During the years immediately following the financial crisis of 2008, consumers used foodservice more sparingly. When dining out, they looked at the value proposition. Operators reacted in a variety of ways. Limited-service restaurants (LSRs) needed ways to get customers in the door and did so by adding more value meals and by emphasizing “deals.” Full-service restaurants (FSRs) and LSRs alike began reducing portion sizes. This was the impedes for the rise of small plates and extended tapas.
While price naturally makes up a large portion of the value equation, consumers and operators were increasingly focused on simpler but higher quality foodservice experiences. For consumers spending their hard-earned dollars, they focused on where they could find high quality for the most reasonable prices – in food, atmosphere and service. On the flip side, with rising food costs and tighter margins, operators had to look for other ways to impress quality on their guests.
Customization began to take hold during this period, which benefited both the consumer and the operator. Consumers were able to choose exactly what they wanted, and not be charged for the ability to do so. At the same time, operators could cut down on food waste and cost by only serving what the customer wanted and in smaller portions.
Today, customization is expected. In fact, 77% of fast casual consumers say they want more build-your-own menu options. Customization opens the door to try new flavors and flavor combinations. Customization also speaks to the health considerations of consumers by allowing consumers to control portions, calorie-counts and other nutritional characteristics.
In the future, the ability for customization will grow in restaurants and non-commercial food locations alike. Expect new spins on how customization appears on menus across the foodservice industry, including the use of technological advances, choose-your-own-ingredients dishes and a heightened focus on ‘hyper-localized’ ethnic offerings.
To learn more about menu development in the past decade, download entegra’s CyberSeries White Paper Menu Development: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
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.