They say too many cooks spoil the broth. That may be true in an actual kitchen but I disagree when it comes to this foodservice feature.

This annual issue reviews foodservice industry trends and examines how they impact food and beverage formulation. And here’s a case where two (or more) heads are better than one. Inside, you’ll find Technomic reviews of menu, consumer and foodservice channel trends. We also bring you observations from food processor-members of the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association and Research Chefs Association. Last but not least, an industry expert shares the latest details on menu and calorie labeling initiatives.

There also are many customer viewpoints. There’s an in-depth discussion with Phil Kafarakis, a long-time manufacturing executive who’s now the National Restaurant Association’s chief innovation and member advancement officer. This issue also features candid comments from product and menu development leaders at Captain D’s, Bloomin’ Brands, Levy Restaurants and Aramark.

You’ll notice that—compared to our normal issues—this month’s edition has different sections. There are two primary buckets: R&D Market Insights and R&D Manufacturing Insights. Here, we’re grouping those articles involving broader trend data versus those articles that more directly involve manufacturers.

Speaking of trend data, Technomic used the mid-year point to summarize developments to date. Its experts traveled to some of the nation’s noted restaurant cities and conducted first-hand research, interviews and surveys among operators, chefs and consumers. They combined their findings with qualitative data from Technomic’s Digital Resource Library and quantitative data from MenuMonitor database and Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report. They pinpointed six key trends:

Fast Casual Not Slowing Down: This segment continues to outpace all others, growing at 11%, compared to 4% among quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and 5.6% growth in casual dining.

Build-Your-Own Keeps Building: Within the fast-casual segment, concepts built around customization are growing twice as fast as those that are not.

Cult Status: QSRs that are doing well—Chick-fil-A and Culver’s, to name a few—have developed clearly defined niches, achieved cult-like followings and garner higher check averages.

Subtracting the Additives: Consumers are demanding to know the back stories on ingredient sourcing and processing; operators are responding with increased menu transparency.

Tech Becomes Necessary: Online ordering, mobile apps and table tablets fulfill two needs: appealing to Millennials’ high-tech and high-speed preferences and supplementing service in a tight labor markets.

The New Foodie Norm: Food blogs, foodie media and foodservice everywhere mean everyone’s a culinary expert; dining needs to be an Instagram-worthy experience.