September 9th, 2019

Hot New Menu Items

Posted in Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors, Promotions

New Menu Items Show Love for Smoke and Heat

New Menu Items

As we close out the third quarter of the year and prepare to enter the fourth, we’re seeing quite a few interesting new menu items set to launch. From shrimp to waffles, smoke and spice trends seem to dominate.

Dickey’s BBQ Pit

Smoked Chicken Wings

Photo courtesy of Dickeys.com

Dickey’s is going all in on a permanent addition of its pit smoked wings to the menu. These were recently tested and proved a hit, so they’re not letting the excitement drop. There’s no end in sight for these savory wings, available in flavors like Sweet BBQ, Carolina BBQ, Buffalo, Hot Buffalo, and Texas Hot.

Norm’s

New Menu Items

The famous California diner, Norm’s, isn’t shying away from new flavor trends. From now until January 2020 you can enjoy one of their delicious Belgian waffles topped with crispy fried chicken and a spicy Sriracha honey sauce. We’ve seen this flavor combination pop-up in a few places in the past, but it’s nice to see it finding space on more conservative menus.

Red Lobster

New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of RedLobster.com

Never one to shy away from promotions, Red Lobster is making a safe bet with its $15.99 Endless Shrimp LTO. Set for an unspecified amount of time, this deal offers the diner a bottomless supply of Crispy Sriracha Honey, Teriyaki Grilled, or one of the other 3 shrimp flavors. You only get to select 2 flavors per order, however.

Subway

Smoked Brisket Sandwich

Photo courtesy of Subculture.Subway.com

Always a fan favorite, Subway continues to find new ways to satisfy sandwich cravings at an affordable price. Their newest addition to the lineup is the Pit-smoked Brisket Sandwich, complete with a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. This will only be available through September 6, however, so get there fast.

Taco Bell

Baked Cheddar Chalupa

Photo courtesy of Thrillist.com

It would seem unreal to not include Taco Bell on a new product launch list. The perennial masters of innovative ideas never disappoint. This time they are launching a Toasted Cheddar Chalupa, available with chicken or beef, or as a Bacon Club build. With 6-month aged Cheddar baked into the shell, it sounds like a can’t miss concept.

What’s Next?

I guess we’ll see soon. New menu launches and LTOs seem to be picking up speed recently, so I don’t doubt lots more interesting and delicious foods will be available soon. Be sure to stay tuned to see what else we uncover.

Cheers!

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August 26th, 2019

AI Technology Driving Efficiency in Fast Food

Posted in Consumer Trends, Restaurants, Technology

AI Technology shows strength in fast food testing

AI Technology in Restaurants

Photo courtesy of nrn.com

AI technology has been a conversation starter for some time now. In most cases, it’s in the format of “someday,” or “won’t it be crazy when…?”

Well it looks like that “when” is now. With impressive advances in AI technology over the last couple of years, companies have begun testing in different markets. One of the most popular platforms to test AI technology is currently in fast food restaurants.

Let’s look at how AI is changing the way we interact with food.

AI Technology in Food Service

As of now, four major players in the fast food arena (McDonald’s, Good Times, Chipotle, and Sonic) are either testing or in the process of implementing AI technology into their restaurants. But it’s not in the format one might expect.

AI Technology Fast Food

Photo courtesy of nrn.com

Instead of using the tech for cooking, packaging, or other labor-based skills, it’s being utilized in so-called “soft-skills,” specifically order taking. This use is why this type of AI is dubbed “conversational AI.”

How is Conversational AI Being Used?

Good Times is focusing on using this technology in drive through windows. Its system, lovingly named “Holly,” has shown to be very adept at her job. In the six months of her operation, Holly has reduced customer wait time by seven seconds and her intuitive up-selling has shown a measurable increase in check averages.

AI Technology

Photo courtesy of hospitalitytech.com

Chipotle has found success with their intuitive telephone ordering technology while Sonic begins testing on their drive through system this year. McDonald’s, however, is showing an aggressive push with a slightly different tech. By the end of this year they will have increased the implementation of their AI driven interactive menu boards from 700 to 8,000 restaurants nationwide. The biggest difference in their system is that the boards are not voice operated, but intuitive based on the customers choices.

