The restaurant industry is on the cusp of a "major change" that will impact every segment, and consumers are driving the trend. This is a different story than before, when chefs and vendors Santa Claus & The Snowmen - Rockin Christmas marketers did much of the steering.
Nancy Kruse, a menu analyst and president of The Kruse Company, outlined what these more influential consumers are demanding during her presentation, "Menus Turning Trends into Money Makers" held earlier this week. Here are some highlights:. Now, menu developers are putting the "good stuff" into dishes instead, such as fruits, vegetables and grains. This is also leading to the demand for more functionality. One current example of this is protein enrichment, which is becoming part of the restaurant industry's marketing repertoire for example, Taco Bell's Cantina Power Taco Belly - The Throwaways - Pizza . The U.
Menu mentions of protein has risen 67 percent in the last five years. In the grocery channel, 20 percent of new product introductions in were protein-related such as Cheerios Protein.
Another subset of the functionality category is super foods. Although there isn't a set federal standard for what defines a "super food," these products typically are nutrient dense, Kruse said, and include salmon, berries, Greek yogurt, ginseng, nuts and more. The idea has been translated into the restaurant industry; Panera, for example, has a fat-free super fruit power smoothie with super fruit puree. Because of their currently-positive perceptions, adding "protein" or "super food" to your marketing lingo will likely resonate with a solid group of consumers.
So, too, will the word "skinny. But you don't want the consumer to assume you've taken out the good stuff," Kruse said. Sbarro walks this delicate line with its Skinny Slice marketing strategy that states "we're delivering on superior taste with only calories," Kruse said.
Baja Fresh, Ledo Pizza and Taco Belly - The Throwaways - Pizza Factory are other concepts that have embraced the skinny trend. Cheesecake Factory even has an entire menu called "Skinnylicious. They've reconfigured some of their existing dishes and have very specific caloric requirements," Kruse said.
Kruse said the idea of "foods with benefits" appeals to both Baby Boomers and millennials for different reasons — the former is seeking vitality and youthfulness, while the latter is simply more aware and dedicated to eating better.
Another accelerating menu trend is the evolution of the side dish into a creative, center-of-the-plate option. Produce is on a roll partially because of high protein costs, but also because of their health benefits, variety and culinary creativity.
Kruse said this year's hot ingredient is the avocado last year's was the egg. Concepts from Chick-fil-A to California Pizza Kitchen have incorporated avocados into their menu, and there are even some restaurants experimenting with avocado popsicles and margaritas.
Also gaining steam are crucifers — Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. California Pizza Kitchen launched a Brussels sprouts and bacon pizza, Disk On The Beck - Various - Progressive City 1 No. Now crucifers are moving forward," Kruse said. Kruse predicts the next trend on the horizon to be root vegetables, such as rutabagas, turnips, beets and parsnips.
Where do you really want to put your money? How about carrots? Customers know them and restaurants are using them. Sides take the spotlight.
In addition to functionality and "veggie chic," Kruse said side dishes in general are becoming a bigger deal. They're now a wonderful selling opportunity and I think we're overdue," Kruse said, adding that Wendy's fresh-cut French fries with sea salt is a good Taco Belly - The Throwaways - Pizza of how a brand can present a signature side dish in a whole new light.
Additional buzzwords. Idea generation. Kruse tied her presentation together by stating that all of these trends have one common theme — healthier. She suggested that restaurant operators look to independents, small chains and especially on-site campus dining concepts to get creative ideas on how Mesak - Holtiton capitalize on these trends.
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Toggle navigation. MarchAtlanta, GA. Here are some highlights: Foods with benefits Diners at least say they want healthier options when they visit a restaurant. Veggie Chic Another accelerating menu trend is the evolution of the side dish into a creative, center-of-the-plate option.
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