National Restaurant Association Show 2016 Trend Report

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  • July 07, 2016

When you bring together a vast group of restaurant, hospitality and foodservice people, you will undoubtedly see a passion for the industry and the opportunity to learn something. This experience took place recently at the 2016 National Restaurant and BAR (Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants) show held at McCormick Place in Chicago.

nra bar show trends report


The NRA Show increased in size from last year without question from an exhibitor and registrant perspective. There were more than 67.000 registrants from around the world in attendance. While this show is not designed for consumers to attend, the outcome of what is learned and shared at this show plays a role in what we encounter when visiting restaurants and utilizing food service locations. In appreciation for the coffee brands that offered energy to attendees as they walked this massive show, thanks to LavAzza for this beauty. 

NRA show trends report 2016

The take away is always the trends that are showcased throughout the show. Talking foods, spirits, restaurant equipment, training, health, marketing, resources and technology means you are exposed to the key subjects on many restaurants’ and even consumers’ minds. And even a little fun with entertaining pieces like this enormous three chocolate fondue pot:

NRA show trends report 2016

And this edible drinkware:

NRA show trends report 2016

Seminars sponsored by the NRA and brands focused on such areas as how consumers are choosing where to dine, how often, food options, pricing and the desire for healthy options. A session sponsored by Vitamix on how millennials approach dining, food, cooking and health was a fascinating lesson for all.

National Restaurant Association show 2016 trend

There is no doubt that restaurants are hearing consumers requests loud and clear regarding cleaner foods whether that means Organic, Non-GMO, no additives or gluten-free. Products are being launched and restaurants are listening and exploring, and in some cases, implementing new procedures in their restaurants.

National Restaurant Association show 2016 trend

This year’s NRA Show offered an exploration via Bellavita for a food tour through Italy. Bellavita is the largest Made-in-Italy food and wine expo outside of Italy. At the show, this exclusive Italian pavilion showcased the best quality products solely from Italian producers. Bellavita Expo also takes place in London and Amsterdam.

National Restaurant Association show 2016 trend

As you explore the show, you begin to notice that you are seeing products broadly marketing themselves like this:

CoconutNational Restaurant Association show 2016 trend


Protein (non-animal products)

National Restaurant Association show 2016 trend



With vitamins and minerals detailed






National Restaurant Association show 2016 trend

Many different products utilized tea in some capacity. Some alcoholic and some not. All delicious. 

NRA show trends report 2016

Interesting additions to chips from beans to crickets. Yes, crickets. 

NRA show trends report 2016

Beans: Lentils, Chickpeas, White Beans

NRA show trends report 2016

From the BAR Show, we saw the continuation of creating drinks that were highlighted as showing without certain ingredients and including healthier options like the previously mentioned tea, fruit, etc. 

National Restaurant Association show 2016 trend

Mixology competitions ran throughout the BAR show entertaining attendees from a bar and cooking perspective. 

NRA show trends report 2016

Craft Pineapple Cider:

NRA show trends report 2016

This year’s tabletop brought back some designs from year’s past. Coupe glasses for champagne, “new country” dinnerware with wider rims for more surface area and multi-toned flatware.  Luigi Bormioli was showing not only how beautiful their glassware was but also how durable with this experiment. Break enough wine glasses and this test became even more intriguing.  

nra tabletop picm

High quality brands like Microplane with their new design of wood handled rasps work with restaurants as well homeowners. Watch for this design to show in your local kitchen stores. 


Ending this trend summary with these adorable red bean piggy buns from Seawaves. This year’s show was filled with fabulous finds, new designs, fascinating research on how consumers are dining, healthy choices in food options, learning about Italian brands through the Bellavita Expo and seminars on understanding olive oils, knife skills and balsamic vinegars. Looking forward to next year’s NRA and BAR Show with great anticipation! 

NRA show trends report 2016


  • I would have been in heaven there. This looks like a great expo to attend, I would have spent all day there. I love all the healthy food options available.

  • Pam says:

    I would love to try that craft pineapple cider. My son has had foods made with cricket flour before. I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to try them.

  • Sarah says:

    What an interesting show to attend. I have never heard of the national restaurant associate show. I find it interesting what trends there are this year, there are some great food options here. Some I may be checking out for myself soon!

  • Liz Mays says:

    They showcased some awesome products. It must have been nice discovering some new brands. I’d be interested in some of those natural snacks.

  • Jeanine says:

    What a neat looking show to attend! I think it would be nice to see and hear about all different brands. I think this is one show i’d be interested in attending! Very cool

  • Vicky says:

    This looks like the show to attend. i would have loved trying all sorts of new food. I think the lentil snacks would have been my favorite.

  • It is good to know that the restaurant industry is at least listening to consumers’ wants. All those tasty new ideas that they had out there looked great!

  • lisa says:

    Looks like you had an amazing time. I”m glad to know that the industry is listening to what we want and making changes

  • Courtneylynne says:

    Ahhhhh now this is my kind of trade show!!!! The foodie inside of me would of loved to wander this show!!! Must of been a yummy time 😉

  • Christine T says:

    I am so jealous you got to go to this! It looks so amazing! I have always wanted to attend something like this and never seem to make it. Hopefully next year. Is it always in Chicago?

    • Inspiring Kitchen says:

      For the time being it is in Chicago. I believe a contract was signed to keep the show here for a specific timeframe. Thanks, Christine!

  • Kendall says:

    This looks like such an amazing event! I would love to go to something like this, I think it’d be so fun! Exploring new foods and such is a great activity!

  • Anosa says:

    What an amazing experience, not sure I would have been able to leave with all this good food out there

  • Emily says:

    What a great show. i would love to try some of that.

  • Bella says:

    What a neat event, you must have had a blast! I have actually had those chirp chips ad they are yummy!

  • That looks like a great show to go to! I love how you can see all the fun new trends that will be coming out.

  • Angie says:

    Okay this looks like so much fun, I want to go around and try these things… I have to say though, I NEEEEEEED that pineapple cider in my life. NEED.

  • Garf says:

    I love coconut water. I buy big boxes of it everytime I go grocery shopping at the Asian store.

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