What’s the Benefit of AI Technology?

The push for AI is coming from the operators’ need to:

  1. Decrease labor turnover
  2. Increase speed of service
  3. Increase accuracy
  4. Allow employees to focus on food quality

By letting AI systems take over ordering and basic customer service functions, employees are freed up to focus on food quality and speed of service. As of now the companies claim that the tech will not replace human employees, instead, it will help them do their jobs better.

There are some additional benefits of AI. It does not get tired, or angry, or sick. Its accuracy is nearly flawless, and is always “friendly,” even when being yelled at.

Limitations

AI in Fast Food

Photo courtesy of engadget.com

At this point some kinks are still being worked out. It’s incredibly important that the technology can actually understand the customer. Therefore, the speech detection portion of the software is absolutely crucial. Regional dialects and accents can add other variables. The adaptive learning portion of the program is essential in overcoming these limitations.

Fail safes have been implemented to help in some of these categories. For example, at any point during a conversation a customer can ask Holly to speak with a “human” or “employee.” However, in the time of its activity only ~1% of customers have chosen to do so. This shows not only Holly’s effectiveness, but also the adaptability of Good Time’s customers to changing technology.

Hello Future World!

It’s official, the future is here. Conversational AI now holds real estate in our pockets, homes, and restaurants. It’s safe to say that the only direction is forward when it comes to AI tech., so we’d better be ready for the changes. What an exciting time to be alive!

Cheers!

 

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August 12th, 2019

BBQ is King on Summer Menus

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Restaurants

Between LTO’s and Menu Updates, BBQ Reigns

BBQ is King

Summer is in full swing and according to menus nationwide, BBQ is king!

Aside all the frozen cocktails, fruit-focused summer salads, and swimsuit friendly bites, you’ll find smoky barbecue options hitting the mark. This trend isn’t simply relegated to full-service restaurants, it’s occurring across all market segments. Just check the menus…

BBQ on Summer Menus

Fast Food

BBQ Trends

Photo courtesy of chikfila.com

It looks like the fast food segment is all for the push to savory BBQ flavors. Chick-fil-A recently launched their Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Chicken Sandwich, while KFC has re-released their Smoky Mountain BBQ and Georgia Gold options. Across the board, burger staples like McDonald’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., and Jack in the Box are all featuring a seasonal BBQ option. Even Arby’s is on board with their Bourbon BBQ Sandwich selection.

Quick Service

BBQ Flavors

Photo courtesy of chewboom.com

QSR businesses are known for their trend forward ways and menu flexibility. It’s part of what makes them special. So, it’s no surprise to see BBQ options on these menus as well. Starbucks is taking their chance on a Honey BBQ Sriracha Chicken Sandwich, while Boston Market is going with a re-release of the Bourbon Bacon Rotisserie Chicken. MOD Pizza is blending pineapple with BBQ on their limited edition “Fred Pizza,” featuring Canadian bacon, roasted pineapple, red onion, and a sweet BBQ sauce swirl.

Full Service

BBQ on Menus

Photo courtesy of Chilis.com

Ruby Tuesdays, known for their epic salad bar, is upping their game with a Hickory Bourbon Bacon Sirloin. Chili’s has gone even further, pushing their BBQ options onto a new Smokehouse Combo menu, where you can mix and match choices of smoked brisket, cheesy bacon BBQ chicken, BBQ ribs, and smoked sausages. Outback Steakhouse has found legs in the BBQ trend with options like the Aussie Twisted Ribs and the BBQ Pork Porterhouse.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire!

And these flavor trends are hot! It’s no coincidence that BBQ is King on national menus. We saw massive growth with BBQ flavors last year, and 2019 doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. So, don’t fall behind, give the people what they want with unique new BBQ flavors and pairings.

Cheers!

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July 29th, 2019

Hibiscus Trend is Blooming

Posted in Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors

Hibiscus is trending on menus for its bright flavor and brighter color!

Hibiscus flower

I feel like it’s been too long since we’ve discussed flavor trends, so we’re going to end that streak today with a look at hibiscus.

