Black cherry is the new breakout star on menus, dethroning Sriracha as the fastest-growing flavor in the last year. Technomic’s MenuMonitor also shows that an additional fruit, a vegetable and a floral join black cherry in demonstrating enough explosive growth to surpass the popular Thai chili sauce. Here's a look at the four fastest-growing flavors, how they’re menued and where further potential lies.
1. Dark cherry, +45.8%
Dark cherry is the fastest-growing flavor on menus over the last year. Dark sweet cherries can be cooked or eaten raw, but are most prominently called out on menus as a flavor note in red wines, particularly merlots and pinot noirs. Opportunities for dark cherry as an ingredient include in vinaigrettes, carbonated drinks, breakfast dishes or as a pairing for meat, like Pan Crisped Pork Belly with dark cherry at Fleming’s.
2. Prickly pear, +30.4%
Also known as the cactus pear, prickly pear is a melonlike fruit with a sweet but somewhat bland flavor. Because it’s popular in Latin cooking, it’s no surprise that Blaze Pizza recently added a twist on a popular Latin beverage with its Prickly Pear Agua Fresca. Although prickly pear has opportunities in food (namely in sorbets or infused in a dressing or sauce), operators are increasingly spotlighting the fruit in cocktails, particularly margaritas.
3. Bitter greens, +27.3%
Bitter greens like kale, dandelion, collard, broccoli rabe and chard have a lot to offer operators as an ingredient—they’re versatile, flavorful and inexpensive. The benefit to the consumer of using the term “bitter greens” on menus is that it connotes health benefits. Though bitter greens are typically featured as a side to entrees like the new Grilled Portobello with bitter greens at Max’s Wine Dive, there are also growing mentions of the vegetable atop sandwiches as a flavor contrast.
Rounding out the list of fastest-growing menu flavors is hibiscus. Like prickly pear, hibiscus mentions lean prominently toward the beverage side of the menu, such as Bahama Breeze’s new High Tide Swizzle with hibiscus. But unlike prickly pear, adult beverages play second fiddle to the nonalcoholic side, where globally influenced hibiscus teas abound. Dessert is another potential avenue for growth of hibiscus, particularly in a candied prep.