Restaurant diners are increasingly turning their noses up at fried foods, according to a new industry report.
Black Box Intelligence’s latest pulse report says that guest sentiment for fried foods has declined since the start of the pandemic at both limited- and full-service restaurants.
The greatest decline in fried food’s appeal to diners was in limited-service restaurants, and the largest drop in sentiment was found to relate specifically to french fries.
Black Box suggests that the downtick is due in part to the extended journey fried foods make from kitchen to consumption as a direct result of the increased shift towards ordering to-go and off-premises consumption.
Ever since that shift began to go through something of a forced acceleration due to the pandemic, the issue of certain foods not travelling well has been discussed by many in the industry. Restaurants have gone as far as paring down or even entirely altering their menus to ensure that only foods suitable to transportation and at-home consumption are offered.
Black Box found that, compared to pre-pandemic, limited-service guests in the second half of 2021 mentioned “soggy” fries twice as often and “crispy” fries less often. French fries, as any chef or fry cook will know, do not hold up well to temperature changes and moisture, such as those that can be expected to be experienced in a takeout box inside a car.
An additional factor is likely a considerable price jump in cooking oils such as olive oil, as well as the generally high level of inflation being seen in Canada and the U.S. in recent months. As a result, suggests Black Box, some restaurant operators may stretch inventory and look for alternative sources, which can change the flavour profile and quality of key fried menu offerings.