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Forty percent of consumers say they are more willing to visit a restaurant that offers new and/or innovative flavors, according to the new Technomic 2015 Flavor Consumer Trend Report. Though classic flavors still appeal, consumers are increasingly driven to experiment with foods and beverages with unique flavor profiles.

Technomic research shows that heightened interest in new tastes has accelerated the time in which many spices, ingredients or preparation methods go from "emerging" to "mainstream." As the variety of flavor offerings increases, consumers become desensitized to new and unique flavors more quickly. To meet demand for new flavors and maintain customers' interest, it will be critical that operators and suppliers stay ahead of flavor trends.

"Restaurants trying to plan a menu launch and marketing campaign around the next big thing might find themselves too far behind a trend and risk becoming another 'me-too' concept," explains Kelly Weikel, Technomic director of consumer insights. "To get credit with consumers for innovation, operators can leverage Technomic insights to catch emerging flavors early in their lifecycle and ride their rise in popularity.

"Flavor research can also help ensure the right variety of new and mainstream tastes—in the right combinations—that make the menu a consistent crowd-pleaser."

Compiling findings from more than 1,500 U.S. consumers, as well as operator interviews and Technomic's MenuMonitor and Digital Resource Library, the Flavor Consumer Trend Report also reveals:

  • 40% of all consumers and 52% of Millennials say they would like more restaurants to offer foods that feature a combination of flavors
  • At limited-service restaurants (LSRs), 63% of consumers are very likely to try new flavors at sandwich restaurants, 62% at pizza and 62 % at Mexican LSRs. When visiting a full-service restaurant (FSR), 69% are likely to try new flavors at varied-menu restaurants, followed by 67% at Italian and 66% at steak FSRs
  • Grape is the fastest-growing lunch and dinner entrée flavor at Top 500 restaurants (16% operator incidence increase), followed by buttermilk (10%) and cilantro (9%).