July menu trends include sweet and spicy pairings

By Kristin Menas

These trends have been seen frequently on restaurant menus this year. Below are some of the leading menu trends to watch this July.

Mango and pepper pairings

About the trend: Restaurants are pairing mango with spicy ingredients like habanero and chipotle, particularly in sauces, salsas and seasonings.

  • This trend is seen most often at quick-service and casual-dining chains
  • The sweetness of mango balances out the hot pepper flavour
  • Consumer heat preferences for spicy foods and sauces are shifting back to moderately spicy (from very spicy)

Menu examples:

  • Church’s Chicken Canada’s Mango Habanero Chicken
  • MR MIKES Steakhouse Casual’s Lodge Chips with chipotle-mango seasoning
  • Milestones’ Mango Chili Shrimp

Dairy alternatives

About the trend: Operators are offering the option of non-dairy additives for beverages, such as coconut and almond milks to appeal to diners with health restrictions.

  • Almond milk mentions in non-alcohol beverages increased 20 per cent over the past year
  • Mentions of coconut milk in non-alcohol drinks is up 37.5 per cent year-over-year
  • This trend appeals to health-conscious guests as well as those with a lactose intolerance

Menu examples:

  • Jugo Juice’s Berry Bolt Smoothie with unsweetened almond milk, lemon, strawberries, banana, raspberries, avocado and cranberry juice
  • Blenz Coffee’s addition of coconut milk as an option for all beverages
  • Booster Juice’s switch from soy milk to almond milk in some smoothies

Salted caramel

About the trend: Items featuring salt and caramel flavour pairings are popular on chain menus this summer, ranging from desserts to non-traditional beverages.

  • Mentions of salted caramel on menus are up 25.6 per cent in the latest year-over-year period
  • Salted caramel is a flavour that can easily be applied to offerings in all seasons
  • The sweet and savoury combination is craveable for diners uninterested in super-sweet items

Menu examples:

  • Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery’s Sweet & Salty Cold Brew with caramel, Hawaiian sea salt and cream
  • Arby’s Canada’s Salted Caramel & Chocolate Cookie
  • Union Burger’s Salted Caramel Cluster Milkshake

About the author:

Kristin Menas is the Associate Editor, Canada & Adult Beverage at Technomic Inc. in Chicago. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. For more information, visit

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