Great potential for fresh produce on restaurant menus

Posted by James Ferre on 28th July 2009

Opportunities abound when it comes to using fresh produce on restaurant menus, according to new research presented at a conference in the United States.

Conducted by National Restaurant Association and Produce Marketing Association, the research highlighted that a focus on produce expanded options, sourcing and food safety.

“Our new research lays the foundation to … identify new opportunities to serve … guests more fresh produce options on restaurant menus,” National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney said. “Nutrition and food safety are key issues to our industry, and working with the produce and distributor industries will enhance both.”

The research on fresh produce in foodservice shows that restaurant operators see fresh produce as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. Nearly three out of four restaurant operators (72 per cent) said emphasizing fresh produce in their marketing efforts drives more customers to their restaurant. In addition, 46 per cent of restaurant operators said they look for fresh produce items that their customers can not buy at their supermarket, including 78 per cent of fine dining operators.

Forty-one percent are so confident in growing consumer demand for fresh produce that they expect to serve more fresh produce in the next two years, while only three per cent said they expect to serve about the same amount.

“This research gives us tremendous insight into where we should focus our efforts to increase use of fresh produce in foodservice, which benefits everyone that touches the plate, with the ultimate beneficiary being the end consumer,” PMA President and CEO Bryan Silbermann suggested.