Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Flavor & The Menu Contributors
January 13, 2021

With more big/reputable brands stepping into this area, we could see consumers trying more plant-based dairy options. Coffee-based beverages and cocktails are the low-hanging fruit here, but there are many more options for innovation with plant-based dairy.

People want to feel good about what they put in their bodies, as well as what is good for the environment. This trend provides operators the opportunity to audit their menus to allow for better choices for their consumers’ wellness initiatives. ADAM MOORE

Plant-based milks are abundant—walnut, soy, almond, oat, pea and more—and can easily be used in milk-based desserts like crème brûlée, ice cream or milkshakes.

The opportunity is to bring these products and their cultured counterparts into the mainstream and even animal-based cuisine. It is a bit like how people initially saw tofu—as a vegetarian/vegan alternative to meat. However, this denied it being seen as an ingredient with gustatory merit. When viewed through this lens, plant-based dairy products have significantly more potential for culinary inspiration.

The plant-based lifestyle has become deeply rooted in menu development, so it makes sense that dairy products would be targeted for innovation. Beyond milks, look to the same innovation and acceptance with yogurt and cheese alternatives. Plant-based dairy needn’t be a vegan callout, as these items are becoming mainstream and have appeal to all consumer demographics.

This trend will bring many great products to the market, as producing amazing vegan cheese can be tricky. A sauce base or a spread is a great way to use soft-style vegan cheese.

All operators should have a portion of their menu for plant-based options to appeal to both flexitarian and vegan diners. And a restaurant that can execute a great vegan cheese program has a foundation that can be built upon. Operators don’t necessarily need to educate here; they just need to impress the taste buds.