Forward-thinking operators know the importance of understanding foodservice trends. But the real value — the point where information and profitability intersect — is the ability to leverage the intelligence to make a difference in sales.
- Value Plus: Customers want meals that provide a good value, and 58% of people say that value is an important influence in deciding where they go and what to order.
- Evolution of Healthy Choices: More customers today are interested in holistic health, and their food and beverage purchase follow the desire for wellness.
- Flexibility and Discovery: Customers want barrier-free dining, greater control, and more flavor choices.
- Hyper Convenience: Busy lives mean plenty of on-the-go dining, and guests demand convenient meal and beverage solutions.
- Digitization: There no doubt that technology is transforming customer expectations, but it also changing operations and the end-to-end guest experience.
- Brand Authenticity: Customers want to support brands that are authentic in their values and identity.
Mouthwatering food descriptions are often used to entice customers, but how do those descriptors affect sales and customer satisfaction? For instance, when you hear, “Buttery bliss in every bite” or “our butter can be spicy, smoky, exotic, and sophisticated; you imagine it, we can make it” doesn’t that make your mouth water and dare you to dream? Foods that have rich descriptions are most likely to be selected by consumers. And as an added bonus, consumers associate descriptive food labels with high quality and are willing to pay more. As consumer preferences and value systems continue to advance and expand, it’s crucial to keep menu language relevant and enticing, making it a true ambassador for the restaurant brand.
So how can you entice you patrons with delicious words? Here’s some food for thought:
The Way We Are: Over the past few decades, consumers became more restaurant savvy, driven largely by the increased affordability of dining out as well as a greater level of confidence in the value of the restaurant experience. Slowly but surely, menus began to incorporate more information.
Filling up the Space: Consumers now want far more background and transparency on the menu. In the 2010s, the need to identify sources—particularly local—increased.
The Evolved Menu: So where are we headed? With the growth of detail and transparency, descriptions have only become longer and more involved, further pressing the space issue.
A Change in Terms: Menu descriptors come in and out of vogue to reflect what consumers want and expect from restaurants.
The ever-popular burger continues to be rethought and re-evaluated into something new, creative, and different—bringing diners back for more. For consumers looking to get out of the daily grind, there are a growing number of non-commodity ground beef and hamburger products in today’s market. These new menu items whet the appetite for the perennially popular burger, while spiking interest in up and coming flavor profiles and attributes.
FOCUS ON LTOs
Burgers of the month are a good move to shake up the menu and win new fans.
PLAY UP UNIQUE FLAVORS AND TEXTURES
Layering flavors and textures amps up the personality and craveability of a burger.
BRING ON BREAKFAST
Trending on menus across segments, breakfast flavors are a natural fit for burgers any time of day. Operators can experiment with carriers, such as a Maple Pancake Bacon Cheeseburger, which features pancakes instead of the traditional bun.
(Photography courtesy of the Restaurant Business Online.)
Young consumers raised in an era when global connectivity is the norm are seeking out bold and exotic flavors from the myriad cuisines of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
As a generation that takes snacking very seriously, millennials are finding that handheld treats provide a perfect vehicle for sampling these regional flavors and sharing them with friends and family.
SPECIFIC PEPPER FLAVORS
- The millennial snacker has a sophisticated palate and will distinguish among the flavors imbued through each of the different chili peppers, such as ancho, habanero, and serrano.
SOUTHEAST ASIAN SPICES
- These include the now ubiquitous sriracha, which can be found as a flavoring for potato chips and other snacks, as well as gochujang, the Korean hot pepper paste.
SWEET AND SAVORY MASHUPS
- Sweet treats are being infused with salty ingredients such as bacon or with spicy flavorings such as hot peppers. Think bacon donuts or jalapeño breakfast bars.
FLAVORS OF INDIA
- From naan crisps to chutney bombs, myriad Indian-style snacks and their associated seasonings are making their way into the mainstream millennial diet.
SOUR AND FERMENTED FLAVORS
- Drinking vinegar and kombucha, and eating pickled beet chips and kimchee, are among the sour and fermented flavors making their way into snack food form.
- Is this Tunisian spice blend “the next sriracha,” as some observers predict? It’s showing up in an increasing variety of applications, including as a popcorn flavoring.
