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Growing your business with starters, small plates and sides


Consumers are on the lookout for interesting, craveable and affordable food they can enjoy anytime.

By Technomic Inc.


With dayparts and mealtimes meshing together, foodservice customers are turning starters into snacks and trendy small plates into full meals.

This new consumer sensibility signals growth avenues for starters, small plates and sides. The flexibility and downsized portion sizes of these items allow them to appeal to a broad base of consumers, suitable for a wide variety of dining occasions.

“There’s great opportunity to drive menu interest via starters, small plates and sides because they’re so versatile,” said Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic, Inc. “These items can deliver add-on sales or can be mixed and matched to function as a meal or a standalone snack. By highlighting the shareable, fun factor of starters, small plates and sides—and using them as platforms for new and unique flavours—operators can promote these offerings as appealing menu differentiators.”

Key findings include:

  • The “shareability” factor matters, especially for starters: 52 per cent of consumers say that their starters are shared.
  • Small plates fit into myriad meal occasions: Consumers say that most small plates are ordered either as starters (38 per cent) or meals (30 per cent).
  • Sides are very influential in consumers’ entrée choices: Nearly half of consumers (49 per cent) say they are less likely to order an entrée if it is served with a side they don’t enjoy, and 26 per cent choose an entrée based on the accompanying side item.
  • Consumers want more unique and ethnic flavours: Innovative and globally inspired flavours play a strong role in starter (31 per cent) and small-plate (35 per cent) purchases.For further information: