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Fi Europe 2021

Keeping track of emerging flavour trends [Interview]

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Independent restaurants, chains, and ingredients suppliers need to keep a track of dining habits and anticipate emerging food trends to fully meet consumer expectations. Lizzy Freier, Director of Menu Research & Insights at Technomic, discusses how data analysis can give food service businesses a cutting edge.
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How have dining habits evolved over the past decade or so?

“Dining habits are constantly evolving, being driven by various factors within the environment we live, as well as the consumers themselves. For example, the needs and behaviours of Gen Z consumers are very different from Baby Boomers.”

“One area of the industry where we’ve seen extensive growth is around the off-premise space. The technological capabilities for ordering takeout or delivery have evolved greatly in the past decade, and it’s become table stakes with most restaurants to offer off-premise capabilities. That has only grown further amidst the pandemic in the past year and a half.”

What emerging trends should we be watching out for?

“Plant-based is one trend to watch right now — both in food and beverage. We’re seeing this category being adopted quickly by top chain restaurants, but new products are constantly being innovated at the supply chain level and new applications are constantly being innovative at the restaurant level.”

What can food manufacturers and ingredient companies do to keep on top of emerging trends?

“Staying on top of emerging trends requires you to have data, both historical as well as current, and Technomic also delivers predictive data, which is a win all around. You need data around both menus and consumers to understand where menu trends are headed.”

How can Technomic help?

“Technomic is a Chicago-based research and consulting firm dedicated to sharing data, content and recommended actions on all aspects of the food industry. My expertise lies in menu data, so as the Director of Menu Research & Insights, I am in charge of managing the data that runs through our Ignite Menu tool and the analysis around that data.”

“Our Ignite Menu tool is an interactive online dashboard that houses menus from over 30 000 restaurants, allowing our clients to do studies on menu gap analyses, delve into regional flavour trends, track limited-time offers from top chain restaurants, and readily download and share data.”

How is this data collected and analysed?

“There are a number of ways in which Technomic menu data stands out. Our extensive breadth of coverage for one, with the more than 30 000 menus tracked for more than 15 years on a quarterly basis, to capture seasonal trends. We have two-year predictive trend capabilities that include seasonality as well. We have monthly limited-time offer tracking capabilities and concept testing data included with our full menu subscription, featuring monthly consumer ratings of public limited-time offers based on purchase intent, craveability, and more. Plus, we have a dedicated team of food and beverage menu collectors, driven by consistency, accuracy and relevance.”

“Understanding the ‘why’ behind the data and the trends helps us better gather information about the restaurant industry as a whole and helps us predict where we may be going.”

What key lessons do you hope participants take away from your presentation?

“I hope participants can walk away truly understanding the importance of flavour innovation from a consumer perspective. I will delve into consumer data around this in particular. I’ll also cover emerging flavour trends, which I think will allow the audience to walk away with some thought-provoking ideas for their business in the years ahead.”

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