Nancy Kruse understand that differentiation in retail foodservice does not mean different it means familiar. During her presentation she highlighted the current trend in the United States of comfort foods dominating menus here are the top five that she identified:
1. New age stroganoff
In regard to comfort foods, new age stroganoffs are leading the category with menu items such as Noodle's & Company’s Mushroom Stroganoff, Hale & Hearty's Beef Stroganoff Soup and TGI Friday's Prime Rib Stroganoff.
Citing The Meatball Shop in New York City, The menu item is gaining in singular focus and encourages several ethnic spin-offs.
3. Bread Bowls
Not new to the comfort food trend are bread bowls. Used by restaurants across all segments of the industry, images of the menu item convey a message of abundance and comfort, Kruse said. There also is the opportunity for bowls to extend beyond bread, such as Uno Chicago Grill's offering of Golden Pumpkin Soup served in a squash bowl.
4. Melted sandwiches
Next to center-of-the-plate, sandwiches remain the "hot" category on the menu. And culinary innovations in regard to hot sandwich offerings are keeping chains on the cutting edge.
The oatmeal wars are heating up as Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Caribou Coffee and several others are starting to provide this early-morning staple.
Every operator, chain restaurant is different. Nancy Kruse encouraged each to put there own spin on items that are familiar but with a twist to distinguish their menu from everyone else.
I suggest she is right on! Creating or identifying distinctive differentiated food consumable’s as an entity with identity by day part in an area I can excel at. Understanding the unique balance between palate, price, pleasure and the consumer’s drive for qualitative distinctive differentiated new food consumables places me in a select industry grouping. The food value proposition equilibrium for the consumer today balances; better for you, flavor, and traditional products all blended into something with a twist.
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