One trend that has gained momentum is the movement toward more veggie-based starters and sides. Ethnic veggies and twists on classic vegetable sides, such as kimchi and zucchini fries, are spreading to operators who don’t normally offer these items. Additionally, kale, beets, cauliflower and radishes are now being highlighted in menus.
This boost in interest is because 37% of people, both men and women between the ages of 18-34 years old, strongly agree that they’d like restaurants to offer more veggie-focused appetizers, according to a recent Technomic study. Lighter starters could drive larger entrée purchases as appetizers which aren’t fried, don’t spoil the appetites of the customers. Consumer demand for higher-quality ingredients and greater transparency - the premiumization of menu items - is impacting the starter, side and small plate categories. Increasingly, operators will want to convey freshness, natural ingredients and authentic preparations to meet demands for quality and health.
In addition, sides and appetizers are becoming swappable. As standard meal-parts continue to blur, operators are increasingly offering sides as appetizers and appetizers as sides. This allows the operator to be more flexible with their menu. This blurring could mean all additional items beyond entrees, desserts and beverages are compiled under a “snacks” or “extras” section. This would allow guests to interpret on their own how to order.
Entegra Procurement Services regularly publishes blog posts on food trends and innovations in food services. Entegra is more than a group purchasing organization (GPO): Our team of procurement specialists implement strategic sourcing to bring the most value to your business. We help our clients, in many segments ranging from the healthcare supply chain to restaurant supply, to cut costs and consolidate their portfolios.