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Consumer Trends

How to update the kids’ menu with current foodservice trends

Interesting and customizable options help draw diners and their families in
Photograph: Shutterstock

As consumers start families, they look for restaurants that offer appealing menu items not just for themselves but also for their kids. 47% of millennials and 40% of Gen X live with children 17-years-old or younger, according to Technomic’s 2018 Generational report, so stands to reason that some of the biggest traffic drivers for millennials to visit restaurants include kid-friendliness and a healthy, varied kids menu. How can restaurants appeal to both of these groups of diners? Here’s a few ideas for inspiration.

Incorporate global elements

Technomic’s Generational report found that 65% of millennials enjoy trying different foods and 44% would like restaurants to offer more ethnic foods and beverages. While parents are enjoying such new and exciting options, they might be looking for the same variety for their kids. However, many kids are picky eaters or might not want to try something that’s completely unfamiliar to them. So, how can restaurants balance the desire for unique flavors with the need to satisfy kids’ choosier diets? Condiments and sauces are a great option. For instance, curry ketchup or chimichurri offered on familiar kid-friendly faves such as hot dogs and hamburgers can help develop more adventurous palates while still ensuring kids are on board.

Offer unique toppings and customizable options

When dining out at a limited-service restaurant, 77% of consumers say that the ability to customize their meal is somewhat or very important. At full-service restaurants, according to Technomic’s January2019 Global Consumer KPI Stats report, 83% say that having a wide variety of options to choose from is important. As many parents know, getting kids to eat can involve a lot of compromise, and that’s where customization can come in. For instance, getting kids to eat soup or salad might be easier if they have the option to choose the types of garnishes or toppings they get to add.

Choosing a side can also be easier if there are a few different options to pick from. For instance, offer macaroni and cheese with options of mix-ins such as cut-up hot dogs, bacon, veggies or extra cheeses. Familiar family staples such as Goldfish® crackers, carrot sticks, fries, apple slices are surefire wins to complement a trendy entrée.

Call out healthy, real ingredients

Over the past few years, consumers’ definition of health has shifted. Instead of looking for foods that are low-calorie or low-fat, diners are looking for other things, such as whether ingredients are natural and real, how much added sugar and salt are in a menu item and more.

When asked what they look for on menus when they want to order healthy items, 57% of consumers said they look for natural ingredients, 38% said they look for items labeled healthy, and 31% look for organic ingredients, according to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating report. As consumers as a whole are eating healthier foods, it only makes sense they’d want the same for their kids. Keep up with this trend by offering menu items made with ingredients such as real cheese, whole grains and natural flavorings, and be sure to call that out on your menu by noting when items are free from artificial sweeteners, colors and flavorings.

Keeping up with modern foodservice trends on the kids’ menu is easier than it sounds. Start by offering globally inspired options in familiar ways, allowing for customization to give kids a bit of agency in their meals and making sure quality ingredients are highlighted so parents know and feel good about what their kids are eating.

This post is sponsored by Campbell's Foodservice