As diners return to their favourite restaurants and we try to adopt a more “business as usual” approach, how will restaurant menus need to change to reflect growing demand and new trends?
Technomic has gathered some interesting data highlighting which menu items have gained the most popularity from pre-pandemic to today.
Topping the list with the most growth is oat milk (+657 per cent), with plant-based beef (+92 per cent) and plant-based poultry (+72 per cent) shooting ahead. The growth in arctic char (+200 per cent) is note-worthy, along with hearts of palm (+105 per cent), rhubarb (+77 per cent), and maitake mushrooms (+77 per cent).
When we look at popular eating trends across the board, the results for milk and meat alternatives and fresh ingredients start to make sense. While plant-based eating spiked during the pandemic, consumers continue to choose healthier alternatives, with plant-based lifestyles still gaining momentum.
Alongside the pursuit of health is the quest to save money amid decades-high inflation and that is also reflected in the data which shows a significant rise in value-oriented items (+3,450 per cent) and build-your-own value meals (+1,000 per cent). Interestingly, menu item counts are on the decline, down eight per cent since pre-pandemic days (Q4 2019) and down two per cent in the last year.
According to a recent study, 80 per cent of diners say they are eating out less often, citing rising costs as the cause, so it’s clear here that customers are watching their pennies as their costs continue to increase.
RELATED: Has restaurant food inflation finally peaked in Canada?
What do these results mean for menus? The pandemic changed customers, and restaurants need to adjust accordingly. Experts predicted that diners would be after healthier options and better value, and they nailed it.
For restaurants looking to get an edge, a menu makeover may just do the trick. As the competition gets stiffer in a shrinking market, using the stats to better serve your customers could be just what you need to attract new customers and keep your regulars coming back.