Food Service: Turning Trends into Money Makers

Industry: Food, Hospitality

At Portland's Northwest Foodservice Show, speaker Nancy Kruse gave a very informative keynote about turning trends into money makers. This blog post is just a brief recap.

Goal: To get the consumer out of the kitchen.

How: Upscale and upmarket menu items (and prices)

3 comfort food opportunities:
  • grilled cheese - Great Steak's Philly Mac & Cheesesteak; Panera's cuban chicken panini (antibiotic chicken served with jalapeno-infused brine pickle chips); upscaled grilled cheese (brie and apple slices on brioche bread); grilled cheese sandwiches matched by cheese to wines
  • meatballs - Fazoli's ultimate meatball smasher; meatball sliders; meatball bruschetta; oven-roasted hand-cut meatballs finished with butter and thyme; foodcart "Great Balls on Tires" (Long Beach, CA)
  • red velvet (a flavorful reaction between buttermilk and cocoa powder) - red velvet... pudding, cupcakes, wedding cakes, pancakes, donuts, fried chicken (chicken dredged with red velvet cake batter and cream cheese in the mashed potatoes), as a tea (red tea, raspberry, and white chocolate), as a martini (chocolate vodka, vanilla vodka, frambroise, and chocolate liquor)
2 breakout trends:
  • oatmeal - Five weeks after Starbucks started offering this, it turned into a best seller; finished with upmarket toppings (dried fruit, raw brown sugar); Caribou Coffee competes with Starbucks in this category; Jamba Juice uses organic steel-cut oats; McDonalds offers oatmeal with fruit and maple; McDonalds was able to attract women into breakfast foods (a male-dominated category) by offering oatmeal; Corner Bakery offers oatmeal made with yogurt with flavors for summer (berry almond swiss oatmeal) or autumn (spiced cranapple oatmeal); foodcart "Bloops" vegan oatmeal; foodcart Sweetflow Truck's oatmeal brûlée(Washington DC)
  • "green" foods - not necessarily organic; roasted artichokes on a chicken sandwich; pasta verde with seven greens (Italian parsley, basil, cilantro, asparagus, oregano, spinach, and peas); CPK oven roasted artichoke and sauteed spinach pizza; farmstand burger with fresh spinach; Mimi Cafe's citrus-broiled shrimp "springtime spread" with asparagus and fresh strawberries; Morton's iceberg wedge bites (baby iceberge lettuce as a finger food); Wendy's new salads (has more marketshare than McDonalds or Panera)
Easy, adaptable promo ideas:
  • "crunch it" - textural enhancement; e.g., potato chips topped burgers
  • "pop it" - popcorn revival; melted butter with sriracha Vietnamese chiles; popcorn as a side or a snack (with grated parmesan, cracked pepper, chopped chives, truffle oil, sesame seeds) only $5 at Grahamwich's
  • "shrink it" - smaller portions; hands-on; shareable; Claimjumper's BBQ pork sliders; Starbuck's new petites in 8 varieties
  • "pasta in the AM" - Sfoglia's balsamic marinated strawberry and spaghetti; spaghetti tacos (evolved from Disney's I, Carly tv show; popular among tweens 8-12 year olds)
What creates craveability?
and savvy promotion

Trends offer chances to keep customers close:
  • familiar and comforting
  • flavor and fun
  • creative across the board
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