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CHICAGO -- Although familiar flavors have staying power on restaurant menus, new research from Technomic Inc. highlights the importance of foodservice operators and suppliers staying on top of flavor trends by combining classic favorites with new twists.
Seventy-three percent of consumers surveyed indicated that if they try and like a menu item with an innovative flavor, they are highly likely to return and try it again, according to Technomic’s Flavor Consumer Trend Report. Key findings of the research include:
- New flavors are attractive to many consumers, with 37 percent saying they are increasingly driven to try new flavors and 41 percent saying new flavors can influence them to visit a restaurant.
- For the first time, a majority of consumers (54 percent) prefer hot or spicy sauces, dips or condiments, an increase from 48 percent in 2011 and 46 percent two years earlier.
- Flavor synergy is a trend to watch, with research showing that sweet flavors pair well with the greatest number of other flavors, including savory, sour, smoky or spicy profiles.
"In a competitive foodservice climate, flavor differentiation is a must-have for operators," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic. "Because today's foodservice consumers have such a strong expectation for innovative flavors, operators and suppliers have to help the menu stand out by staying ahead of the flavor curve. Knowing which flavors are up-and-coming and truly enticing to guests will be essential in gaining their dining-out dollars."