Unique flavors keep diners coming back

by Bryan Salvage
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CHICAGO — Forty-two percent of consumers, particularly males aged 25 to 34, are more likely to visit restaurants that offer new or unique flavors, according to a new study from foodservice industry consultant Technomic titled "2009 Flavor Consumer Trend Report."

Other study highlights include:

  • Sixty-six percent of consumers said discovering a new flavor at a restaurant can persuade them to return to that venue for the same dish, and 55% said they might try other dishes there;
  • Thirty-six percent of diners said they are more interested in trying new flavors than they were a year ago;
  • Thirty-five percent of consumers are willing to spend more on a meal that incorporates new or innovative flavors;
  • Ethnic cuisines of high interest include Spanish (72%), Hawaiian (71%), Tex-Mex (69%), Greek (66%), and Caribbean and Mediterranean (66% and 62%, respectively);
  • Approximately one-third of consumers look for sauces and condiments low in fat or calories (34%) and sodium (29%), or prefer to use "organic" or "all-natural" condiments when available (26%);
  • Garlic, pepper and smoky barbecue flavor profiles dominate entrée menus; and
  • Global influences are also prominent, specifically those with a Mexican, Asian and Italian flair.

The study was designed to identify opportunities for restaurant operators and suppliers and help them differentiate their menus to attract new patrons and increase frequency of current customers. It covers flavors created during food preparation, as well as those added through sauces, dips and condiments. Individual flavor profiles are explored, as is how they relate to major entrée categories (sandwiches, pork, seafood, etc.), appetizers, snacks and more.

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