Local ingredients, smaller desserts, and infused tea-cocktails are a few conference food trends to look out for this year, according to the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC). This year's food trends are all part of an "enormous shift towards health and the impact that food can have on concentration and productivity," says IACC CEO Mark Cooper. Here are the top ten food conference trends of 2015:
10. Infused Tea Cocktails. "The English are known for their love of it, and increasingly its health benefits are being embraced globally, but drinking tea has never been more fun than with the current trend of tea-infused cocktails."
9. Microbrews. "With the explosive popularity of microbreweries offering brews that appeal to all tastes...conference planners are increasingly looking to chefs and sommeliers to provide pre-dinner receptions and specialty dining with microbrews on the menu."
8. Interactive Chefs. "Adding a chef interactive station accompanied with a highly personable chef can highlight the menu, underscore locally-sourced and freshly-prepared ingredients, as well as invite guest interaction."
7. Finales. "Gone are the days when meetings ended with an unimaginative formal gala. Today, meeting planner professionals want finales that create a dynamic and stimulating experience for their conferees, which bring people together to celebrate and bond at the end of their conference."
6. Contrasting Environments. "Using outside spaces to create a change in scenery and provide a casual dining experience can breath new life into conference attendees, especially during multi-day meetings and events."
5. Culinary Teambuilding. "Having the opportunity to cook alongside colleagues can create a whole new appreciation for the hidden talents within an office environment or at a company outing."
4. Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Food. "Healthy choices don't need to resemble rabbit food...IACC member chefs are working with exciting new ingredients increasingly popular with conferees -- including protein alternatives (quinoa, amaranth, tofu, beans), whole grains, leafy green vegetables (especially kale and spinach), low-fat selections, and low-sugar substitutions."
3. Small Desserts. "Bite-size desserts have overtaken larger portions in popularity -- if for no other reason than conferees are watching their waistlines and cholesterol levels."
2. Networking-Friendly Food. "Small plates of food items, continuously served in a reception format, add a welcome diversion to an extended meeting event and help maintain energy levels."
1. Local Ingredients. "Attendees want to experience as much as they can about the destination they are going to for their meeting or event -- and this includes locally-sourced ingredients for food and beverage consumed during their conference."
Head here for a longer explanation of the above trends.