Now, when I say hibiscus you probably think of a flower garnish on a Mai Tai or a component flavor in tea. But these vibrant flowers have proven to be a lot more versatile then we give them credit for. Their slightly bitter and citrusy flavor makes them perfect for an array of uses from garnish, sauces, beverages, and herbs.

Now Trending: Hibiscus

According to Datassential, hibiscus currently falls into the “adoption” stage of the Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC). This generally means that it’s gaining traction on menus but is still considered unique. It can be found at independent casual-dining and progressive fast-casual restaurants.

Hibiscus Glazed Wings

Image courtesy of Wahaca Twitter

It’s currently found on 6% of menus nationally, which is a 69% increase over the past 4 years. While the product is most familiar with Millennials and Gen Z, over half of the population has heard of it and almost a quarter have tried it. This leaves fertile ground to explore hibiscus in application.

In fact, the product Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup recently won the 2019 Front Burner Foodservice Pitch Competition. How’s that for timing?!

How to Use Hibiscus

Hibiscus is most commonly found in beverages, such as teas, cocktails, and agua frescas. But those are merely entry points for this ingredient.

Velvet Taco in Dallas serves their “Gator” taco on a hypnotically purple hibiscus taco shell. With its mild tartness, it’s a great balance to the fatty meat inside. You can use hibiscus in almost any bakery application to add color and an aromatic citric note.

Hibiscus Taco

Image courtesy of dallas.culturemap.com

Looking for a tangy sweet glaze for pork or lamb? Hibiscus and cranberry or orange make an excellent addition, cutting through the fattiness of the meat with bright, fresh flavor. It’s equally delicious in chutneys and vinaigrettes.

White fish and hibiscus also have a special relationship. It can be used as a dry rub, sweet sauce, or fresh garnish to bring a tropical note to the meat. It can also be an excellent component to ceviche, exemplified by Poca Madre’s Hamachi Ceviche, made with hibiscus, agua Jamaica, garlic, chile Serrano, and corn.

Where to Find Hibiscus

Hibiscus Ceviche

Photo courtesy of nrn.com

As its popularity grows, so does its availability. Hibiscus powder and dried flowers can often be sourced through networks like Shamrock and Sysco. Smaller producers, such as Iya Foods and the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company are also working on bringing their distribution up to meet the needs of a larger market.

Fresh hibiscus flowers can be more difficult to locate, but Fresh Origins, a micro greens company that works with most major distributors, can provide them.

Power to the Flower

As hibiscus continues along the MAC, we can expect to see new and unique methods of utilization. I, for one, expect to see it used often in sauces where color becomes almost as important as flavor. In our Instagram generation, it never hurts to pay attention to the aesthetics.

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July 15th, 2019

Plant Based Meats Hit the Bigs

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Vegetables

Big Players Join the Plant-Based Meat Movement

Plant Based Meats

In our last blog we discussed the proliferation of plant-based meats, along with the new clean/cell-based meat technology. We covered the big players in those arenas and the popularity of their products through growth and national menu acceptance.

This week we’re going to piggyback on that topic by looking at some of the bigger international players looking to break into the plant-based meat market. The most notable names in this category include Tyson, Nestle, and Hormel.

Plant-Based Meats Go Prime Time

Tyson

Tyson Foods crafted their empire through chicken and poultry but have proven repeatedly to be willing to change. From bacon to dog treats, sausages to meal kits, Tyson is no stranger to exploration. Which is why it should come as no surprise that they’ve begun the development of their own plant-based protein brand, Raised & Rooted.

Plant based proteins

Image courtesy of foodnavigator-usa.com

Using blends of pea protein powder and other plant-based ingredients, Tyson looks to gain a strong foothold through diverse product development. Foods included in this category are chicken nuggets, blended burgers (which will include Angus beef), and a mix of sausages and meatballs under the Aidell’s brand name. The vegan nuggets are expected in stores this summer while the blended burgers are slated for fall, 2019.

In support of these products, Tyson is working with and investing in many plant-based protein startups in order to gain an edge in the flavor race. One such company is MycoTechnolgy, the developer of a mushroom-based product called PureTaste. PureTaste is a clean label product designed to” clean up the taste profile of plant-based proteins.”

