Consumer demand for healthy, clean and sustainable ingredients continues to shape foodservice menus, even as the COVID-19 pandemic gives way to new trends and challenges for the industry. Here are some of the most important trends influencing foodservice menu innovation in 2021 and beyond:
1. Mindful choices
Ethical and environmental considerations are playing a greater role in consumers’ food purchase decisions. Consumers increasingly want to know if their foods are from sustainable sources, and show a growing preference for plant-based foods. According to the Plant Based Foods Association, one-third of Americans want to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy. Millennial and Gen Z consumers cite concerns about the environment and animal welfare as key motivators for eating plant-based foods.1
New research shows that sustainability has remained top of mind for consumers even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly half of consumers say the pandemic has made them more concerned about the environment, with 11% saying they have shifted their purchases based on environmental claims within the past year.2 Adding more plant-based, vegan and vegetarian offerings to the menu will continue to be an important opportunity for foodservice operators, especially when appealing to younger generations.
2. Healthier options:
Today’s consumers also show a preference for simple, recognizable and clean ingredients. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated consumer interest in foods that strengthen the immune system and are high in nutrients. A recent survey from consumer market research firm FMCG Gurus found that consumers are striving to eat more fruits and vegetables to support a healthy immune system as a result of COVID-19.3
Leveraging more whole food ingredients can help foodservice operators appeal to an increasingly health-minded consumer. Already, many restaurants and chains have expanded their availability of healthier alternatives and made an effort to include more premium and sustainable ingredients. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2030 Trends Report, healthier dining options, specifically plant-based and vegetarian dishes, are among the top menu innovation trends for the next decade.4
3. Delivery-friendly fare:
Food delivery sales are booming because of the COVID-19 pandemic, growing by 150% year-over-year in July 2020, according to data firm Second Measure.5
Demand is expanding not only at restaurants, but also at “ghost kitchens” or “cloud kitchens” that focus entirely on the online delivery business. As more consumers opt to eat at home, restaurants are pivoting toward more delivery-friendly meals while maintaining the same quality and freshness of ingredients.
“Freeze-dried ingredients are an easy way for foodservice operators to add new flavors, textures and color to existing menu items, or to innovate new options that align with the current demand for healthy, natural ingredients and more vegetarian, vegan and plant-based options,” says Kathy De La Bastide, Group R&D Manager at Chaucer Foods. “Our freeze-dried products are ready to use and can be easily added to any recipe for an instant value-add.”
Freeze-dried fruit and vegetables retain key nutrients as well as their natural color, shape and original flavor. With a long, ambient shelf life, freeze-dried ingredients stay fresh month-after-month for zero food waste.
Chaucer also offers several sweet and savory baked ingredients for foodservice applications, including croutons for soups and salads, as well as sweet toppings and inclusions for ice cream, desserts, baked goods and beverages. No artificial preservatives are added during the baking or drying process, and many of the products are vegan.
Whether you are working on something new, or reformulating your menu to meet new trends, our team can work with you to find a solution that adds value. Learn more about how freeze-dried and baked ingredients can be used in foodservice recipes, or contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. “Consumer Insights,” Plant Based Food Association.
2. “Consumers still care about sustainability amid pandemic, report finds,” Food Dive. April 24, 2020.
3. “Are Consumer Habits Changing Due to COVID-19?” FMCG Gurus. May 13, 2020.
4. “Restaurant Industry 2030,” National Restaurant Association.
5. “Which company is winning the restaurant food delivery war?” Second Measure. August 18, 2020