Fruit, by far, is the dessert category that operators expect to grow the most in the next two years (42%). It already has the highest percentage of total dessert sales (23%). The next growth category is ice cream/frozen treats, at 17%, followed by cakes, at 16%, which were both largely buoyed by colleges; 38% of colleges expect growth in ice cream/frozen treats and 25% expect growth in cakes. Cookies, at 22%, also have a high percentage of total dessert sales.
Schools, at 51%, were the most likely segment not to expect growth in any dessert category, due in large part to new meal regulations, which make it difficult for desserts to be sold in schools. One-third of the overall non-commercial market expects no growth in this area.
Overall 42% of respondents expect fruit to be the most popular dessert growth category. For Dave Manz, district manager for the Pittsburgh market of Parkhurst Dining, fruit is not only being promoted as a healthier option, but his customers are also asking for it. “In the catering realm, when we do offer dessert, we offer fruit as second option,” he explains.
Nearly 40% of colleges and universities indicate that the biggest growth area for dessert will come from ice cream/frozen treats. “It’s kind of a no-brainer,” observes Scot Ostrander, food administrator at Northern Illinois University, in DeKalb. “Everyone loves ice cream … for college kids, it reminds them of home.” Several colleges and universities have also started offering gelato, which will also impact growth for this menu category.