Nestlé Sweet Earth

meat alternatives

Image courtesy of foodnavigator-usa.com

Instead of undergoing their own infrastructure change, Nestlé purchased Sweet Earth, a plant-based protein producer, in 2017. While the agreement left original owners Kerry and Brian Swette in charge of operations, they actively receive support from Nestlé USA Foods Division.

Sweet Earth has gained quite the cult following in California with their craveable breakfast burritos and flavorful veggie burgers. Their partnership with Nestlé offers them immediate national distribution, marketing support, and trusted brand recognition. This year they intend to launch a new wave of products including the “Awesome Burger,” and its ground beef component, “Awesome Grounds.” A higher percentage of protein and fiber sets Sweet Earth products apart from their competition.

Hormel

Plant-based protein

Hormel is entering this market a bit more timidly than the other players. The initial offering will be a plant-based pizza topping (with little more description than that) focusing on the food service market. They’ve also recently introduced the “Fuse Burger,” a blend of turkey and rice, and the “Blend Burger” under the Applegate brand. The “Blend Burgers” feature a mix of meats and mushrooms.

No word on whether Hormel will investigate further plant-based meat options, but it’s clear they are monitoring the situation with a focus on restaurant applications.

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July 1st, 2019

Meat Alternatives – A New Normal?

Posted in Food Trends, Product Innovation

Could the new generation of meat alternatives win over even carnivores?

Plant-based Proteins

Plant-based proteins, clean meats, and other meat alternatives continue to evolve in the world of culinary innovation. A handful of imaginative companies have progressed this category so far that it’s caught the attention of larger food manufacturers, distributors, and restaurants looking to get a slice.

Even national restaurant brands are taking notice, including meat alternatives on national menu rollouts. Let’s look at a few leaders in this category and see if meat alternatives could become the new normal.

Plant-Based Proteins

Impossible Foods

Impossible Burger

Photo courtesy of Medium.com

For those not familiar with Impossible Foods, maker of the Impossible Burger, you might recognize their original shtick: A plant-based burger that seems to bleed like a beef burger using vegetable heme. While this concept was somewhat repulsive to vegans and vegetarians, and a novelty with omnivores, the brand earned its staying power with how delicious the product is.

The new focus has been on removing allergens to increase the consumer base. As of 2019 Impossible Foods has reformulated the product in order to remove wheat, making it now vegan and gluten-free. It does, however, still contain soy. This step makes the brand much more accessible and attractive for national menu roll outs.

Meat Alternatives

Photo courtesy of ImpossibleFoods.com

This fact is further exemplified by their newly announced relationship with Little Caesars. As of May 20th, Little Caesars will be testing a meatless pizza topped with Impossible Sausage crumbles in 58 restaurants including Washington State, New Mexico, and Florida. If initial customer feedback is positive, we could see a national launch shortly after. You can also find Impossible products at Red Robin, Dave & Buster’s, QDOBA, Bar Louie, Burger King and more.

Beyond Meat

Photo Courtesy of BeyondMeat.om

Photo Courtesy of BeyondMeat.om

Beyond Meat is another brand that has effectively matched the flavor and texture of meat with their plant-based products. While Beyond also produces a burger patty, they differentiate themselves with a line of sausages. Available in Traditional Bratwurst and Hot Italian Links, Beyond Sausages have proved to be a true crowd pleaser in testing, focus groups, and at food shows. I can attest to the food show craze, having to wait in a line 30 people deep to get a taste of the Traditional Bratwurst. Worth it.

Beyond has also managed to expand into food service on a national scale. Their products are available at places like TGI Friday’s, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, Burger Fi, and A&W. With their ever-growing list of accolades, including consecutive FABI awards in 2017 and 2018, there’s no doubt we’ll see continued innovation from, and interest in, Beyond Meat products.

Clean Meats

Clean meat, which is also referred to as “cultured meat,” is produced through cellular replication. Why this may seem like off-putting science fiction, the truth is it’s likely to be not only indistinguishable from natural meat, but more affordable. Best of all, this meat be can produced without hormones and antibiotics.

