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Food

4 ways to boost holiday catering sales with soup

Photograph: Shutterstock

Big catering and takeout orders for parties and holiday get-togethers translates into big business around the holidays for restaurants. Some restaurants have a tried-and-true menu to meet the needs of these diners, but others are innovating and offering choices that are outside the box to drive differentiation.

For example, one food that may not get shown as much love with these orders is soup, but consumers’ growing interest in soups, especially during the winter holidays, can help boost catering sales even further. Here’s how.

Menu seasonal flavors

If pumpkin-spice lattes are any indication, seasonal flavor plays a big role in what consumers want to order. In fact, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report, about a third of consumers say that their preferences tend to change depending on the season, and 65% say that if an item is described as seasonal, it enhances the flavor. During colder months and through the holiday season, familiar seasonal soups such as beef stew, Italian-style wedding soup or pasta e fagioli soup could sell well thanks to their comforting, warm and nostalgic appeal.

Offer toppings to go

When offering soup as part of a catering or takeout menu, one way to hook customers in is with additional optional topping bars sold alongside soup. This allows every diner to customize their soup experience with flavors they love. For instance, tomato soup can be sold with a toppings add-on that includes shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon or crisp croutons, while cream of potato soup can be sold with the trimmings one might expect on a baked potato bar—chives, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa or bacon.  For the 64% of consumers in Technomic’s Flavor report who say that topping customization is important when choosing what/where to eat, the availability of a toppings option can be a big selling point for ordering soup as part of a catered or takeout meal.

Consider unique packaging

Seasonal packaging often helps with how interested people are in purchasing a certain item. For instance, specialty packaging offered to coordinate with specific holidays or events, can help boost interest in soups. Color-coordinated utensils and bowls can help save time in decoration and can help party planners with one less thing to do, plus they add to the party’s overall ambiance. Branded packaging can also help, particularly if the soup is from a recognizable or nostalgic brand, as 37% of consumers say they are more likely to try a new menu item if it’s made by a familiar brand, according to the Flavor report.

Offer optional bread bowls

Finally, during colder weather, diners love comforting foods. Warm, soothing soup is a great place to start, but who doesn’t love a bread bowl for their soup? While not ideal for brothy soups such as vegetable beef or chicken noodle, a broccoli cheddar soup is great in a bread bowl, plus it ensures the meal will be even more filling. By offering a menu addition of bread bowls alongside a catering order of soup, diners may be encouraged to purchase one or more soup options for their event.

During the winter months, when catering meals and delivery might be higher than other times of year, operators can leverage their soup offerings to increase interest. From seasonal flavors and topping bars to unique party-themed packaging and optional bread bowl upgrades, operators have a few options for boosting soup sales through the holidays. Implement one or more of these strategies and monitor soup orders to see what works best for your specific location.

This post is sponsored by Campbell's Foodservice

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