To stay ahead of the trends, operators are increasingly looking beyond U.S. borders for innovative ideas. A noteworthy or quirky new menu item in China or Chile can inspire a winning LTO stateside.
Technomic’s Global Foodservice Navigator Program tracks 25 countries around the world, curating the most unique and trend-forward items to emerge on chain menus. Not surprisingly, a number of recent limited-time offers and new launches were geared to consumers quarantining at home. These are eight to watch from the latest quarterly report.
Saucy Meatball Mozza Pot
Subway, known as a sandwich destination, jumped on the bowl trend with the launch of the Saucy Meatball Mozza Pot in Australia. The new core menu item basically repurposes one of Subway’s meaty sandwich fillings to a small to-go bowl, positioning it as a side or snack. The meatballs are sauced with marinara and topped with melted mozzarella.
Handcrafted 1-liter Beverages
With takeout and delivery still dominating as the coronavirus crisis drags on, Starbucks introduced bottled, handcrafted cold drinks to go in India. While single-serve bottled beverages are abundant, Starbucks packaged these in large, multiserving bottles designed for families or groups under one roof—kind of an artisanal alternative to mass-produced soft drinks. The flavors speak to the handcrafted message: Shaken Hibiscus Lemonade, Vietnamese Cold Brew, Green Tea Latte and Signature Chocolate are some of the seven varieties.
Chicken Cheese Crumble
Both fried chicken and gooey cheese have gained traction during the pandemic, as consumers continue to seek comfort foods. Burger King combine the two in its Chicken Cheese Crumble, which debuted as an LTO in Indonesia. The Cheesy King, as it is popularly known, layers additional indulgence on fried chicken by coating it with cheese sauce and crispy cheese crumbles.
Veal Bull’s Eye Burger
Differentiation is a key goal in developing a craveable burger, and Tony Roma’s is setting its offering apart by adding a different meat to the mix. Locations in Spain offered a burger blended of ground veal and crumbled oxtail topped with caramelized onions, cheese and steakhouse sauce. The burger taps into the trend of featuring more than one premium protein in a single item, says Aaron Jourden, Technomic’s senior research manager, global.
All-Day Breakfast Pizza
Although breakfast pizzas often appear on brunch menus in casual-dining restaurants , they haven’t really caught on in limited-service spots in the U.S. Papa John’s is trying a version in the U.K., marketing it as an “all-day” breakfast pizza. It features ingredients that are favorites of the British breakfast crowd: Canned baked beans in tomato sauce, bacon and pork sausage rounded out with potato tots, baby portobello mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. Whether Americans will go for baked beans on a pizza is questionable, but a breakfast pizza to-go may be a hit with work-from-home consumers who may want breakfast later in the day.
Durian Lava Cake
This one may be another hard sell for Americans, as the aroma of durian is a turnoff for many foreigners. But the fruit is widely appreciated in Asian countries, prompting Domino’s to launch a dessert with a molten durian filling in Malaysia. The individual cake is described as having a perfect golden crust on the outside, oozing with creamy durian goodness on the inside.”
Donut La Lechera
Dunkin’ also targeted sweets seekers with the debut of its Donut La Lechera in Colombia. The donut is filled with sweetened condensed milk, an ingredient that has widespread use in Latin America and Mexico. Dunkin’ is marketing the takeoff on its classic creme-filled donuts as a treat to enjoy when confined at home.
Flower Cone Series
Sweet indulgences seemed to be in demand with pandemic-weary consumers this summer, with KFC doing its part to meet that demand with its Flower Cones Series in China. The Instagram-friendly ice cream cones, created to look like blooming flowers, provide a whimsical presentation. The taste is pretty whimsical too, with blood orange-flavored collagen jelly, crispy caramel popcorn, mango sauce and brown sugar tapioca pearls among the ingredients.