Meat Alternatives

Photo courtesy of MosaMeat.com

While these products aren’t currently on the market, it’s valuable to look ahead and see what kind of potential they could become in a rapidly changing market space.

Memphis Meats

Meat Alternatives

Photo Courtesy of MemphisMeats.com

Launched in 2015, Memphis Meats is a pioneer in clean meat production. They’ve been striving to bring the cost of clean meat production down in order to make it fiscally competitive against natural meats.

In 2016 Memphis created the world’s first cell-based meatball, and in 2017 the world’s first cell-based poultry. In a sign of future expectation, Cargill, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson have all invested in Memphis Meats.

Mosa Meats

Clean Meat

Image courtesy of MosaMeat.com

Creators of the first slaughter-free hamburger in 2013 (at a whopping $330,000), Mosa Meat endeavors to not only create affordable cell-based meats alternatives, but also reduce animal slaughter worldwide. Mosa expects to have its first meats on the market in the next 3-4 years, which would show a remarkably fast increase in efficiency.

The process of development is described as being the same process animals use to create meat, only outside the animal. The cells “naturally” proliferate and do so without the need for additives or GMOs. Not only have they successfully produced muscle fiber, but they’ve also produced fat cells, which we know is extremely important for taste and mouthfeel.

What’s Driving Meat Alternatives?

Many components are driving the want for meat alternatives. Health factors play a large role, both in increasing the amount of vegetables consumed and decreasing the volume of meat consumed. For the clean meat alternatives, environmental and ethical concerns are the largest driving factors. Specifically, the reduction of carbon gas emissions, deforestation, and factory farms utilizing inhumane practices.

Regardless of the motivating factors, meat alternatives will continue to grow in interest and popularity.

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June 17th, 2019

MATS Technology – A New Wave of Innovation

Posted in Product Innovation, R&D Technology

MATS technology could be the next game changer in packaged foods

MATS technology

Photo courtesy of foodnavigator-asia.com

Microwave assisted thermal sterilization, or MATS technology, could be the next big wave of innovation to hit packaged food. It promises to preserve the nutrients, color, texture and flavor of foods — while providing a shelf life equivalent to conventionally processed foods.

This seems like a pretty lofty goal, but it might be closer to a reality than we think. Let’s take a look at the MATS technology and how it might help to change the landscape of packaged foods as we know them.

What is MATS

MATS MAPS

Photo courtesy of foodnavigator-asia.com

As stated above, MATS stands for “microwave assisted thermal sterilization.” 915 Labs, the exclusive developer of this technology, believes it can solve one of the most ardent challenges facing the food industry today: providing consumers with high quality, natural, and additive-free packaged foods. On paper this seems great, but how exactly does it work?

MATS technology immerses packaged food in pressurized hot water while simultaneously heating with microwave energy at a frequency of 915 megahertz. Unlike retort processing, MATS can eliminate pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in a matter of minutes, rather than hours. As we know, the longer food is cooked under high heat and pressure the more it degrades the color, flavor, and nutrient bioavailability.

You could see then, how if MATS can deliver on its promise, our expectations of shelf-stable foods could change dramatically.

What About Pasteurization?

Clean Label Preservation

Conveniently enough, MATS units also provide microwave assisted pasteurization technology (MAPS) without any additional equipment.  This results in restaurant-quality, ready-to-eat foods and beverages with a shelf life of up to 12 weeks.

The extended shelf-life for the likes of prepared foods and ready-to-eat meals, beverages, vegetables, fruits, dips, sauces and salsas means less waste, higher quality, and greater availability. This can become especially important in food desserts, where convenience stores and bodegas serve as the primary grocery centers for a large population.

What Other Benefits Can MATS/MAPS Offer

Aside from increased quality and shelf-life, the technology can also assist in the clean label mission. By extending shelf-life through mechanical means, MATS can reduce the amount of preservatives and flavor enhancers needed to make packaged foods safer and tastier. Think of needing less sugar, salt, and artificial flavors in foods because the natural flavors haven’t been cooked out.

bowl-cherries-chicken-936611

These benefits could also parlay into school food programs, nursing homes, cafeterias, and meal kit enterprises.

