Consumer Trends

Smoke signals flavor

Industry research has put the spotlight on smoking, calling it out as a superstar preparation technique. It’s not smoke and mirrors—as it has for thousands of years, smoking continues to be a go-to method to enhance the natural flavors of a variety of foods.

  • In the National Restaurant Association What’s Hot 2013 Chef Survey  “Smoking” was ranked as number five in the Top Preparation Methods, following “Liquid Nitrogen Chilling/Freezing” and “Sous Vide”
  • According to the Heat and Spice: Culinary Trend Mapping Report from Packaged Facts, familiar smoked foods are now common menu items, but it’s time for smoke flavor to move into new, creative applications like drinks and desserts  

But barbeque—smoking’s most popular application—isn’t going anywhere. In fact, according to the Technomic's Segment Performance: Fast-Casual Barbecue Chains, opportunity for growth is as healthy as ever:

  • Overall, barbecue continues to grow in popularity among diners—comfort foods such as pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches continue  to be consumer favorites
  • The barbecue restaurants within Technomic’s Top 150 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurants earned a collective $141 million, a 1.4 percent increase from 2010  
  • Barbecue concepts that offer a unique twist, a best-in-class menu, enough variety to satisfy many tastes or a niche positioning—plus efficient operations and strong marketing—have potential to grow regionally or even nationally


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