Soups and salads have been smashing hits the past years, in light of the current health fad. Customers continue to seek out healthy, light and reasonably priced menu items, and restaurants are quick to capitalize on the trend.
And for restaurants to be able to effectively recognize opportunities and achieve competitive advantage, market research firm Technomic came up with some helpful consumer trend data based on a study they have developed, the Left Side of the Menu: Soup and Salad Consumer Trend Report.
Consumers are said to order soup more this year, with figures showing that 61% of them request it occasionally when they visit restaurants, a bit higher when compared to the 52% that has been reported two years ago. All the more for salads, which now have almost 50% of customers ordering them constantly at restaurants, as compared to the 34% accounted two years ago.
“Whether in a bowl or cup, as entrée or side, restaurant operators are now giving their menus in elegant menu covers a face lift as they acknowledge their customers’ demand for salads and soups,” said Sara Monnette, Technomic’s Director of Consumer Research. “They realize that portion variety and healthy options are significant driving factors in positioning these items, so they create the necessary variations—as a side substitution, stand-alone entry, a combo meal component, or an appetizer.”
Technomic’s remarkable findings include:
• Soup Surpassed Salad As Top Appetizer in LSRs
While the two remain to be the most requested appetizers at full-service restaurants (FSRs) and limited-service restaurants (LSRs), it has been found out that the demand for soups has grown by 22% since 2009, while orders for appetizer salads have remained comparatively steady over the years.
• Chicken-topped Salads and Caesar Salads as Leading Entrees
Salads with chicken toppings are the most offered entrée variety at FSRs and LSRs, seconded by Caesar Salad. Salads are also considered as the most commonly menued entrée at restaurants, ranking fourth at LSRs and second at FSRs.
• Chili As Leading Soup Option
As Technomic gathered data from more than 500 top and emerging chains, it was learned that chili soup is more in demand to customers than soup-of-the-day, making it the most ordered soup type at LSRs and the second most in-demand at FSRs.
• Customers Look For Lighter, Healthier Fare
Customers’ interest in lighter, healthier menu items in smart-looking menu covers is what drives them to order both fares. 76% who purchase salads says that they get it because they were looking for healthier options, while 49% says they wanted to eat lighter food.
• Dressings As Key Component In Salads
64% of consumers think that dressings are an important component in making a delicious salad. Purchase drivers are the total variety of dressing flavors and options that restaurants offer, its healthfulness, as well as brand names.