What’s Next for MATS Technology?

E-commerce providers like Amazon, Alibaba, and Jet are especially interested in this technology as they try to break into the prepared foods market. The ability to create high-quality, shelf-stable meals that are safe to eat for 12 months plays directly into their supply chain strengths.

The interest from these companies in MATS technology is not passive. Amazon was an early investor in 915 Labs for use in its AmazonFresh brand. Many observers are connecting its interest in this technology with the acquisition of Whole Foods markets. The digital and brick-and-mortar avenues could offer Amazon a large advantage in the distribution of ready-to-eat and meal kit foods.

AmazonFresh

Photo courtesy of IMD.org

The U.S. Military has also been a long supporter of MATS technology as a way to provide more nutrient dense, portable meals as a replacement for the classic MRE (meal ready to eat).

Summary

As MATS/MAPS technology continues to merge into the packaged food realm, we need to be ready for the potentials that come along with it. Consumers have driven the demand for clean label options, along with healthier foods. MATS could be the bridge that brings fresh tasting, long lasting, healthier foods to shelves and refrigerators nationwide. It’s important that packaged food producers become intimately acquainted with the technology as consumer demand could soon drive a global change in quality expectations.

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June 3rd, 2019

What’s the Story with Za’atar?

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Product Innovation

Za’atar makes waves with vibrant flavors

Za'atar

Za’atar continues to grow aggressively in popularity throughout the country, but it’s still far from well known. Currently early in the adoption stage, za’atar has, however, been featured heavily in culinary and lifestyle magazines.

You can hear all about za’atar in publications like Specialty Food Magazine, Fine Cooking, and even the Boston Globe. But what’s all the fuss about? What makes za’atar so special?

Let’s check it out.

What is Za’atar?

Za’atar is both a Middle Eastern herb that’s very rare and almost never exported (so you likely won’t find any here in the states) and a spice blend. For the purposes of this blog, when we refer to za’atar it’s the spice blend we speak of.

Za'atar

You can find za’atar in dried (most common), oil-based (more common), and fresh (least common) formats in most grocery stores. Za’atar is usually made from a mixture of spices like oregano, marjoram, thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. There are many different styles, like chimichurri, but some combination of the previously listed ingredients is always present.

What’s it Good With?

This is really what makes za’atar special. Its flavor profile can adapt to lots of different cuisines and applications. It works as a dry rub, marinade, sauce, salad dressing, finishing spice, salsa, snack topping, or pretty much any other application you can imagine.

Its Middle Eastern heritage finds it most commonly applied to items like hummus, lamb, and vegetable salads, but this pigeonholes its versatility. I find za’atar equally delicious on proteins like chicken or tofu, on crackers, cheese, and even fruit like pears and apples.

Za'atar

The point is, za’atar has a friendly, exciting flavor that plays well with many other foods.

How Can I Take Advantage of Za’atar?

Well, that of course depends on what you’re in the business of making. Try chicken wings with spicy za’atar sauce, or a zesty pizza made with za’atar marinara. A citrus za’atar glaze goes great on chicken or pork, or a fire roasted green chile and za’atar smothered bison burger.

Whatever you decide, you can rest assured za’atar will grab the curiosity of your guests with its unique, vibrant blend of flavors.

Cheers!

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May 20th, 2019

Time to Adopt Hatch Green Chiles

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Grocery

Hatch Green Chile on the Cusp of Proliferation

Hatch Green Chile Trend

Hatch green chiles are quickly making their way out of the Southwest and onto menus nationally. This smoky, not too spicy pepper currently maintains a massive following in the Southern and Western states. You can find Hatch chile festivals in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and California, among others.

In fact, Texas-based Central Market grocery stores celebrate Hatch green chiles with a month of Hatch infused products. You can find everything from salsa and sandwiches, to Hatch lemonade and cream cookies.

That’s all well and good for this segment of the country, but what does it mean for the rest of the states?

