Making room for fruit

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As more and more consumers reach for food that provides a nutritional boost, fruit continues to play a central role on menus. According to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend report, consumers consider foods with certain health attributes—antioxidant rich (71%), aiding digestion (58%) and anti-inflammatory (56%)—to mean that those foods are healthy. What’s more, according to Technomic’s Ignite Menu Data, mentions of superfoods such as blueberries on menus are up 56% year-over-year. Foodservice operators should be looking for more ways to include fruit throughout the day—in more ways than in just a fruit salad.

Beyond its functional nutrition, fruit is also perceived as “fresh” and therefore “healthy” by diners. In fact, 81% of consumers say they relate the term “fresh” to healthfulness, according to Technomic’s Healthy Eating report. More than half of consumers also say they look for use of fresh ingredients when choosing a restaurant, as stated in Technomic’s 2018 Generational Consumer Trend Report.

How to add more fruit to the menu

Foodservice operations can add more fruit, and convey the idea of “healthy” and “fresh,” by including fruit in savory dishes at lunch and dinner. For instance, mango, which offers a natural sweetness, bright color and tropical flavor, can be served with onion, almonds and Mesclun greens, for an innovative and summery salad. As fall approaches, operators can veer more on-season by combining diced Golden Delicious apples with salad greens, candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and dried cranberries.

Additionally, as 65% of consumers strongly agree that dressing is important for adding flavor to salads, as reported by Technomic’s 2018 Soup and Salad Consumer TrendReport, operators can consider whipping up their own dressings, like raspberry vinaigrette, for a punch of color and flavor.

Unique fruit additions in breakfast and dessert

There’s plenty of room at breakfast to incorporate fruit beyond a simple side. Topping bars appeal to 58% of consumers ages 18- to 34-years-old, and 50% of those over age 35, according to Technomic’s 2017 Dessert Consumer Trend report. Almost all fruit can elevate granola, cereal and breakfast baked goods. Yet, operators should go one step further to keep diners interested, as 36% of consumers say it’s important that foodservice locations offer unique breakfast items, according to Technomic’s 2017 Breakfast Consumer Trend report. For example, consider limited time special breakfast ideas such as French toast-style grilled doughnuts topped with raspberry sauce and cream cheese glaze, or maple-walnut stuffed French toast with roasted Fuji apples.

Although incorporating fruit into dessert may seem obvious, don’t overlook the opportunity to make a big impact with diners. Technomic’s 2017 Flavor Consumer Trend Report found that “sweet” is up 58% as a craveable flavor and “fruity” is up 36%. In addition, Technomic’s Dessert report found that 51% of younger consumers say that a craveable dessert is likely to drive them to visit a certain restaurant. By extension, diners in a noncommercial operation will be likewise motivated to return if so inspired by a craveable dessert.

Fruit that was picked ripe in its season and processed within hours provides endless ways to add functional nutrition, fresh appeal and innovative parings to the menu—regardless of the season.

This post is sponsored by Simplot

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