and beverage.
3. Small is the New Big! - Bite size desserts have overtaken larger portions in popularity. Conference delegates are turning their backs on the big slice of cake and head for the easy to handle signature bite size desert station. Warm house made donuts, chocolate truffles, French macaroons, mini cupcakes and house made cookies are top of the list for planners.
4. In with Flavour, Out with Fats! - Healthy choices don't need to resemble rabbit food and conference chefs work with exciting new ingredients including whole grains, protein alternative (quinoa, amaranth, tofu, beans) green vegetables (kales, spinach), low fat and low sugar foods which sound, look and taste great!
5. Making and Breaking Bread Together - Nothing brings the team together more than food and having the opportunity to cook with somebody can create a whole new appreciation for and hidden talent not seen in an office environment or company outing. Culinary teambuilding has all the ingredients to cook up a winning team!
6. Contrasting Environments - Utilising outside space to create a change in scenery and a casual dining experience will revitalize attendees, especially during multi-day meetings and events.
7. Finale NOT Gala - Make sure the last night of your event has all the components to create a dynamic environment and brings people together to celebrate the end of a great conference. Be creative and choose your room seating layout and dining style to deliver that Finale.
8. That's Theatre Darling! - Adding a chef interactive station can also highlight the menu with fresh prepared items (Panini, clubhouse or slider); remember to ask for gluten free options.
9. Go Micro for Max Effect - With the explosion in microbreweries offering brews that appeal to all tastes; ask your conference planner if they can make pre-dinner drinks a local affair!
10. Infused Tea Cocktails - The English may drink a lot of it and now the World has caught on to the latest trend, infused tea cocktails. Combine this with trend 9 and you can have a double brew at your next reception!
Cooper concludes, “People are always looking for new and interesting ways to cater for their conference attendees and food has become so much more than just fuel. Recently there has been an enormous shift towards health and the impact that food can have on concentration and productivity. The trends identified in our research take this knowledge to the next level and will help meeting planners to deliver the ultimate experience when it comes to catering for conferences across the globe.”