Hatch Some Love

According to Nation’s Restaurant News and Datassential, Hatch chiles are currently in the Adoption stage on a national level. Therefore, the flavor is gaining popularity, but is still considered unique enough to be trendy. Independent casual dining and progressive fast casual restaurants tend to pick up the trends in this stage.

This is best evidenced by the 97% increase in menu mentions nationally over the last 4 years. Taco Bueno capitalized on the trend last year with its Hatch green chile menu. Other restaurants like Habit Burger, BJ’s Brewpub, and Chuy’s Mexican Restaurants also maintain Hatch green chile builds on their menus regularly.

Time to Pepper in Some Flavor

While it’s difficult to estimate the time between adoption and proliferation, it’s safe to say that Hatch chiles will be in adoption soon, and if the current trends predict the future, ubiquity shortly after. It would be smart to jump on this train as soon as possible.

Hatch Green Chile

Photo courtesy of Chuys.com

There’s no easier way than with a bright and smoky salsa or a Hatch chile concentrate for mixing into creams, aiolis, and other sauces. There’s an endless amount of possibilities once you get your imagination rolling. Personally, I think a Hatch chile ice cream sounds pretty darn good, how about you?

Comment below with your favorite Hatch recipes or questions about this blog.

Cheers!

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May 6th, 2019

New Pizza Flavor Opportunities

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Pizza

Fast-Casual is Driving New Pizza Flavor Ideas

New Pizza Flavors

Due to its worldwide ubiquity, we are always searching for new pizza flavor ideas. Thanks to the rise in fast-casual pizza restaurants, with their lower price point and menu flexibility, experimentation is becoming expected.

With that expectation, it’s important for pizza flavor trendsetters to forecast ahead of the curve and try new things. So, what kinds of flavors should pizza restaurants be experimenting with? How about…

Regional

One big way to attract excitement in your local market is with regional flavor ideas. Restaurants along the BBQ belt should be experimenting with different BBQ sauce-based pizzas. It’s important to maintain popular trends within this category, however. Spicy, smoky, bourbon-based, and chile specific (i.e. ancho chile BBQ sauce), are great ways to tack on unique twists. Build that up with exciting new toppings like pulled pork, brisket, pickles, or fried jalapenos.

Pizza Flavor Trends

New York still reigns as the Buffalo chicken capital of the country, and with no end in sight for the love of spice, why not double down? How about a Buffalo chicken pizza made with buffalo sauce infused queso, or Buffalo caramelized onions for a sweet heat mix? Even changing up proteins can go a long way. Buffalo ground beef with a creamy blue cheese drizzle could be a way to reinvigorate the customer base.

Breakfast

Breakfast Pizza Flavor Trends

Breakfast is all the rage right now, and breakfast pizzas are an easy way to harness this trend. Try a shakshuka pizza made with a spicy harissa and roasted tomato sauce topped with feta, kalamata olives, and crispy onions. Or go fusion with a zesty Piri Piri chili sauce, smoky Spanish chorizo sausage, and sweet bell pepper.

Or go all-American with a hash brown pizza topped with sriracha ketchup, grated cheddar cheese, and thick cut bacon. Finish it with a little green onion and you’ve got a winner!

Exotic

If you really want to try a wild card go for a more exotic build. A Korean BBQ pizza made with gochujang sauce, candied pork belly, and fresh bok choy will challenge palates and perceptions. Or if you’re looking for something smokier, how about a guajillo chile sauce topped with sliced Andouille sausage, pickled red onion, and some fresh cilantro.

Pizza Flavors

Personally, I’m a fan of a good Indian red curry pizza with fire grilled chicken, thick cut yellow onion, a drizzle of citrus yogurt sauce, and a dash of fresh mint. If you’re looking for a fresh take on a classic, try this Hawaiian/Mexican hybrid. Al Pastor style pulled pork, tangy pickled pineapple, Hawaiian Kona coffee sauce, and fire-roasted red peppers.

The World is Yours!

Literally! Global flavors are the driving force for current food trends. Finding ways to introduce international flavors into familiar builds will go a long way in staying current. The uniform love for pizza makes it the perfect medium for flavor experimentation, especially in the fast-casual arena.

Cheers!

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