Just as spring brings eagerly anticipated green growth on the ground and on the trees, spring menus lend color and vibrancy to foodservice menus and signal a return to favorite seasonal ingredients.
Seasonality is a selling point that’s gaining even more traction among today’s younger consumers who regularly seek out fresh, seasonal foods for a variety of reasons, from health and wellness to visual appeal. Nearly half (45%) of these younger consumers report they are more likely to try a new flavor if it features seasonal ingredients, compared to 34% of older consumers, according to Technomic’s 2019 Flavor Consumer Trend Report. That same report noted that diners’ flavor preferences do change with the seasons.
Though they may be made with limited-time ingredients, there’s no limit to the types of dishes operators can offer that feature seasonal produce. Check out these ideas for inspiration.
For example, as many consumers move toward a flexitarian diet with more plant-based foods, salads are particularly resonating with diners, especially younger ones. As Technomic’s 2019 Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report noted, 72% of younger consumers are more likely to order or buy salads described as seasonal, and 38% are willing to pay more for seasonal salads.
A salad brimming with a variety of trends—seasonal produce, plant-based ingredients, interesting and new flavors—is an enticing, colorful addition to springtime foodservice offerings. One example of a dish that features these trends is a Cornbread Jackfruit Panzanella Salad, featuring trending ingredients such as jackfruit and arugula along with convenient, ready-to-use ingredients such as Simplot Harvest Fresh Avocado Dices and RoastWorks Flame-Roasted Corn & Jalapeno Blend.
Spring-focused, plant-forward menus also include small plates, such as Charred Brussels Sprouts, Angry Edamame or Papas Locas Corn Loaded Fries, all of which can be passed around the table. Sharing is important to today’s diners, with 32% of consumers saying they like to order appetizers because they want to share with those in their party, according to Technomic’s 2019 Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report.
Special drink menus for spring, including those made with adult beverages and those that are alcohol- free, are also a way to spotlight the flavors of the season. Underscoring the attraction of seasonality, 43% of Gen Z consumers say their choice of beverage tends to change based on the time of year, according to Technomic’s 2018 Beverage Consumer Trend Report. Drinks with fresh spring and summer ingredients, including avocado, rose, blueberry and tomato, are intriguing to today’s customers.
Special occasions and beyond
Beyond general spring menus, the season presents specific occasions to mix it up with ingredients such as avocado dices and corn and jalapeno blends. Cinco de Mayo, for instance, is increasingly popular among all consumers in the U.S., while holidays such as Easter, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day remain big occasions for both creative and traditional appetizers, entrees, specialty drinks and other dishes that highlight the taste and look of seasonal foods.
Put springtime flavor on the menu
Adding fresh produce and springtime ingredients to the menu is key to keeping diners interested in what’s being served. To get the recipe for Cornbread Jackfruit Panzanella Salad and others, visit simplotfoods.com/ or call (800) 572-7783.
This post is sponsored by Simplot