Although we’re in the heart (or should I say heat) of summer, menu development plans for winter are in motion.
Traditional colder-month ingredients—such as cinnamon, mint, cranberry and kale—will continue to be a favorite, with over half of consumers (56%) ordering more foods that feature traditional, familiar flavors than they were a year ago, according to Technomic.
But operators who want to stay relevant need to find ways to offer these awaited winter wonders in new ways to stay on trend, whether with unique flavor pairings, featured in different mealparts or used in nontraditional manners.
Having inundated lunch and dinner menus, kale is slated to make moves into the breakfast daypart. And applications abound, from kale egg scrambles to kale-topped breakfast sandwiches. Since about half of consumers say that health is an important attribute when choosing a breakfast item to purchase at a restaurant or other foodservice operation during the week (47%) and on the weekend (45%), operators should tout kale’s better-for-you qualities, especially as a marketing ploy around the new year.
Cranberries are poised for growth beyond their standard sauce applications around the holidays. Two in five consumers (and 45% of 18- to 34-year-olds) want more restaurants to offer foods with a combination of flavors, and blends featuring sweet flavors are the most appealing. Because bitter flavors are gradually becoming more appealing to consumers, operators can use cranberry side dishes as a complement to spicy, bitter greens. Operators should further boost consumer interest in these offerings by touting the health benefits of all ingredients involved. The color combo doesn’t hurt with the holiday appeal, either.
Sweet-heat flavors have trended over the past year, with mentions in both foods and beverages. This winter, operators should couple cinnamon, a winter favorite, with chili pepper to satisfy the 45% of consumers who say sweet and spicy flavor pairings are appealing. Creative applications include a cinnamon-chili rim for cocktails, a rub for roasts or the combo in a chocolate dessert.
Considered a hot-button issue for the past few years, transparency demands from consumers are now affecting restaurants’ approach to listing ingredients more than ever, and mint is next up to get the transparency treatment. It’s no longer enough for operators to simply state “mint” on menus; operators must now specify the mint types (e.g., peppermint, spearmint, etc.) to appease consumer demands. But those same operators will be rewarded by the 43% of consumers who say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that is transparent about what is in their menu items.