- Eating with their eyes. The majority of Americans (60%) browse food photos on social media, and of those patrons, 75% have chosen a restaurant based on those photos they’ve seen.
- Carbs. Cholesterol. While the definition of better-for-you continues to shift, consumers are seeking out food low in these three attributes more than ever. Baby boomers are especially citing low-cholesterol foods as healthy more often—though they are the least likely to pay more for low-cholesterol claims.
- Boost in off-hour traffic. Brunch patronage has increased at both casual dining and upscale restaurants compared to two years ago, driven largely by younger consumers. These diners are also more likely to visit casual-dining spots for late-night meals after 10 p.m., often eating out with adult friends during these visits.
- Cool on cash-only. A cash-only policy is the No. 1 thing that would stop consumers from dining in a restaurant. Communal tables and no-substitution policies tied for second, with a third of patrons considering them deal breakers.
- Discounts could drive catering. Two-fifths of consumers say they would order catered meals more often if restaurants offered specials and other discounts. In particular, 43% of both women and consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 say discount initiatives would boost their catering order habits.
- Lunchtime slowdown. Contrary to service time guarantees like Buffalo Wild Wings’ promise of lunch in 15 minutes, the importance diners place on the speed of weekday lunch service has decreased since 2014, slipping 7%. Today’s customers may be OK with waiting longer if that means fresher, higher-quality food on the other end.
- Add the snacks. Rising snack consumption will likely reshape how consumers view midday meals, as diners are replacing lunch with snacks about two days a week. In addition, 30% of consumers say they expect restaurants to provide lunch in small snack like sizes such as mini or half portions
- Ladies Love Loyalty. More women than men currently participate in restaurant loyalty programs, and slightly more women also say that loyalty programs are very likely to influence them to visit a certain restaurant. They value exclusive offers, too, like first tastes and private events.
Written by Sima Patel–Market Insights Analysist Butterball Farms, Inc.
What will be the breakout flavors and ingredients of 2017—the ones that can help power an LTO to the top of the sales charts and assist operators shape craveable menus?
What’s healthy now?
The majority of consumers aim to balance health with indulgence, according to Technomic’s Healthy Consumer Trend Report. So menus are calling out healthful ingredients in heavier items, such as mentioning kale on burgers and apple on pizza.
Customers are more receptive to new flavors or unique pairings when they are introduced on familiar platforms, such as a burger. Taking a cue from the South, operators are pickling and frying green tomatoes as an alternative to run-of-the-mill red tomato slices. Green tomato chutneys and jams are also showing up as sweet-savory burger condiments.
The better-burger movement is fueling demand for higher-quality ingredients. As a result, operators are upscaling burger blends to include brisket in the grind. Barbecue brisket is also a trending topping, says Tristano, as more protein-on-protein burgers are emerging as alternates to bacon. “It’s a way to increase price points and enhance the quality positioning,” he says.
Diners are seeking out less sugary treats, according to Technomic’s Dessert Consumer Trend Report. Savory herbs, floral flavors and Asian ingredients are giving classic desserts a twist that mellows sweetness.
Consumers have become familiar with hibiscus on beverage menus, where it’s been trending in teas and cocktails. Now, the flower is crossing over to the dessert side. Operators source it as dried flowers or tea, then steep it in sugar syrup or another liquid to use as an ingredient in desserts—especially in combination with fruit and berries.
Written by Sima Patel–Market Insights Analysist Butterball Farms, Inc.
Here in the #ButterLab, we are all about testing new products and inventing new ways of applying the old. We have several amazing butters that we’ve wanted to test, showcasing the diversity beyond the label. Last week, we took our Bacon Pepper Jack Burger Butters™ dollops from Creekside Creamery™, and created some of the best comfort food ever… This recipe was so simple and quick, and the beauty of it is that you can adjust it yourself to make it as involved or as easy as you want!
We made our fries the “cheat way” (frozen potatoes, pre-cooked bacon, and shredded cheese), but you can use fresh everything, making it even more delicious. After all, a recipe is just a guideline, right? Feel free to use your imagination on this one: think baked potatoes, potato wedges, and even sweet potatoes.
