Demand for New Flavors Creates Several Interesting Opportunities

Like every year, 2019 offers a multitude of foodservice trend reports with a handful of undeniable common themes that create a certain degree of intrigue.

Perhaps most notable this year are themes like more ethnic flavors, more color and more health-food options that, all together, are lifting the stature of traditional afterthoughts like condiments and sauces.

As operators continue to seek smart, cost-effective ways to sustain the menu innovation necessary to compete, condiment exploration creates an amazing business opportunity.

Here are 4 tasty examples.

1. Condiments Cater to Customization

Pointing to a recent Technomic report, NAFEM cites that 72% of consumers “expect customization” at their restaurants.

Unfortunately, the same report exposes how only a minority of operators are dialed into this demand and, when asked, only a little more than half are even willing to accommodate it, which is a missed business opportunity.

Among a number of solutions, a more creative condiment-and-sauce spread can be an easy, lower-cost way to feed this customization craving, especially because it enables operators to grant customers more control over their flavor versatility, without deviating from the wisdom of a streamlined menu.

2. Condiments Cross, and Can Transform, All Dayparts

Naturally, the idea of condiment exploration takes the mind to places other than ketchup and mustard. As it should.

But it also ought to extend beyond the traditional hotdog and burger meals of lunch and dinner.

Craveable condiments and spreads” is among 2019’s four major breakfast trends, according to Foodservice Director, where avocado, fig-and-raspberry jam and sriracha grab the spotlight for turning standard-fare morning items into eye-opening flavor originality.     

And, for QSR and c-store establishments, in particular, let’s not overlook the power of the snacking trend that continues to blur the daypart lines entirely. Even on-the-go foods offer opportunities to capture consumer interest with new condiment-applied flavors.

3. Condiments Can Be a Competitive Edge

“Signature sauces” have as much brand-differentiation impact as “signature menu items,” even when it comes to concoctions that aren’t necessarily crafted or—perhaps, even more accurately described—are the result of happy accidents.

SmartBrief recently published an article with a great segment on this topic, calling out the magnetism of Chik-Fil-A’s and Outback Steakhouse’s unnamed sauces as examples that satisfy the 40% of consumers who actually “have specific signature sauces in mind’ when dining out. (Ketchup with the Latest Condiment Trends, February 2019.)

4. Condiments Can Be Cost Controlled

Especially given the demand, introducing more condiment options can elicit nightmare scenarios for operators who are all too familiar with the immeasurable loss of product, whether at the mercy of self-serve patrons or due to messy handling in a fast-paced kitchen.

Today, dispenser innovations are emerging that optimize portion control and virtually eliminate mess in both situations. Not to mention, if looking to truly explore higher-margin creative or artisanal condiment offerings, operators can even find dispensers designed to handle higher-viscosity sauces and those with seeds or other ingredient particulates intended to provide an authentic texture.