Over the pandemic, comfort foods reigned supreme—consumers were looking for familiar, indulgent options to dine on, and for good reason. But now, as many head back to their pre-pandemic routines, including going back to work and school, they’re looking for other things when making the choice on where—and what—to eat. Three big trends are driving sales, in fact—better-for-you options, plant-based choices and global flavors are all leading the charge when it comes to what consumers want to eat. Want some inspiration on how to offer these choices? Keep on reading.
According to Technomic’s recent Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, consumers’ definition of health has expanded far beyond foods simply being low in calories or low in fat. Nowadays, natural ingredients, low-carb options, organic and local ingredients, unprocessed options and preservative-free foods are all things consumers look for when they want to order healthy foods. Quality options all day long, including hearty, high-protein breakfast sandwiches, tasty salads at lunchtime and balanced entrees on the dinner menu—featuring proteins, veggies or fruits and carbs—ensure that diners looking for healthier, better-for-you choices will have something to enjoy.
Another trend that’s driving sales this year is plant-based. While most consumers aren’t vegetarian or vegan, plenty are interested in trying meatless meals from time to time—according to Technomic’s 2021 Center of the Plate: Seafood and Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report, only about 2% of consumers are vegan and only about 3% are vegetarian, but 42% of consumers say they eat vegetarian or vegan meals at least once a week. For those diners looking for meatless, plant-forward or plant-based options, unique options such as plantain slices or yuca (cassava) fries are a perfect choice for a side dish. They offer nutritional benefits that many consumers are looking for, while also giving meat-free diners something new and exciting to look forward to ordering.
Finally, global flavors are on the rise. Technomic’s recent Global Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report found that 38% of consumers say they like to explore regional varieties of mainstream cuisines so they can try new foods and flavors. And when serving global cuisines, authenticity is key—nearly half (47%) of consumers say authenticity is important when choosing a foodservice establishment to visit for global foods and beverages. For operators, boosting authenticity can be as simple as ensuring global and regional cheeses and other authentic ingredients are being used. Crispy yuca puffs, for example, can be used in place of tater tots to offer a fun and globally inspired side, and operators can offer sliced plantains alongside stewed beef and black beans for a delicious, easy-prep Cuban-inspired dish that diners interested in global flavors will love.
Operators looking to boost interest in their menus in a post-COVID-19 landscape should look to these trends—and their corresponding ingredients—when planning new meals and sides. Choosing ingredients from MIC Food, such as crispy yuca puffs, yuca fries and ripe plantain slices, makes it easy to offer all three trends—better-for-you choices, plant-based meals and global flavors—all at once. To learn more, visit www.micfood.com.
This post is sponsored by MIC FOOD