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3 ways to pump up menus, sales with seasonal ingredients

Get inspired by these flavors for fall
Photograph: Shutterstock

Lemonade and watermelon are perfect summer flavors, but when fall rolls around, most diners look for comforting, fall-inspired foods. Adding seasonal ingredients to menus is easy, especially when used in salads where multiple ingredients are the name of the game—options such as goat cheese, cranberries or pecans pair perfectly against spicy greens such as arugula.

According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor the top flavors and ingredients featured in fall salads are apple, cranberry, onions, tomatoes and goat cheese, and others, such as beets (up 100% year-over-year on fall salad menus), carrot (+46%),  feta (+42%), pumpkin (+30%) and maple (+22%) are being increasingly showcased.

And it’s for good reason. Sixty-four percent of consumers—including 72% of younger consumers—say they are more likely to purchase salads with seasonal claims, according to Technomic’s 2018 Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad report.

Seasonal food tastes better

With recent pushes towards sustainable farming and eating local and in-season food, more diners have become accustomed to seasonal produce, with 65% of consumers saying that they associate seasonal ingredients with improved taste, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report. Menuing dishes that include these ingredients, such as salads with fall ingredients, can be a great way to entice diners to try something new or on special.

Creating buzz with limited-time offerings

Consumers are likely to gravitate toward special offerings, especially ones that contain ingredients that are trending or in-season. For instance, a charred corn and tomato salad is perfect for summertime and tastes great with Ken’s Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing, while a shaved cauliflower salad with toasted pecans and dried cranberries is great for fall and pairs well with Ken’s Apple Cider Vinaigrette. Nearly half of younger consumers say that their flavor preferences vary by season, so harness that interest and make sure to call out seasonal freshness on the menu and in other signage in the restaurant.

Offering healthy foods without sacrificing flavor

Diners who are choosing salads because they want to eat healthier are abundant. In fact, 43% of consumers say they order a salad during most of their restaurant visits, according to Technomic’s 2018 Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad report. But salads should be flavorful and delicious, not just healthy—to bump up the appeal of salads, using seasonal ingredients is ideal. Try offering a fall harvest salad with Ken’s Lemon Vinaigrette, for example. With baby kale, romaine, butternut squash, roasted apples, cucumbers, pomegranate arils and pumpkin seeds, diners get all the flavor of a chef salad without all the added fats that popular salad ingredients such as bacon or shredded cheese add. For another option, serve a roasted pear and spinach salad topped with grilled chicken, red onion and dried cranberries. Finished with Ken’s Blueberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette, this sweet-and-savory salad hits all the notes that diners are looking for.

Offering salad with seasonal ingredients isn’t just a tasty way to offer up food—it’s also a great way to capitalize on consumer preferences—nearly a third of the overall population says they are more inclined to purchase, and are willing to pay more for salads described as seasonal. Ken’s is proud to offer a range of delicious dressings perfect for adding fall flavor to the menu, including:

  • Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette
  • Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Blueberry & Pomegranate Vinaigrette
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Lime Vinaigrette Dressing and Marinade
  • Apple Cider Vinaigrette

For operators who want to boost sales of salads during the cooler months, adding trending flavors and ingredients is a surefire way to do so.

This post is sponsored by Ken's Foods Inc.

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