Fries can present a bit of a conundrum for noncommercial foodservice operators. They are almost always going to be included on a menu because they are one of the most ubiquitous of sides. But there’s also an element of “been there, done that.” How can operators keep fries exciting and fresh - without going too far?
Consumers value sides as an important part of their meal, but they tend to go for what they know. Technomic’s recent Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report finds that the number of consumers asking for new and different sides has been on the decline since 2015. Classic ingredients and new takes on familiar dishes are favored.
So, when it comes to modernizing a classic like french fries there’s a few ways to go. Operators can mix and match bold flavors and come up with something unique. They can explore entirely new dishes (the loaded fry realm), or they can try new and different products and styles—think wedges, curly fries and other fun shapes.
For example, Simplot offers the SeasonedCrisp Savory line—skin-on fries that are mildly spicy, flavored with onion, garlic and paprika. The product comes in a variety of styles including straight cut, wedge, loops and lattice cut. It’s just one way to try something a bit different.
For the more adventurous, operators can always explore a fusion of flavors. Umami fries are one potential route. Umami is one of the five basic tastes—the other four being sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness. Umami has not had the publicity of the other four, but it’s quickly gaining in notoriety—there are a few chains across the country that market their entire menus on the concept, for instance.
For noncommercial foodservice operators, umami fries provide one way to stay current while also ensuring there’s a side that consumers are familiar and comfortable with. Umami also presents a chance to broaden menu appeal. Some examples of food rich in umami components include soy sauce, cheese, shellfish and cured meats, so there’s nearly endless options of ways to add it to the menu—and, many options are naturally gluten-free. Umami flavored fries could be an unusual option that allows noncommercial operators the chance to offer uniquely flavored fries and promote the item as less salty and gluten-free, to boot.
Mixing bold flavors, giving consumers some options (spicier fries as opposed to regular, for instance) and diving into the latest flavor trends are just a few of the ways operators can appeal to a broader audience while putting a new look on an old favorite.
This post is sponsored by Simplot