With the UK fast food industry set to recover by 86% of its 2019 value by the end of year, fast food is set to be one of the fastest recovering channels in the out of home market.* Growth can be seen in capabilities to offer takeaway and delivery options but this month we delve deeper into the quick serve restaurant category to discover which QSR trends are now popular on menus and which trends you should watch out for in the future.
As a nation we love fast food, anything from burgers, hot dogs and fries will always be popular as they bring us comfort. However, as consumers are now being more adventurous with their tastebuds, there is now the opportunity to add elements of luxury to quick serve menus, this will satisfy consumers keen to try something new and create a new eating experience.
How to premiumize:
Cooking techniques and claims on menus bring more luxury into the everyday kitchen. With BBQ techniques proving popular during lockdown, it is clear this trend is here to stay. Chefs should try chargrilling or slow roasting their meats.
Provenance of ingredients is also key, highlighting this on menus adds an evermore premium feel. Operators should try calling out named breeds of meats, such as, Wagyu burgers or Aberdeen Angus, or other specific varieties of fresh produce. Not only does this add a special call out, it gives customers an understanding of where the food they are consuming has come from, thus being more transparent- honesty is the best policy.
Accessible yet luxury ingredients are proving to be a smash hit in the kitchen. By this I mean ingredients that were previously seen as premium are now being seen in new formats to make them more accessible. Truffle is the perfect example of this, e.g. truffle mayonnaise or truffle pasta.
The plant based trend is here to stay!
With Veganuary right around the corner and the continual rise of veganism, due to more consumers now changing their eating habits to incorporate plant based food options through environmental concerns, it is no surprise that the quick serve category has responded to this demand. Many outlets are now offering at least one plant-based option on their menus, providing an offering for all consumers to enjoy.
What we are seeing:
Plant Based Collabs: McDonalds vegan burger is co-developed with Beyond Meat plant based company. KFC has released a Quorn Vegan Burger made with Quorn’s vegan fillet. Major brands are pairing up with plant based companies to deliver their plant based offerings, using their knowledge and skills to help succeed in a new category. Don’t forget to have a vegan bun to match your plant based offerings, Kara’s Brioche Style Bun is great for all menus, tastes like a butter brioche but without the dairy (shameless sales plug)
Alternative Milks: As well as plant based meats, alternative milks are just as important. Oat and soya milks are the most well known and have been available for some time, however, new players are starting to trend with the likes of potato milk and barley milk- have you tried these milks yet?
Switching Up The Buns
Over the past year we have seen menus shift with operators now looking to change up their bread carriers. The traditional sesame seed and brioche bun are still a menu staple but, fast food operators are incorporating seasonal breads into their limited time menu offerings; adding some new excitement and creating a special burger or sandwich.
What we are seeing:
It is all about texture. Texture is now just as important as the taste of the bun. Adding seeds, grains or even cheese to the top of the bun increases the visual appeal and makes the bun stand out from the rest.
Taste of Italy: Alternative breads appearing on the market are targeted towards a more premium customer offering. With the nation’s love of Italian cuisine, it’s no surprise that buns with an Italian influence such as ciabatta and focaccia are proving to be hugely popular. Other formats that we predict will be trending throughout QSR next year are Keizer style rolls and pretzel buns.**
By Rachel Curtis, NPD Manager (Foodservice)
*Lumina Intelligence, UK Eating Out Market Report 2021
**Source: The Food People