The takeaway for foodservice distributors, according to Bernadette McGuane, senior product manager of Technomic Information Services, is that they should be looking to see these trends on menus among the products they currently have in inventory.
"Using these products, distributors should be giving operators specific menu ideas for how to innovate and, in turn, increase their sales," McGuane said in reply to a question from ID Access.
Because the "Menu Clips Annual Review" compiles 12 months of extensive menu tracking efforts, McGuane also noted that "aggregating that much menu activity into one report really brings these trends to the surface."
Among the examples that she cited for distributors is that chains are starting to focus more on breakfast and, consequently, they could use the opportunity to introduce a whole new line of products to their customers.
Among the broader findings reported by Technomic are:
Beverage menus exhibited heightened activity. For many chains, particularly limited-service operators, these efforts centered on improving their coffee service, primarily to stem competition from chains like Starbucks and various quick-casual concepts. However, there were also an increasing number of shakes and ice-cream based treats, providing many new, indulgent dessert-like options.
Salads remained one of the most innovative meal parts on operators' menus, addressing both consumer interest in new ethnic flavors, as well as demands for interesting, healthier eating options. Numerous examples of this trend appear in both limited- and full-service operations.
Side order innovations, typically led by full-service chains, were actually outpaced by limited-service operators last year. Many of these items reflect LSRs' efforts to build check averages and increase snacking occasions.
The "Menu Clips Annual Review" includes detailed reporting on all major menu categories, as well as related operator news, preparation and presentation trends, featured ingredients, international influences, and more. This year, for the first time, the "Menu Clips Annual Review" also reports on limited-time offerings, providing additional insights on operators' efforts to test new and interesting menu items.