In the month when “forecasts” and “outlooks” for the New Year dominate trade media headlines, the Hartman Group recently assessed the past year, uncovering some original insights in its Contemporary Food Trends survey.

Of course, there were the tried and true food trends like local sourcing and quality ingredients, which remained top interests for consumers.

More interesting, though, is the group’s observation that the full-service trend of seasonal menu items is trickling down to quick-service. For example, the report states, family-dining concept Mimi’s Café has developed 10 menu items using seasonal ingredients.

In addition to seasonal offerings, quick-serves have begun to dabble in more indulgent menu innovations. The Hartman Group considers healthy offerings as industry “afterthoughts” while items focused on abundance like the Wendy’s Baconator or Hardee’s Thickburger are “here & now.”

“We find waning consumer interest in so called ‘better for you’ offerings of years past and an expanding groundswell of consumer interest in the more indulgent side of quick-serve offerings,” the report states.

Consumer interest in ethnic flavors, on the other hand, shows no sign of slowing. Hartman predicts Thai, Korean, and Spanish flavors are the most popular. “Fringe” tastes that might find their footing on menus down the road include Neapolitan and Indian.

To download the full report, visit The Hartman Group’s Web site.

–Blair Chancey