2010 Menu Development survey: In menus, diversity rules

Chefs and operators are becoming more adventurous with their menus but there are still limits to what they can achieve.

FSD’s 2010 Menu Survey

The results of our 2010 Menu Development Survey are in. Here is a snapshot of the industry, based on the responses of 298 operators.

  • America has long been known as a “melting pot” or “salad bowl” because of the variety of ethnicities represented in this country. That variety is reflected in the types of cuisines being offered among our survey respondents. The 12 cuisines represented, by percent offering: Chinese/Japanese: 73%; Mediterranean/Greek: 45%; Nuevo Latino: 25%; Caribbean: 24%; Indian: 24%; Cuban: 22%; Middle Eastern: 22%; Thai: 21%; Jamaican: 19%; Korean: 10%; Vietnamese: 8%; other Southeast Asian: 6%.• Twenty-three percent of respondents said they offer none of the cuisines listed above. The percentages were highest in nursing homes/LTC (43%), schools (26%) and hospitals (23%).
  • Thai (20%), Mediterranean and Indian (10% each) are mentioned by respondents to be “hot” ethnic cuisines.• Thai is also the cuisine most likely to be added by respondents during the next 12 months, with 15% indicating they would be including it in their menu mix. Other likely additions include Caribbean (14%), Cuban and other Southeast Asian (13% each), and Indian, Vietnamese and Nuevo Latino (12% each).
  • Culinary training is an important component for operators wanting to keep abreast of menu trends, and there are several options available to make this happen. Among the learning opportunities used by respondents are trade shows and conferences (71%), in-house seminars and workshops (65%), online training (36%), off-site training (29%), bringing culinary professionals in (25%) and chef competitions (20%).
  • Takeout business makes up about 19%, on average, of the meal volume among respondents. Grab and go is most popular in hospitals (33%), B&I (33%) and colleges (22%), and least popular in nursing homes/LTC (8%) and schools (6%). On average, one-quarter of operators expect takeout business to grow during the next year, and 4% expect it to decrease.
  • Display cooking is an option offered by 44% of operators. Colleges (87%) and B&I (79%) are the most likely places to see preparation in front of diners, while schools (7%) seldom do display prep. Of those operators who do display cooking, 43% do it every day, 16% offer it four to six times per week, 16% offer it two to three times a week and 23% make it a once-a-week occasion. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they expect the frequency of display cooking to increase in the near future.

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