(PS… these fries were a total hit in the office, but just a warning, you’ll certainly want something cool to drink with it. The general consensus was, “Oh, these would be so good with an ice cold bottle of [insert your favorite beer here],” which reminds us to pull out this recipe again for the Super Bowl!)
Super Loaded Bacon Pepper Jack Fries
- One bag of frozen french fries (we would recommend a 28 to 32 ounce bag)
Cook according to directions.
Remove from oven and top with:
- 3 dollops Creekside Creamery™ Bacon Pepper Jack Butter (melted and distribute evenly)
- 1 pound Applewood bacon bits
- 2 cups pepper jack cheese
- chopped green onion
Place back in oven until cheese is melted, approximately 3 minutes.
Serve with side of sour cream. Enjoy!
Have we got a Peach Pie for you! Churn84™ Unsalted Butter makes the best Peach Pie you’ll ever taste. From the flaky, buttery crust, to Summer’s bounty of ripe peaches baked to juicy perfection, this Peach Pie is a party for the palate.
Because of the high butter fat content in European-style Churn84™ (84% compared to 80% in most North American butters), the dough holds together for easy rolling. In addition, it offers the attributes of superior flavor and a flakier crust.
Give this recipe a try! You’ll be delighted with the results.
Peach Pie (Serves 10)
- 2-1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1-1/4 Cups Unsalted Churn84™ Butter, cubed
- 1/3 Cup Ice Water
Directions for Crust:
- Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until blended.
- Add cubed butter, pulse until butter is the size of peas.
- While processing, add just enough ice water to form moist crumbs.
- Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a disk; wrap in plastic.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- 4 Cups Peaches, peeled and sliced (7 – 8 medium peaches)
- ½ cup Sugar
- ¼ Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
Directions for Filling:
- In large bowl, mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon.
- Stir in peaches and lemon juice.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
Directions to Complete Pie for Baking:
- On a lightly floured surface, roll half of dough to 1-1/8” thick circle; transfer to a deep dish 9” pie plate. Trim pastry to edge of plate.
- Add filling. Dot filling with slices of remaining butter.
- Roll remaining dough to a 1-1/8” thick circle.
- Place dough over filling (or create lattice top or other design).
- Trim and seal the edges; flute if desired.
- For simple top crust, cut 3 slits to vent.
- Cover edge of crust with pie shield or foil strips.
- Bake on lowest rack in oven for 45 – 50 minutes, or until pie crust is golden brown and juice is thick and bubbly.
- Cool on wire rack.
When you work for the best butter company in America, what do you do on a Friday afternoon during late Summer? Why, experiment with compound butter in the #butterlab, of course!
Our goal: to create a delicious dish with our Creekside Creamery™ Lemon Dill Chef’s Roll that is simple to prepare and tantalizes the taste buds. We think we’ve found it with our Lemon Dill Tuna Melt. What could be a better than English Muffin Bread, covered with Lemon Dill compound butter and toasted crisp, topped with tuna salad and placed under the broiler, then finished with a slice of Swiss Cheese and a slice of fresh tomato from the garden? The mild, warm flavor of dill pairs perfectly with the fresh, clean taste of lemon, complementing the tuna salad for a light, open-faced sandwich that’s easy to make and delicious.
Lemon Dill Tuna Melt (Serves Four)
- 12 oz. can Chunk White Albacore Tuna (in Water)
- 1/2 Onion, Finely Chopped
- Stalk Celery, Chopped
- Fresh Dill, Cut to Taste
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/8 Teaspoon Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise (more, if you like it creamier)
- 4 Pieces of English Muffin Bread
- 2 Tablespoons Creekside Creamery™ Lemon Dill Butter, Softened
- 4 Slices Swiss or Baby Swiss Cheese
- 4 Thinly Sliced Fresh Tomatoes
- Tuna Salad
- Set oven to Broil.
- Prepare Tuna Salad (above), or use any tuna salad recipe that you think will work.
- Butter both sides of each piece of English Muffin Bread with Creekside Creamery™ Lemon Dill Butter, and griddle to golden brown on each side.
- Top each piece of bread with tuna salad. Cover bread with salad evenly.
- Broil 3 – 4 minutes, until tuna looks crispy.
- Top with slices of Swiss Cheese. Broil 1 – 2 minutes.
- Top with slices of Tomato. Broil 1 minute. Serve!