Flavour innovation driving restaurant sales

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 25th October 2009

New research from America has shown that consumer interest in expanding their palettes is on the rise, with innovative flavours driving restaurant sales.

The study, from foodservice industry consultant Technomic, finds that 42 per cent of consumers, particularly males aged 25 to 34, are more likely to visit restaurants that offer new or unique flavours.

The 2009 Flavor Consumer Trend Report was designed to identify opportunities for restaurant operators and suppliers and help them differentiate their menus to attract new patrons and increase frequency of current customers. It discovers that two-thirds of consumers (66 per cent) say that discovering a new flavour at a restaurant can persuade them to return to that venue for the same dish, and more than half (55 per cent) suggest it could convince them to try other dishes there as well.

Importantly, over a third (36 per cent) indicated they are more interested in trying new flavours than they were a year ago, while a similar number are willing to spend more on a meal that incorporates new or innovative flavours.
“Flavour innovation presents a solid competitive advantage for both operators and manufacturers, especially when it comes to dips, sauces, condiments and marinades,” Darren Tristano, EVP of Technomic, explained. “The punch of heat and spice, and the balance of creaminess or sweetness, underscores the uniqueness in the preparation. An unusual flavour profile could be one that drives repeat visits by consumers.”

Other key findings:

* Roughly one-third of consumers look for sauces and condiments that are low in fat or calories (34 per cent) and sodium (29 per cent), or prefer to use “organic” or “all-natural” condiments when available (26 per cent).
* Garlic, pepper and smoky barbecue flavour profiles dominate entrée menus. Global influences are also prominent, specifically those with a Mexican, Asian and Italian flair.