Canadian diners are ordering more items off the menu

According to Technomic’s latest report, the last quarter of 2022 showed diners are ordering more off the menu, even as menu prices saw an increase of about six percent across the board. Only the kids’ menu category saw a decline in menu counts, finishing off the year with numbers down 2.2 percent overall.

According to the report, items that saw the most growth on menus included non-alcoholic beverages (+ 7.3 per cent) and desserts (+ 6.5 per cent), followed closely by add-ons (+ 5.4 per cent) and appetizers (+ 5.2 per cent). Rounding out the list were entrées (+ 4.2 per cent), sides (+ 2.5 per cent), and senior menus (+ 0.6 per cent).

As people head to their favourite restaurants in search of something new, global flavours and dishes are gaining popularity, with Cuban and Egyptian cuisine both up 33.3 per cent, and Japanese tempura dish remaining the most popular entrée of 2022.

Many diners continue to focus on healthier lifestyles, as vegan dishes (+ 10.2 per cent) and plant-based options (+ 8.8 per cent) topped this category. With vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian dining continue to gain popularity, oat-based milk (+ 57.1 per cent) and plant-based beef (+ 28.2 per cent) showed the most growth on menus in the last quarter. More than three-quarters of diners ordered a plant-based meat alternative at least once a month last year, and 69 per cent are planning to order them at an equal or higher rate this year. This is a category that remains important for restaurant menus.

RELATED: How restaurants are addressing diner demand for healthier choices

In the last few years, we’ve seen a steady rise in off-premise dining, but towards the end of last year, some of these numbers were down, like take-and-bake options (- 75 per cent) and meal kits (- 22.2 per cent), suggesting that as restaurant continue to fill up, they are phasing out these offerings.

With menu counts up 4.7 per cent overall in the last quarter of 2022, it’s hopeful that even amid continued inflation, restaurants will see traffic return to pre-pandemic levels this year.