Flavor innovation enhances food service traffic

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO — Consumers are interested in expanding their palates when dining out and want to patronize restaurants that offer innovative flavors, according to Technomic Inc.’s 2009 Flavor Consumer Trend Report. The new study found 42% of consumers, particularly males aged 25 to 34, are more likely to visit restaurants that offer new or unique flavors.

The trend researchers also found that:

• Nearly two-thirds of consumers (66%) said discovering a new flavor at a restaurant can persuade them to return to that venue for the same dish, and more than half (55%) said they may try other dishes there.

• Thirty-six per cent said they are more interested in trying new flavors than they were a year ago.

• Over a third of consumers (35%) were willing to spend more on a meal that incorporates new or innovative flavors.

• Among less broadly established ethnic cuisines, those of high interest include Spanish (72%), Hawaiian (71%), Tex-Mex (69%), Greek (66%), and Caribbean and Mediterranean (66% and 62%, respectively).

• Roughly one-third of consumers look for sauces and condiments that are low in fat or calories and sodium, or prefer to use "organic" or "all-natural" condiments when available.

• Garlic, pepper and smoky barbecue flavor profiles dominate entrée menus. Global influences are also prominent, specifically those with a Mexican, Asian or Italian flair.

"Flavor innovation presents a solid competitive advantage for both operators and manufacturers, especially when it comes to dips, sauces, condiments and marinades," says Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of Technomic. "The punch of heat and spice, and the balance of creaminess or sweetness, underscores the uniqueness in the preparation. An unusual flavor profile could be one that drives repeat visits by consumers."

To learn more about the study, visit www.Technomic.com.

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