Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Flavor at Work Business & Industry innovation shines a spotlight on an evolving consumer

Variety and wellness are the focus in B&I menu development. Aramark delivers with dishes like Chicken & Grape Power Salad, Pumpkin Curry Vegetable Sauté and Harvest Kale Salad.
PHOTO CREDIT: aramark

Beneficial Beverages

Consumers everywhere are moving away from sugar-based drinks to healthier beverages, and they’re bringing along high standards. From juice bars to coffee bars, diners in the B&I segment want what’s trending and wholesome, and basic just doesn’t cut it anymore.

In the last year, BMS has added more than 100 multi-faceted coffee machines to breakrooms in its five Connecticut and central New Jersey locations.

Diane Pancoski, associate VP of marketing at Aramark, says its clients have canned cold coffees, infused waters, cold-pressed juices and even kombucha on tap.

At Adobe in San Jose, the coffee bar offers espresso drinks, matcha green tea lattes, pour-over coffees and specialty coffees like Japanese-style iced coffee, which achieves maximum flavor by brewing double-strength coffee with hot water over ice cubes.

B&I cafeterias are using aguas frescas and infused waters to innovate in the beverage category. Adobe has offered cantaloupe- and lime juice-infused water, and Peter Klein, director of culinary development at CulinArt, cites cinnamon- and orange-infused water among client offerings.

Terri Brownlee, Bon Appétit’s director of nutrition and wellness, says Bon Appétit has made aguas frescas a standard offering at client cafés; employees can count on three or four versions daily.

Substantial Snacks

Now that snacking is an established part of most Americans’ daily routine, providing wholesome choices that fuel employees becomes an expectation. But the trend here, as in all of foodservice, sees flavor as an imperative.

Tony Morro of Sodexo’s JLL says nuts and trail mixes that combine nuts and fruit are on the rise, especially in bulk dispensers that reduce waste and cut costs. Aramark’s Pancoski also sees a rise in nut consumption but says, “It’s not just an almond anymore, it’s a smoked almond or a Sriracha almond.” Olives and pickles are also enjoying expansion and innovation, driven by flavor pairings that elevate the snack’s craveability and satiety.

While the afternoon trip to the vending machine for a candy bar may be waning, employers are remixing desserts with a healthy, purposeful twist to satisfy the sweet tooth. AVI’s LaRocca points to caffeinated chocolates as a rising trend in snacking among his clients, while Sodexo has developed 100-calorie cookies made with quinoa, flax and nuts to deliver indulgence with a wholesome twist.

B&I has become a dynamic segment reflecting many of today’s overarching menu trends. This segment is also crystallizing how important it is to respond to changing habits and preferences of modern consumers.

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About The Author

Laura Brienza

Laura Brienza is the author of "Discovering Vintage Washington, D.C.", and "New York’s Historic Restaurants, Inns & Taverns." She is a recent winner of the Lifetime Writers Project fellowship and lives in Los Angeles.