Warmer weather signals a spike in consumer demand for lighter fare, pushing salad season into high gear. So what are consumers looking for on salad menus, and what combinations of ingredients and flavors will get them in the door? Technomic’s research and analysis reveals the top salad trends impacting menus now.
1. Digging deeper into the vegetable bin
Although traditional salad ingredients such as lettuce and tomatoes still dominate quick-service salads, operators are expanding the vegetable repertory, adding bolder flavors and more unique varieties that attract customers looking for a unique or adventurous twist. Caramelized onions are the fastest-growing vegetable in limited-service salads, increasing 75% year over year, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor. Next up are poblanos, with 44% growth, followed by shallots at 37.5%.
2. Fruits crop up more often
Quick-service operators are adding more tropical fruit varieties to the salad bowl. While Granny Smith apples are the fastest-growing fruit in salads (up 40% year over year), berries and pineapple are not far behind, at 18.2% each. Mangos and pomegranates also showed double-digit growth at 14.3% and 10.5%, respectively.
3. Global flavors on the rise
Sixty-five percent of consumers say that dressing is important for adding flavor to salads, according to Technomic. Dijon dressing is today’s fastest-growing selection at quick-service concepts, increasing more than 83% year over year. Other flavors experiencing growth spurts are ginger (47%), sherry (25%) and sesame (23%). Two of these dressings have an Asian flavor profile, reflecting the continuing popularity of this cuisine.