Whether savoured alone or shared with friends, appetizers are becoming a hot commodity among restaurant goers. What’s more, the popularity of bite-sized shareables has given rise to new innovations and fresh opportunities for foodservice providers.
“The appetizer category presents an exciting opportunity for restaurant operators, who are often challenged to provide innovative menu items that are easy to execute and will increase average cheque with limited risk,” says Greg Boyer, Director of Marketing, McCain Foodservice. “At the same time, diners are looking for new and different features that provide value and a new eating experience.”
Growth in the appetizer category is being driven by a “less is more” appetite among Canadian eaters. In McCain’s national survey, 42 per cent of respondents say they eat less than they did 10 years ago, and two out of three agree it’s healthier to eat smaller portions. Offering size is also a factor, with Canadians being twice as likely to say portion sizes in restaurants are too large instead of too small, and more than half wanting restaurants to offer two sizes of appetizers: small and regular.
With these insights in mind, McCain recently piloted a three-week McCain Appetizer program in partnership with select restaurants across Canada to determine whether offering snack size apps would increase overall sales or lead diners to trade down from regular sized apps. Over the course of the trial, operators found an increase of 10-15 per cent in appetizer sales.
These results, says Boyer, point to an important trend: “It’s all about quality, not quantity. With the pilot program, we found the key to success was offering small portions of craveable and trending apps from McCain like Potato Bites, Panko Style Onion Rings, and Battered Cauliflower. As these items are trending on menus across Canada, offering them at an accessible price point entices consumers to add them to their regular purchase or in addition to ordering beverages.”
Gaining the edge in the appetizer game is, however, about more than offering multiple sizes for individuals and groups. It’s about piquing diner interests with unique tastes and new spins on old favourites.
“We put a new twist on a gourmet classic by drawing on the charcuterie board trend and bringing it to the masses with the appicuterie board: a shareable, customizable spread of crowd-pleasing favourite appetizers,” offers Boyer. “By capitalizing on a trend that everyone knows and loves, the appicuterie board not only offers a variety of choice and flavours, but also allows consumers to spend less time deciding what to eat and more time catching up with loved ones.”
For more information, please visit www.mccainfoodservice.ca.