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Soup and salad will face heightened competition as the definition of health evolves

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Soup and salad consumption has held steady over the past couple of years, as consumers look to these for traditional better-for-you meals and add-ons. However, the number of items classified as “healthy” on leading menus has grown 162.8% in the past five years as other categories seek to steal share of consumers’ increasingly conscientious purchases and broadening definition of health.

by Technomic Inc.

To retain share and even grow, soup and salad players will have to re-establish the healthfulness of soup and salad while innovating to incite cravings and appeal to consumers’ desire for new and unique flavours. “Creating soups and salads that feature natural, ‘clean’ ingredients and hard-to-replicate recipes, such as those containing superfoods or a unique and craveable signature twist, will position these traditional favourites as fresh and healthful yet differentiated,” says Deanna Jordan, manager of consumer insights for Technomic.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Gluten-free and vegetarian are the fastest-growing callouts for the top 200 soups and salads. For salad, gluten-free claims grew 150% and vegetarian grew 42% since 2013.
  • Cravings beat out healthfulness as reasons consumers eat soup and salad; more than half cite cravings as a soup (58%) and salad (55%) driver, while fewer say health spur their soup (29%) and salad (48%) orders.
  • Those who never order soup and salad cite a lack of differentiation, as a quarter who don’t eat soup (24%) and salad (23%) say it’s because they can easily make it at home.

Compiling findings from more than 1,000 consumers, as well as Technomic’s MenuMonitor and Digital Resource Library, the comprehensive 2016 Canadian Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report serves as a guide for foodservice operators and suppliers to understand consumer attitudes toward soup and salad and to identify key areas of opportunity.