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Supermarket foodservice ultimately comes down to menus – what’s actually cooking – and it seems that there is no end to educated opinions on this ultimate factor in consumers’ decision-making processes.
Mintel, for instance, has identified five noteworthy foodservice menu trends for 2011:
Health by Association: This involves infusing classic dishes with healthier ingredients and sending out better-for-you messages. Sixty-two per cent of consumers plan to eat healthier this year, but complain that this type of food doesn’t taste as good.
Automated Menus: Some eateries are experimenting with electronic order-takers like automated menus and mobile apps that allows them to serve diners faster with fewer workers.
Transparency: Mintel consumer respondents want to know what they’re eating and 61 percent agree that menus should list nutritional info like calorie counts and fat grams.
Indigenous Ingredients: Restaurants are incorporating more traditional and authentic ingredients into ethnic or globally-positioned entrees.
Exemptions to the Rule: Despite what they say, people are less likely to indulge in a guilty treat when they are confronted with a calorie count. Forty-three percent in Mintel’s survey say nutritional numbers have caused them to change an order.
Meanwhile, food trends research by Sodexo, foodservice provider to 650 college campuses in the U.S., finds that college students crave heart-healthy Mediterranean food, chefs preparing their meals while they wait with VIP treatment, old favorites made with healthier ingredients, world cuisine, and using technology for dining.
The USA Rice Federation says that proprietary research conducted among 500 chefs and operators finds that U.S.-grown rice usage continues to trend upwards because of growing demand for ethnic cuisines, increased appeal of whole grains, rice’s versatility, and chef/operators support of America’s farmers and the economy. There’s been a 15 percent increase in the past five years among chefs and operators in their use of brown rice and wild rice blends and 73 percent of operators confirmed they’re more likely to use rice because it’s a good alternative to potatoes and other starches.
Knouse Foods reminds us that March is National Nutrition Month and healthy menu items are beginning to take shape across all segments of the foodservice industry as chefs and operators balance meeting new dietary guidelines, menu disclosure, consumer preference, and government health and wellness initiatives. Knouse offers fruit-based recipe ideas and product info at knousefoodservice.com.
And finally, a hearty tip of the foodservice toque to Del Monte Fresh, which recently gave more than 525 students at Sun City Elementary in Bossier City, La. a truckload of Del Monte fresh fruit and active fruit games for being one of the top winners in all of North America with seven teachers winning in Del Monte Fresh Produce’s “Teacher Monday: Cash for Classrooms” online contest for collecting thousands of online votes from friends and family. Besides the truckload of fruity goodies, each teacher won $750 in cash to buy school supplies and $250 in Del Monte fresh fruit coupons for classrooms snacks and for use in fruit educational activities.