Capitalize on 2018’s Big Trends Without a Big Investment

In virtually every foodservice segment today, market-demand menu flexibility is more business-critical than ever, in large part because consumers are more sophisticated than ever.

They’re always looking for more new and intriguing experiences, including more ethnic- and artisan-driven innovation, as well as healthier options with more natural ingredients.

But what does that mean for an establishment running on a tight profit margin or tight space concept, with little room for any kind of major investment in equipment or kitchen expansion?

Here are three summer-trend-inspired menu additions that, while requiring little capital, can nonetheless plug a nice sales-and-profit boost into your product offering.

1. Ice Cream Is Hot

As a summer concept, this obviously isn’t a revolutionary idea. It’s the business side of this traditional treat that presents some exciting potential in 2018.

First, while a “plunge in milk prices (is stressing) dairy farmers,” according to an Associated Press report in Farm Journal just a couple weeks ago, the lower price is great news for foodservice operators, because it can widen margins and, possibly, allow for a little room to trial some of those “new and intriguing experiences.”

And why not? While your dairy price is down, your customers’ disposable incomes are up. So, they’re willing to spend more on the “premium ingredients,” “wacky flavors” and “artisan” options they want, even in their ice cream.

2. Concessions Isn’t Standard ‘Fair’ Anymore

The snack craving is worldwide.

In fact, in its 2018 Global Megatrends, Technomic reports that “almost three-quarters of consumers surveyed say they eat a snack at least once a day.” And, get this, “four out of 10 look for snack-size items on menus.”

Held up against the rising demand for unique flavors and healthier ingredients, this means consumers aren’t moving away from snacks and other traditionally indulgent food choices. Instead, they’re looking for operators to offer new, innovative snacking options.

And, just like with ice cream, this presents great premium retail-price opportunities for those who can introduce, say, an ethnic wasabi gourmet popcorn, an all-natural, smoothie-inspired, piña-colada-style snow cone or some other imaginative concessions rule breaker.

3. Condiments Are Changing the Game  

Historically an afterthought at the hot-dog counter or, literally, marginalized to a dish “on the side,” these saucy add-ons are becoming the center of attention.

Think sriracha just a few years ago. Condiments are taking the culinary world by storm, giving operators of all types low-cost solutions for introducing new flavors that can wow palates and open wallets.

From the Korean lineup of hot sauces to the wild, healthy yogurt varieties that are adding a savory touch to a host of foods, the condiment craze is hitting its stride and expanding margins on menus across the summertime spectrum.