Technomic’s latest Ignite Canadian menu data report found that while the like of bowl value meals, spicy sauces, and lighter alcoholic beverages are trending strongly year over year, cheese and straight spirits have notably declined.
The Ignite data noted declining overall year-over-year counts in entrees (-4 per cent), appetizers (-2 per cent), and sides (-5 per cent), while other mealparts including non-alcoholic beverages (+5 per cent), adult beverages
(+2 per cent), add-ons (+2 per cent), and desserts (+3 per cent) are on the rise.
Overall menu items decreased two per cent year over year. While this may sound underwhelming, the fact that this compares to a nine per cent decrease from pre-pandemic to today signals that a slow road to recovery may be starting, found the report.
But what were the key categories showing growth and declines year over year?
Among the fastest-growing dishes are bowl value meals, which were up by a massive 250 per cent, and taquito entrees, up 175 per cent. Both of these categories are often spotlighting global flavours.
Several coffee drinks are also growing on menus, especially cold coffee
drinks, including iced Americanos (+62 per cent), iced coffees (+34 per cent), an iced lattes (+24 per cent).
Within adult beverage menus, spritzers (+107 per cent) top the fastest-growing list, followed by hard sparkling water/sodas (+71 per cent), indicating a trend toward lighter or lower-alcohol adult beverage
Floral flavours are also on the rise, with lavender (+42 per cent) appearing in lemonades, lattes, and desserts, and hibiscus (+27 per cent) being featured in teas and cocktails.
On the sauce side, spicy is in vogue. Sauces and condiments such as Nashville hot sauce (+48 per cent), chipotle sauce (17 per cent), and wasabi
mayonnaise (+10 per cent) are all showing growth, reflecting a gravitation
toward bold, exciting flavours.
With entrees overall posting a four per cent decline, take-and-bake meals (-39 per cent) are seeing a particularly large drop, indicating that more consumers may be returning to in-person dining as dining rooms reopen.
When it comes to specific products, several cheeses are on the list of
declining flavours, including pepperjack (-31 per cent), brie (-19 per cent), and Manchego (-17 per cent). This could perhaps be a result of dairy-free (+16 per cent) taking the spot of fastest-growing healthy claim, while another factor could be that dairy has been one of the categories must affected by inflation and price rises in recent months.
When it comes to adult beverage options, many straight spirits are decreasing on menus, including rum straight (-21 per cent) and Scotch whisky straight (-19 per cent), another indication that menus may be straying away from higher-alcohol options.