Consumers are eating less dessert than they used to. That’s one of the key findings from Technomic’s new 2017Dessert Consumer Trend Report, which found that consumption of post-meal treats among restaurant-goers is down 8% from 2015. Despite this decline, certain kinds of dessert are growing in appeal as consumers’ tastes evolve. Read on to uncover three such types.
1. Nostalgic favorites
More than half of consumers (54%) ages 18 to 34 prefer the desserts they ate as children. Diners in this age range are also more adventurous eaters than older patrons, and are likely to be interested in desserts with salty, savory or spicy flavors, or alcohol as an ingredient. Since classic desserts highly appeal to these adventurous guests, operators can further engage customers with unique flavor combinations like whisky ice cream floats or spicy fudgesicles. Candy as an ingredient may also draw attention.
Some chains are already capitalizing on diners’ yen for dessert nostalgia. Earlier this year, Dairy Queen brought back its Treatzza Pizzas after retiring the offerings in the ‘90s. Similarly, McDonald’s relaunched its Rolo McFlurry after a 5-year hiatus; it was available as an LTO earlier this fall.
2. Sweet snacks
Consumers are veering away from defining dessert as something enjoyed after a meal to viewing it as an anytime treat. Some 37% of consumers describe dessert as any sweet food item consumed at any time of the day, compared to 33% in 2015. This gives operators the opportunity to drive off-peak traffic with portable offerings like milkshakes, smoothies and fruit that can be positioned as standalone and snack options, the report notes.
3. Brunch treats
Nearly one-third of 18 to 34-year-olds say they would order dessert after a midmorning meal if offered, according to the Technomic report. Pennsylvania-based Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar is following that trend with the brunch menu it launched in January, featuring dessert items such as Bacon Belgian Waffle Sundaes and a chocolate chip cookie pizza topped with ice cream, chocolate sauce and a cherry.