The days of throwing some lettuce leaves together, adding a ho-hum dressing, and presenting the green mess as a side dish-afterthought are over. More and more, diners are looking to operators to mix it up, add some excitement, throw on the protein, try some grains and interesting veg. Here are the key trends driving the salad category:
Salads are showing innovation
• Quinoa (+75%) and avocado (+48%) are the fastest growing ingredients on Top 200 FSR salad menus over a two-year period (Operator incidence since 2013).
Salads with proteins are becoming main courses
• Salmon and sirloin are trending up for salad entrées on Top 200 menus
Signature salads are important
• 23% of consumers never order salad because they can easily make it at home, making this the top purchase deterrent. Speaks to the need of uniqueness, differentiation- providing something not easily replicable at home or elsewhere. Also important because salad is widely available, as noted below.
Salads are becoming more popular
• The percentage of consumers who order salad at least sometimes when eating at a restaurant increased slightly from 69% in 2013 to 73% in 2015.
• Salad is the most menued appetizer at Top 200 LSRs, third most menued appetizer at Top 200 FSRs (behind soup and breaded proteins)
Millennials are big salad eaters
• More 18–34 year olds (33%) than older consumers (24%) say they are likely to indulge in other parts of their meal (appetizer, dessert) if they order a salad as their entrée. Younger consumers are also more likely than their older counterparts to consider indulgent salad protein options like bacon, fried chicken and ground beef. Possibly speaks to salad helping consumers indulge in moderation/wanting some nutritional foods but still looking at restaurant visits as a treat
Dressings can make the salad
• 52% of consumers say dressing makes the salad taste good, and consumers prefer housemade dressings to branded dressings nearly two to one.
Source: 2015-16 Canadian Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report, Technomic