menu trends

Menu trends to watch for March 2018

By Aaron Jourden

Below we will highlight some of the leading menu trends to watch on Canadian menus this month.

Sweet heat

About the trend: Operators are catering to demand for bold and exciting flavour experiences by developing complex sauces and toppings that combine spicy and sweet components. These condiments can be found on new items and LTOs ranging from pizzas and burgers to fried chicken and breakfast dishes.

  • Unexpected ingredient combinations
  • Assertive and craveable
  • Simple way to dress up familiar dishes

Menu Examples:

  • Jugo Juice—new avocado toast featuring toasted sourdough topped with Sriracha honey and hemp hearts
  • Dairy Queen—new chicken strips tossed in a honey glaze spiked with Frank’s RedHot sauce
  • Smoke’s Poutinerie—limited-time poutine offering topped with prime beef and Tabasco Sweet & Spicy sauce

Hemp seeds

About the trend: Touted as a healthy, nutrient-dense ingredient high in protein and fatty acids, hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts, could be poised to join superfood standouts like quinoa, acai and chia. The seeds can be used in bowls and salads or as part of a beverage in the form of hemp milk.

  • Health positioning
  • Nutty flavour
  • Diverse applications

Menu Examples:

  • Booster Juice—new bowl entree featuring kale, spinach and mango dressed with pineapple juice and topped with chia and hemp seeds
  • Salmigondis (Montreal)—recently offered dish of poke with cabbage, scallion, espelette emulsion, hemp hearts, sauerkraut and choice of tofu or salmon
  • The Drake Hotel Restaurant (Toronto)—new hemp milk latte with espresso, cinnamon and steamed hemp milk

menu trends

Coffee meets the spice rack

About the trend: Looking to infuse new excitement on the beverage menu, several chains are experimenting with spices that add to coffee everything from a spicy kick to a splash of colour to a punch of flavour.

  • Easy enhancement that adds flavour and colour
  • Seasonal applications
  • Health and wellness appeal

Menu Examples:

  • Starbucks—seasonal chili mocha with espresso, cocoa, spiced steamed milk and whipped cream, dusted with ancho and cayenne
  • Coffee Culture Cafe & Eatery—new for winter was a golden chai latte prepared with turmeric
  • Good Earth Coffeehouse—new flat white and coffee mocha drinks finished with a dusting of cinnamon

About the author:

Aaron Jourden is the managing editor – global & distribution at Chicago-based Technomic Inc., a Winsight company. 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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