Global flavors shake up turkey LTOs

Photograph courtesy of Butterball Foodservice

From over-the-top drinks to piled-high burgers, LTOs across the board provide consumers with another reason to visit a favorite restaurant. They also afford operators a chance to try out new menu items or ingredients. Turkey can be the means for both ends, particularly when it comes to global flavorings. According to Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report, 35% of consumers say they are eating more unique types of ethnic foods and beverages now than they were two years ago.

For operators who offer turkey and want to put an ethnic item on the menu, incorporating global flavors can be a great opportunity.

Meeting consumer demand

Although turkey is traditionally seen as a holiday-centered meal, 42% of consumers say restaurants should offer more turkey-centric dishes outside of the holiday season, and 40% agree that they would order turkey more at restaurants if it were available, according to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report. When adding more turkey to the menu, think beyond traditional Thanksgiving flavors and explore more adventurous trending flavors.

Go bold with flavor

Technomic’s Poultry report found that when asked which flavors diners would be likely to order at restaurants at least occasionally for turkey dishes, 25% said they’d order ethnic flavors. Other popular options included smoky, savory and spicy. As for what types of ethnic flavors operators might consider, options such as teriyaki and chipotle can be winners. Twenty-five percent of consumers say they’d like to have teriyaki marinade or glaze on their turkey, and 19% said they’d like chipotle marinade or glaze.

The most popular ethnic cuisines include Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Mediterranean, which all offer plenty of opportunity for turkey LTOs. Take inspiration from these, for instance:

  • Einstein Bros. Bagels recently introduced its Santa Fe Thintastic Egg White breakfast sandwich. An asiago cheese bagel is topped with turkey sausage, fresh egg whites, spicy pepper Jack cheese and jalapeno salsa reduced-fat shmear. It’s perfect for diners who would enjoy a Mexican-inspired breakfast.
  • At Chopt, diners can try out the fast-casual salad chain’s Green Curry Meatball Bowl from its Destination Thailand menu. It features warm grains topped with green curry turkey meatballs, pickled hearts of palm, toasted coconut garlic crunch, cabbage and cilantro with a Chile Lime Vinaigrette.
  • For sandwich lovers who want Mediterranean flavors, the Turkey Hummus sandwich at Mimi’s, a casual dining chain with locations across the country, will be a hit. It features slow-roasted turkey, hummus, baby spinach, cucumbers, crumbled feta cheese and balsamic dressing on toasted whole wheat bread.

Restaurants wanting to offer more turkey options on the menu should look to other cuisines for inspiration. Start simply by pairing with ethnic-forward condiments, hot sauces, herbs and spices, or try turkey in unique preparations such as kebabs or gyros. No matter what’s on the menu, diners’ desire to try new turkey dishes will compel them to put in their order.

This post is sponsored by Butterball Foodservice