U.S. Appetizer Trends: Understanding consumer and foodservice operator consumption and wants for appetizers and finger foods including specific varieties, Latin-inspired, Asian-inspired, fried veggies, sauces, and flavors

Mar 2015| MDK032A| Datassential

Report Highlights

85% of all restaurants offer appetizers, not including salads and soups.

The average price of an appetizer at full service restaurants has grown faster than the cumulative rate of inflation (8.6%)1.

Garlic bread tops the list as the most loved meal starter. Other familiar finger foods including chicken wings, French fries, and shrimp cocktail are consumer favorites.

Top of mind appetizers are predominantly hot offerings consumed away from home. Hot appetizers may be appealing or indulgent choices away from home for consumers who forgo these same items at home, particularly fried items.

Each week, nearly half of Americans eat an appetizer during the week.

Appetizer consumption centers around dinner. However, appetizers are a consideration during lighter meal parts such as lunch or in-between meals, where appetizers are perhaps a light meal or snack.

Many operators are brand-conscious of popular appetizers that may be signature or high-volume items, particularly chicken products and seafood.

Controlling food costs is the greatest challenge to selling appetizers. With operators indicating their average appetizer food cost at 31%, on par with entrée costs, operators are challenged with increasing sales and reducing waste, a particularly difficult task with cost conscious consumers and those who don’t have a large enough appetite for an appetizer.

MenuTrends Keynotes combine the extensive detail of MenuTrends with the opinions and behaviors of over 1,000 consumers nationwide and insights from hundreds of operators from Datassential's OPERA panel, the industry's largest with over 30,000 restaurant, retail and on-site operators.

Details on the current appetizer landscape – what types of appetizers are consumers eating and how are they eating them at-home and away-from-home (types, motivations, meal part, and frequency)

Appetizer drivers and barriers both at-home and away from home – also includes motivations, selection criteria, and flavor affinity

Operator usage detail – which products and formats operators are using and brand importance of those appetizer items

Extensive menu detail – covers top appetizer varieties, Latin apps, Asian apps, fried vegetables, unique appetizers, and popular appetizer sauces: menu adoption cycles for each type, with fastest growing ingredients and flavors

Flavor deep dives – extensive detail on top trends by segment, region, generation and more. Also includes appetizer MegaTrends, seasonal flavors, and a spotlight on trending ingredients

Appetizer Opportunities – product and innovations for foodservice and retail appetizer consumption

Datassential, a Chicago-based food industry research and consulting firm, brings clients real-world information on foodservice and consumer packaged goods in the U.S. and around the world. The company’s services, including its extensive MenuTrends database, provide in-depth reporting on trends in menu offerings, flavor profiles, ingredients and preparations. Datassential helps operators, retailers, and suppliers understand and capitalize on these important trends.

Datassential makes the food industry smarter. We provide trend software, predictive analytics, and consumer insights that help manufacturers, food retailers, and chain restaurants innovate and sell more intelligently.

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