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AUGUST 23, 2019

7 Flavor Finds At 2019 Flavor Experience

tony treadway

Creative Energy Flavor Experience

There is always something that’s just over the horizon in flavor for restaurant chains during the Flavor Experience in Newport Beach, CA. We’ve been there for a decade assisting our client, Texas Pete®, win new relationships with chain decision-makers. The gathering mixes experts with the latest trends and techniques with top chain menu developers to get a leg up on what’s next in winning menus.

Creative Energy was at the 2019 event, and here are our top flavor finds:

  1. Move over Millennials, Gen Z’s are here – They are 13–26 years old, and they are now the focus for understanding their behaviors and favorite flavors. News alert. They are stingy with their money and less prone to dine in compared to Millennials. They seek functional foods with smoothies and fruit flavors their favorites. Guess what. In a few years, they will comprise 20% of the population (of which 47% are ethnic) so menus will move in their direction.

  2. Middle Eastern, Modern French… Okonomyaki and Kushari? – That’s right, the fascination with ethnic entrees continues, but there’s a movement toward mash-ups. Harissa-flavored bowls, burgers, salads and snacks using grains found in North Africa and the Middle East. French mash-ups with a reliance on eggs atop breads in cream sauce or garlic mayo. Okonomyaki is a Japanese cabbage-based pancakes and a dish called Kushari – bowls of pasta, rice and lentils topped with a spicy tomato sauce from Egypt.

  3. The Old Fashioned and Fruity-Flavored Bar Drinks – Maker’s Mark says it’s 46 Whiskey was made for the resurgence of Old Fashioned’s, and Gen Z’s are driving bizarre bar drinks such as Twizzler Strawberry Coolers, Jolly Rancher Margarita’s and Toki Highballs (Red Bull + Vodka). Oh, and Heineken Zero is the new rage among non-alcohol beers. Gen Z’s are also more into domestic than craft beers to save money!

  4. Flavor Experience Entree Samples

  5. Delivery Is Driving Massive Change – Like “cloud kitchens” where entrepreneurs are delivering more than five brands of pizza with no chain affiliation and out of the same kitchen using some advertising and a mobile pay delivery app. They are the exact same pizza people—but the upscale brand can cost $3 more. By the way, news broke new numbers on the percentage of third-party delivery drivers are eating out of their deliveries. A new poll shows 30% of drivers admit to taking food from their orders. As a result, a new US Foods consumer survey says 85% of delivery customers want tamper-evident packaging.

  6. Look for Better Butter – We just experienced a delicious butter mixed with sea salt and honey. Look for chains to upscale their breads from a free giveaway to fill you up before the meal to an upcharge drive by better butters. Also, keep an eye out for Kara, a coconut jam for bread, pancakes and waffles.


  7. Flavor Experience Food Tasting

  8. It Boils Down to Like & Love Menu Items – Top spenders who are most likely to visit restaurants are Boomers and Millennials. The trick is to serve up menu items that one demographic loves and the other, at least, likes. Because Millennials are now reaching the age of children… and many Boomers are the grandparents of these kids, chains are targeting dining occasions where the three generations meet at a restaurant for a meal. For example, sushi is loved by Millennials and mostly O.K. for a Boomer so a sushi-forward menu might work for a night out. Other examples are Churros, up 30% on menus in the past few years, because everyone loves these Mexican handheld desserts and loaded fries, up 24%.

  9. Is It A Fad Or A Trend? – That was the subject of a conference breakout session because the stakes are high in winning menus. Likely the most important exercise, the trick is determining if the item addresses one of five megatrends: convenience, value, nutritional health and wellness, personalization or experiential. We have a great chart from the session by Datassentials if you would like to try the exercise.

Another great event where the top minds in the business shared their secrets to menu success. We are experts in putting a mind behind a menu, and if you are interested in how we can leverage a winning strategy, contact us.   

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