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Flavors on the Rise

Flavors on the Rise


Instead of relying solely on daquiris, mai tais and other sweet frozen drinks to convey the tropical vibe, operators are serving up flavors reminiscent of warm regions that impart a hint of sweetness.

Flavors on the Rise


Brands are still adjusting their menu mixes to accommodate consumers’ wide and ever-changing definition of “healthy” foods. Now, as diners are seemingly taking a more holistic approach to healthful eating, with a greater understanding of the nutritional benefits of foods, they are more conscious of what’s in their food, so operators are in turn exploring more dishes made with fresh, natural and health-forward ingredients.

Sauces have long been a way for operators to test out new flavors as well as bring a new twist to classic dishes. Now, operators are turning to upscale ingredients to create signature sauces that not only amp up flavor, but also the value proposition.

Kale has been in the spotlight as a better-for-you green for some time. But as more consumers move veggies to the center of the plate, shifting the balance away from meat-heavy meals, they are looking for variety and exploring less well-known options.

Operators continue mining the globe for fresh flavors to satisfy more adventurous palates. Consumers are showing more interest in Indian cuisine, while Israeli and Southeast Asian flavors are just starting to make waves, according to Technomic’s Ethnic Food & Beverage Report.

Beverages—both alcoholic and nonalcoholic—are one way operators can increase check averages. To do so, many are introducing unique, flavor-forward options, often with an artisanal twist, that are proving to be competition for classic (often lower-priced) beverages such as soda.

Operators are looking beyond brown rice and quinoa when it comes to grains with a health halo. Mexican chain Dos Toros, for example, serves up farro as the base of its burrito bowls. Sorghum is also making waves on menus, not just as a grain that pops similar to popcorn, but as a sweetening addition to sauces.

Bold flavors are taking hold on beverage menus, as operators go after the popularity of hot and spicy ingredients previously seen on the food side. Warm and cold drinks alike are getting a shot of heat.

Plant-based food continues to gain mainstream acceptance, especially as more nonvegetarian and nonvegan diners consume dishes tailored to those dietary preferences. One big reason: A majority of consumers (67%) consider plant-based foods and beverages to be healthy, according to Technomic’s Healthy Eating Report. In response, more operators are experimenting with grains, fruits and veggies packed with protein.

As consumers seek more fresh, global offerings, Japanese dishes can fit the bill—62% of consumers who eat ethnic items say they have tried Japanese food and liked it, while 7% say they have not tried the cuisine but would like to, according to Technomic’s Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report.

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