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Fruit-infused flavor goes global

Photograph: Shutterstock

Consumer demand for global cuisine shows no signs of slowing down. As patrons become more acquainted with international fare, they’re looking to expand their palates. In fact, 44% of millennials say they want to see more ethnic options at restaurants, and 66% of baby boomers like to explore new flavors but prefer to try them in familiar formats, according to Technomic’s 2019 Generational Consumer Trend Report. 

Striking that balance between familiarity and adventure can be tricky, but operators are rising to the challenge. Menu items that showcase popular ingredients such as fruit within globally inspired recipes can encourage guests to try something new.  

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to incorporating international flavors on the menu, but “classic with a twist” is a great place to start. The versatility of fruit in both sweet and savory applications makes it ideal for innovative menuing.

Perennial favorites such as chicken wings, sandwiches and pizza can be enlivened with fruit-forward glazes, spreads and toppings that add global flair and interesting flavor. Think pineapple pizza with Italian 'nduja sausage and scamorza cheese, or a portabella mushroom banh mi topped with sweet-and-sour diced mango and blackberry sriracha sauce. 

The global cuisine trend also aligns well with portable items like bowls, handhelds and beverages that are critical in today’s foodservice climate—easily adapted for delivery and carryout. In fact, 64% of consumers say they would be likely to order ethnic dishes described as street foods if they were available at restaurants, according to Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report.  

Memorable items such as Cuban empanadas stuffed with pineapple-marinated pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickle, mustard and pineapple-mango mojo sauce are likely to resonate with consumers looking for dishes they can’t easily prepare at home. An Indonesian fried rice bowl filled with chili, garlic, shallots and diced mango also fits the bill.

The beverage and dessert categories can also serve as jumping-off points for creative global menu items. A mango-turmeric smoothie bowl blended with coconut lassi can serve triple duty as a breakfast offering, drink or dessert. Colorful toppings such as strawberries, goji berries and mint can add perceived value and social media appeal. DelicateJapanese fruit sandos—dessert sandwiches filled with whipped cream and perfectly diced and sliced fruit—make for an impressive presentation that’s sure to please patrons looking for a unique treat. 

With hundreds, if not thousands, of global cuisine styles to choose from, there’s no shortage of international inspiration to guide menu development. Whether an operator chooses to create a fusion dish or to enliven a popular favorite with ethnic ingredients, fruit can help to bridge the gap between familiar and unexpected flavor combinations. 

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This post is sponsored by Dole Packaged Foods

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