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New Takes on Foodservice Favorites

Grocery stores get creative with deli and prepared food classics

Although consumers’ shifting preferences can stump retailers, one constant they can count on is that many shoppers still prefer flavors they’re familiar with. Within grocery stores, this can lead to a bit of a conundrum, as prepared foods departments must cater to consumers of all types: ones who want new and exciting flavors, ones who want flavors they’re used to and ones who want the best of both worlds—new flavors applied to foods they are already familiar with.

New takes on deli classics are providing the perfect intersection of familiar foods updated with contemporary flavors. Consumers tend to be more willing to try new flavors in foods with which they’re already familiar; therefore, foodservice staples such as rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, potato salad, coleslaw and other prepared dishes are being given a facelift in an effort to appeal to today’s consumers.

Diners embrace new takes on traditional fare

One thing that may be driving the shift toward these flavor updates is a growing consumer preference for non-traditional tastes. According to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report, consumers are more interested in “unique” tasting foods. Operators and food retailers alike have turned to broader combination spices and other seasonings and ingredients to rev up the flavor.

For instance, Sriracha and Buffalo sauces are growing, while sides featuring savory flavors such as garlic and onion are on the rise. Similarly, spices such as turmeric, cumin and tarragon are growing on menus as well.

New iterations of foodservice staples also give consumers something exciting to look forward to. For instance, serving macaroni with premium cheeses, such as Stouffer’s® White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese which features 9-month aged Sharp Cheddar; adding in flavor boosters such as jalapeno or bacon; or even turning it into fried mac and cheese bites can tempt customers to try something new.

Similarly, transforming traditional mashed potatoes into loaded mashed potato tater tots or giving them a global twist with trending spices such as za’atar or gochujang can be a way to update an old-fashioned favorite and make it new and exciting again.

Rotisserie chicken, a prepared foods classic, is also a perfect canvas for showcasing new flavors. In fact, 53% of consumers say they would be likely to try a new flavor if it was featured in a chicken dish. One example of a new rotisserie chicken flavor is Publix Deli’s Sweet & Sour Chipotle Rotisserie Chicken, released as an LTO this fall. The item combined ripe pineapple and spiced fruits with a toasted sesame chipotle soy sauce, which played on the growing global flavors trend.

Other flavor innovations are being introduced to prepared chicken wings as well, giving shoppers options outside of classic buffalo sauce. For instance, Minor’s® Korean Style BBQ Sauce adds an ethnic twist to a foodservice favorite.

Menuing tips for updated deli classics

To develop menus that will appeal to customers looking for revamped familiar foods, consider emphasizing multicultural fare. Retailers can consider building a “Worlds of Flavor” promotion featuring entrees and sides that highlight flavors from a different country each week or each month.

Beyond that, retailers can draw inspiration from local restaurant menus and put their own twists on dishes that popular chains or independent restaurants in their area are offering. Regional sandwiches can also be a great way to capitalize on local flavor.

Increased consumer interest in foodservice staples combined with their desire to try out new flavors, means retailers can flex their creativity and offer a multitude of craveable and unique signature dishes to boost prepared foods sales.

This post is sponsored by Nestlé Professional

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