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Consumer Trends

Salads speak fresh year-round

Fresh, healthy items are a big draw for fast-casuals and QSRs, say reports from a variety of industry groups, and nothing speaks fresh and healthier better than salad, especially if it’s topped with seasonal vegetables. In fact, according to Technomic's Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report, restaurant customers are ordering more salad: Over the course of two years, diners are ordering salad—at least occasionally—76% of the time, up from 66% of those surveyed in the 2009 study. "Healthy options and portion variety are driving factors in today's soup and salad menu positioning, says Technomic Director of Consumer Research, Sara Monnette. "Operators are revamping their menus in response to consumer demand for soup and salad as a standalone entree, side substitution, an appetizer or a component of a combo meal."

  • Salad, along with soup, are the two most common appetizers at both limited-service restaurants (LSRs) and full-service restaurants (FSRs)
  • Interest in healthier, lighter fare is driving increases for both salad and soup
  • Some salad concepts are highlighting ethnic flavors and ingredients, reports Technomic in its blog, Segment Performance: Fast-Casual Salad Chains. Chop’t Creative Salad Company rolled out a number of seasonal salads featuring global ingredients, including the Hong Kong Kobb, the Madrid Caesar and the Spicy Souvlaki Cobb
  • In its compilation of data from U.S. Chains and Independents in 2012, Datassential reports that salads have been a point of entry for several casual chains. Bertucci’s introduced a salad with roasted beets last February, and Fresh Choice launched two kale-based salads early this year
  • The 50-foot salad bar at Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes is a big draw for guests who come to create customized salads. But the 125-unit chain also offers four varying “recipe” salads tossed fresh every 20 minutes in exhibition kitchens at each location

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