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Speed-scratch trend spills over into beverages

frozen beverages

Decadent milkshakes crowned by a bevy of eye-catching sweet bling are an Instagram sensation, but at the same time, healthy and craveable smoothies are a fave of the fitness-forward crowd. Today, operators must cater to all types of beverage consumers—which can get complicated quickly.

By focusing on speed-scratch beverages, where operators are working with pre-made bases to quickly and easily create signature offerings, restaurants can appeal to a variety of customers without blowing food and labor budgets.

Having it their way

Specialty beverages are a growing area of opportunity for operators, as over-the-top milkshakes, frappes and smoothies are all grabbing likes on social media. A full 60% of consumers have ordered a milkshake from a foodservice location in the past month, while 51% have purchased another type of frozen beverage, according to Technomic’s 2016 Beverage report. What’s more, demand for cool quaffs continues to grow: 30% of consumers say they are purchasing frozen beverages more now than they were two years ago, the report found.

But customers these days demand more variety than just vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. They want exciting and unique flavors, and they want quality offerings, too. They’re especially thirsty for drinks customized to their specifications—and are willing to spend to get it. Allowing consumers to tailor beverages with flavors and toppings can help encourage purchases, according to Technomic’s 2016 Beverage report.

For operators, though, customization has a price. Investing in a battery of high-powered blenders and a rack of blender pitchers is just one expense operators have faced trying to fulfill demands for diverse milkshake and frozen drink flavors. Plus, blending a frozen drink to creamy perfection requires skill and judgment, which can impact labor costs. But taking a speed-scratch approach, by creating signature drinks with a prepared base and adding customized flavorings, mix-ins and toppings, can help operators fill this gap. 

Speed scratch = real help

When it comes to speed scratch, that’s where f’real foods comes to the rescue. With a one-touch mixing machine and real ingredient bases for milkshakes, smoothies and frappes, it’s easy to create signature frozen drinks just the way customers want them, with minimal labor and waste. The behind-the-counter blender has a small footprint and requires no drain or water lines. It’s easy to operate, too: servers pick a drink flavor cup, remove the top, place the cup in the holder and push a button. The machine does the rest in just 40 seconds. Cleanup is fast and easy; just wash and sanitize the spindle.

Trick and treat

But the real advantage to the f’real system comes from its Custom-Made option. Operators can easily create a crazy, craveable frozen beverage menu that’s unique to their own operations. 

It’s easy to create variations. Start with a base flavor and go wild with sweet mix-ins: cookies, candies, kid’s breakfast cereals (Cap’n Crunch, Froot Loops, Lucky Charms), granola, coconut and of course, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Explore salty-sweet variations by blending in pretzels, potato chips, peanut butter or even bacon. Pump up smoothie goodness by blending in chunks of fresh or frozen fruits. Add acai powder and make acai bowls.  Raid the kitchen for ingredients and ideas. Riff on dessert classics. Try s’mores, red velvet cake or salted caramel crack pie shakes, for instance. Then, of course there are the alcoholic drinks—mudslides, frozen margaritas, daiquiris and pina coladas have never been faster or easier to make.

Presentation is key

To really catch customers’ eyes and boost me-too sales, focus on ingenious toppings. Innovative operators have built Instagram fame with head-turning shake presentations. Construct a tower of deliciousness with housemade cookies, lollipops, candy canes, cookie straws, cotton candy, sugar sprinkles, doughnuts, cupcakes, even a whole caramel apple perched atop a dreamy cloud of whipped cream. The options are endless, limited only by the imagination.

Creating an appealing beverage menu doesn’t have to include expanding the budget for hard-to-find ingredients or labor-intensive preparation. With single-serve drink equipment, speed-scratch preparations, a variety of optional mix-ins and a bevy of delicious toppings, customers can order the drink of their dreams, while operators can enjoy the boost in profitability.

This post is sponsored by f’real foods

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