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Add menu innovation with cheese

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Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also the anchor of a successful menu. Consumers want to be drawn in by appetizing choices when dining out. According to Technomic’s 2017Flavor Consumer Trend Report, 35% of consumers, including 53% of consumers ages 18- to 34-years old are more interested in trying new flavors than they were the year before. What’s driving their curiosity? Sixty-two percent say they are looking for something different, while fifty-five percent say they want to discover new flavors. Adding innovation to the menu can help them explore.

Keeping consumer interest high can be challenging for restaurant operators who already have so much on their plate, so to speak. Yet, experimenting with a versatile ingredient like cheese can add infinite and bold variations to the menu.

Once operators open the door to cheese, they enter a world of endless flavor combinations. Technomic’s Flavor Consumer Trend Report finds that 43% of young consumers say they would like more places to offer food with a combination of flavors. Consider upgrading a simple pasta dish by adding blue cheese to fusilli for a creamy entree. Add protein and flavor to a simple green salad with the addition of sharply flavored asiago and parmesan cheeses. Have a simple biscuit on the menu? Go bold by mixing fontina cheese along with chives into the batter.

Operators can help their menus stand out through flavor combinations, particularly when they get playful with ethnic cuisine. Technomic’s Flavor report shows that 43% of consumers say they’d like to see more dishes that feature a fusion of flavors from different types of cuisine. For instance, restaurants can give traditional enchiladas a makeover by incorporating goat cheese with a black bean and corn filling.

Sandwiches are also a ripe place to flex the versatility of cheese with other ingredients. Technomic’s recent Sandwich Menu Insights report found that in breakfast sandwiches, smoked gouda and Manchego are growing in popularity while pepper Jack, feta, gruyere, goat cheese, and parmesan are enjoying mainstream success. And for lunch and dinner sandwiches, while goat cheese is already mainstream gruyere is growing as a sandwich ingredient and other cheeses including muenster, ricotta and smoked gouda show potential for growth.

The bottom line is that cheese is among the most flexible food ingredients with a broad range of culinary uses and allows for operators to leverage across all day parts, according to Mintel’s 2019 Future of Cheese Report. With a strong focus on meat on the side and better-for-you dining, people are looking at cheese as a way to make dishes more craveable and rich in protein.

This post is sponsored by Saputo Foodservice

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