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Fun, family-friendly foods can unlock summer sales

Funnel cakes
Photograph: Shutterstock

The pandemic shaped countless changes in the behavior and habits of many Americans. For example, according to research from Technomic, parents with children have been a key driver of foodservice spending.

Additionally, a consumer survey found that weekly away-from-home food spending increased by about $23 from August through November 2020 among families with school-aged children, while nonparents’ spending increased by only about $5 during that same time period. Because that coincided with the start of the school year, it can be said that busy parents have increasingly relied upon restaurants for help with feeding their families. Even as restrictions ease, many of those spending habits may remain.

Looking toward summer, experts predict a boost in travel and outdoor events, as well as an inclination among consumers of all ages to treat themselves. This is a great opportunity for operators to market fun foods for the whole family. Here are a few ways to leverage classic snacks and summer treats.

Nostalgia and novelty

Consumers crave treats that they associate with great experiences and those they enjoyed as kids; memories of snacking on soft pretzels, funnel cakes and frozen novelties as they stroll through outdoor events are held close by many. At the same time, many consumers are looking for new and novel indulgences. Savvy operators offer both. For example, J&J Snack Foods’ SUPERPRETZEL® Soft Pretzels satisfy a yen for comforting nostalgia, while the brand’s soft pretzels stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapeno-n-cheese, sweet cream cheese or pizza ingredients will intrigue those looking for something different.

Similarly, traditional funnel cakes are an amusement park favorite and a sure snack seller. New variations such as The Funnel Cake Factory’s® Strawberries n’ Crème and Chocolate & Vanilla Dual Flavored Funnel Cake tap into the nostalgia and entice customers all over again.

Globally inspired snack options like churros may not be familiar to some U.S. consumers, but these cinnamon and sugar fried dough twists are surging in popularity. Menu offerings of churros rocketed up 16% in 2020, according to Ignite menu data. J&J Snack Foods offers a variety of churro portion sizes, from minis and regular to king size. Tradition calls for serving churros with a side of chocolate or cajeta (caramel) dipping sauces, but J&J Snack Food’s California Churros® are available with a variety of fillings, including apple, strawberry, cajeta and Bavarian creme.

Leverage brand names

Be sure to showcase brand-name products prominently on menus, too, because consumers trust and are comfortable with these familiar names. Operators find that customers are more apt to purchase, say, a LUIGI’S® Real Italian Ice than a similar generic frozen novelty, just as another customer might be enticed into sampling a churro if it is an OREO®-filled Churro.

Bundle up

During the pandemic, family meal kits were a staple for some families: 13% of consumers (18% of millennials) purchased or were likely to purchase meal kits, according to Technomic’s 2020 Delivery and Takeout Consumer Trend Report. Bundled meals add perceived value—and one tried-and-true way to enhance value is by including snacks and desserts along with the main meal components.

Themed bundles are fun and ease the decision-making process. “Day at the Beach” might feature ICEE® Freeze Tubes, while Funnel Cakes are perfect for a “County Fair” bundle.” Consider a “Pretzel-Palooza” package—a selection of Traditional Soft Pretzels, Bavarian Soft Pretzels and Stuffed Pretzels guaranteed to keep the kids (and adults) happy. Don’t forget dessert: offer a churros variety pack, with a selection of regular and filled churros. Sell more snacks, keep diners happy—it’s a win-win.

By incorporating these tips, diners will come back all summer long—and beyond—to get the treats they’re craving. Learn more about all J&J Snack Foods has to offer at jjsnackfoodservice.com.

This post is sponsored by J&J Snack Foods

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