Trend Watch: Moroccan spices, halloumi, and keto

By Sophie Mir

Here are some of the leading menu trends to watch on Canadian menus.

Moroccan-Spiced Meats

With over half (57%) of consumers reporting that they would be more likely to buy beef, pork or chicken dishes if they were made with ethnic flavours and ingredients, according to Technomic’s 2019 Canadian Centre of the Plate Consumer Trend Report, operators are highlighting Moroccan-spiced meat dishes, especially those that include harissa.

  • Bold, often spicy flavour profiles
  • Most commonly featured in lamb and beef dishes
  • Looking ahead, expect to see central and southern African spices and sauces as the trend moves from northern Africa

Menu Examples:

  • Constantine in Toronto recently offered Moroccan-braised lamb shank
  • Symposium Cafe spotlights a Dinner For Two special that includes grilled beef medallions, glazed in a Moroccan-inspired sauce
  • Le Select Bistro in Toronto menus a lamb burger, spiced with harissa and other Moroccan flavours


Already gaining tremendous popularity across the U.K. and Australia, this Middle Eastern cheese is making its way onto Canadian menus. With over half (58%) of consumers expressing that they crave cheesy flavours, operators are featuring this ethnic cheese both as a stand-alone appetizer and as part of an entree dish.

  • Menu mentions of halloumi are up 12% over the past year, including a 33.3% increase in appetizers, according to Technomic’s Ignite menu data
  • Grilled and fried preparations offer extra flavour and texture complexity
  • High protein content allows it to be highlighted as a vegetarian protein alternative

Menu Examples:

  • Baton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar recently debuted Seared Halloumi, served in a skillet with cherry tomatoes, watermelon radishes and Smoke Show hot sauce
  • Pita Pit rolled out its Grilled Halloumi and Falafel Pita
  • Paramount Fine Foods menus the Grilled Halloumi Salad

Keto-Friendly Callouts

Characterized by low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat intake, the keto diet is gaining widespread popularity among consumers for its numerous health benefits, including weight loss. Operators are responding by calling out keto-friendly items across all mealparts and dayparts.

  • Keto menu mentions increased by 26.7% over the past year, according to Technomic’s Ignite menu data
  • Keto-friendly dishes are aligning with consumers’ health views, with 66% of consumers reporting that they consider food or beverages with low-carbohydrate callouts as healthier, according to Technomic’s 2018 Canadian Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report
  • Restaurants should distinguish keto-friendly items from regular items on menus; for example, by assigning a symbol next to it, such as a “K” in a circle

Menu Examples:

  • Eggsmart introduced its Keto Bacon Cheeseburger Salad, topped with keto-friendly salad dressing
  • Mr. Sub partnered with Unbun Foods to launch the Keto Bun, which contains 6 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of fibre and 16 grams of protein
  • Blaze Pizza rolled out its Keto Crust, which contains 6 grams of carbohydrates

Sophie Mir is an associate editor at Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *