Retail bakery and cafe owners are wise to watch the hottest trends in foodservice. Offering valuable insights, US Foods has identified five key trends for this fall: authentic global flavors, vibrant colors, a celebration of vegetables, New World butchery and fine-dining 2.0. Bake reached out to Stacey Kinkaid, senior director of product development at US Foods, to gain further perspective on key menu development trends on the immediate horizon.
Q: What is the driving force behind the introduction of the Fall Scoop product line?
US Foods is committed to helping chefs and operators “Make It,” and Scoop is a key component of our “Great Food. Made Easy.” strategy. It’s really important for operators to stay current with the latest and greatest food trends if they want to keep customers coming in. The culinary world is constantly evolving, and we are always looking for new ways to help our customers succeed. In Fall Scoop, it’s about making sure chefs have access to the hottest trends to offer on their menus. US Foods identified five trends that we see really driving innovation on menus. These are products that are forward-thinking, yet functional, so our customers can move forward with adding the latest trends to their menus but can also feel confident while doing so.
Q: How do each of the following new products align with significant culinary trends?
Chef’s Line Artisan Chia Ficelle Roll
We created the Chef’s Line Artisan Chia Ficelle Roll using traditional French bread-making techniques to ensure that we’re highlighting authentic French baking in the truest form possible. This is a great item that meets the growing demand for authentic global flavors. Seeds are also another prevalent trend; the roll is flecked with flavorful chia seeds throughout, providing a new twist to this classic French cuisine.
Devonshire Premium Black Raspberry Ombre Cake with Vanilla Icing
Consumers are changing the way they make decisions. In a world that’s dominated by social media, the saying “We eat with our eyes” has never been truer. Bright, vibrant and colorful foods that provide both a visual and sensory thrill are in high demand – think Unicorn Frappuccinos from Starbucks, monstrous “cake shakes” or decadent ice cream cones decorated with colorful cereals. I’m checking Instagram right now, and there are approximately 294 million posts that are tagged #food and are accompanied by bold and eye-popping food photos. This trend of consumers looking for dishes that deliver on taste but also create Instagrammable moments isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The Devonshire Premium Black Raspberry Ombre Cake with Vanilla Icing plays into this trend with four layers of progressively darker-hued black raspberry cake framed by sweet vanilla icing and gem-like sugar beads. It’s eye-catching, serves on-trend flavor and is stunningly sculpted. You can’t help but snap a picture of it!
Chef’s Line Cookie Butter Tart
An interesting trend we’re seeing across the board in the restaurant industry is that more consumers want restaurants that have a casual atmosphere, but that still serve forward-thinking, high-quality food. As a play on this trend, we created the Chef’s Line Cookie Butter Tart, which is inspired by classic ingredients with an elegant twist. It features a flaky all-butter crust filled with decadent speculoos (Belgian spice cookie) cookie butter that can be featured as the main dessert or served as a snack.
Q: What are the inspirations?
Food trends are part art, part science. Identifying trends is definitely about what dishes and ingredients are getting a lot of buzz, but it’s also about timing, availability and knowing our operators’ business needs. We were also inspired by the intersection between food and fashion, which is why we created Fall Scoop under the banner of “Food Runway.” Fashion and food trends have a lot of similarities.
Q: Why is it more important than ever to be distinctive on menus?
Culinary trends are moving faster than ever, driven by social media, online reviews and diner feedback. Consumers also have endless options at their fingertips – menus are readily available on websites, and almost half of consumers check online reviews before deciding to go to a new restaurant (Touch Bistro). Simply put, if you’re not distinctive with your menus, you might not even get that new customer through the door. Fall Scoop brings an assortment of versatile, on-trend products that helps ensure operators stay on the leading edge of dining trends and diner interests.
Q: How does US Foods make their ability to be distinctive on menus all the easier?
We take all the hard work and guessing games out of introducing trends to restaurant menus. The products we develop for Scoop are backed by extensive research to ensure we’re introducing the right trends at the right time. For example, our Devonshire Premium Black Raspberry Ombre Cake with Vanilla Icing is actually four separate cakes that are hand-assembled and decorated. Instead of the operator having to bake four separate cakes, on top of assembling and decorating it, our cake arrives baked, assembled and sliced to help reduce labor and time costs.
Q. What are the hottest ingredients that consumers are really clamoring for?
We’ve seen a trend toward functional ingredients and protein. For example, seeds are on 31% of US menus and have grown at more than 19% over the past four years. Chia seed is showing exceptional growth of 244% (Datassential). This is one of the reasons we decided to add chia seeds to our Chef’s Line Artisan Chia Ficelle Roll. Our ficelle is also a great example of the movement toward traditional baking techniques. Our ficelle, and many of our Chef’s Line breads, include two pre-ferments that are aged for 7-9 hours prior to use, providing superior flavor.
Q. What’s been the response to the new line?
We’ve had great response to the line and the Chef’s Line Cookie Butter Tart has really been one of the stars. We were really excited about these products and designed them to help operators stay on-trend and save the time and labor costs. They continue to surprise us with their creative application uses and feedback. For example, one of our chefs caramelizes the cookie butter tart and tops it with caramel sauce and smoked salt! Their creativity continues to inspire us.