2008 Menu Development Survey: The state of the plate 2008

Ethnic menu items continue to gain popularity among noncommercial foodservice operators.

Veggie volume
According to the survey, 9% of the average noncommercial menu is given over to vegetarian or vegan food items. That figure is up slightly from 7% last year. The biggest jump in vegetarian items is on college campuses, where 15% of the average menu is given over to meatless items; the percentage last year was 10%.

In the other market sectors, the percentages of vegetarian and vegan items are: B&I, 9%; hospitals and schools, 8%, and long-term care, 4%.

When it comes to requests for meatless options, 12% of college customers are asking for them, 10% of B&I customers, 6% in hospitals, and 4% in schools and long-term care.

Trans-fat transition
The noncommercial industry is inching closer to a trans fat-free business, according to our survey. Only 10% of operators polled say they have not eliminated trans fats from their menu items; the number last year was 16%. Virtually all B&I operators have eliminated trans fats from at least some items, while on the flip side, 24% of long-term care operators still have yet to address the trans fats problem.

Regarding specific products and processes, on average 81% of operators have removed trans fats from frying oils and shortening, 57% from salad oils and 35% from baked goods. In addition, 25% say they have stopped purchasing products that contain trans fats.

“We continue to eliminate trans fats on a regular basis,” says Nona Golledge, director of dining for the University of Kansas. “It’s more about when products become available that we look at them, but it is definitely something we are moving forward with in all of our products.”

The local angle
Despite the increasing desire on the part of both customers and operators to do whatever they can to reduce the environmental footprint, sourcing local and/or organic products continues to be a challenge for many operators. Nearly 26% of operators say they are not sourcing any products locally, and 68% say they are not buying organic items. Last year, those percentages were 20% and 69%, respectively. For most operators, availability continues to be the major roadblock.

“We have really tried to push local and organic, but it has been difficult to get products through the regular local channels because there is not a wide enough variety,” says John Barclay, assistant director of nutritional care at Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo, Calif. “We are doing only a limited amount.”

Colleges and universities are most likely to be sourcing local and organic, with only 13% saying they don’t buy local products, and 36% saying they don’t source organic.

When it comes to products, those buying local are most likely to purchase locally grown produce and locally produced dairy items; 57% say they buy produce, 55% buy dairy, 38% buy baked goods and 33% buy meats and/or seafood from local sources.

On the organic side, 22% of operators buying organic source produce, 17% source snacks and 11% source meats/seafood and/or dairy.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
salad

We’re currently piloting a Salad Bar Happy Hour 
in Cafe 16. Due to Health Department regulations, any self-serve salad bar items must be disposed of after service. The salad bar goes “on sale” for 25 cents an ounce post-lunchtime to help reduce waste as well as offer value to customers.

Menu Development
sauces

Adding an entirely new cuisine to the menu can feel daunting. But what if you could dabble in international flavors simply by introducing a few new condiments? For inspiration, FSD talked to operators who are offering a range of condiments plucked from global regional cuisines.

“Most ethnic cuisines have some sort of sauce or condiment relishes that go with their dishes,” says Roy Sullivan, executive chef with Nutrition & Food Services at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Condiments offered to diners at UCSF Medical include chimichurri (Argentina), curry (India), tzatziki (...

Ideas and Innovation
turnip juice brine

Give leftover brine new life by adding it to vegetables. In an interview with Food52, Stuart Brioza, chef and owner of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, says that he adds a splash of leftover brine while sauteeing mushrooms to increase their flavor profile. “We like to ferment turnips at the restaurant, and it’s a great way to use that brine—though dill pickle brine would work just as well,” he says.

Menu Development
side dishes

Operators looking to increase sales of side dishes may want to focus on freshness and value. Here’s what attributes consumers say are important when picking sides.

Fresh - 73% Offered at a fair price - 72% Satisfies a craving - 64% Premium ingredients - 56% Natural ingredients - 49% Signature side - 47% Something familiar - 46% Housemade/made from scratch - 44% Something new/unique - 42% Large portion size - 42% Healthfulness - 40% Family-size - 40%

Source: Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

FSD Resources