Mango Mania: Tropical Fruit Trends Upward on Menus

 
Red Robin's Mango Moscato, made with mango purée, a mainstay ingredient at the brand.
Red Robin's Mango Moscato, made with mango purée, a mainstay ingredient at the brand. Red Robin

The mango is having a moment. Mangos were the sixth fastest-growing fruit on menus in 2013, thanks to consumers’ trending toward healthy dining, as well as their desire to try tropical and global flavors, according to a report by research firm Datassential.

In 2013, mangoes were the ninth most common fruit on menus, popping up on 15.4 percent of restaurant menus. This marks a 14.1 percent increase in menu penetration since 2008, per Datassential. Mangos were most common at independent restaurants, showing up on 18.2 percent of independent menus, and were most often associated with Indian, Caribbean, mixed ethnicity, and Thai cuisines.

Entrees were the most popular applications for mango. Mangos were in 11.8 percent of entrees in 2013, a 16.8 percent increase in penetration from 2008, Datassential found. The study found that mango menu penetration was greatest on menus that were offered all day at a restaurant, versus menus that change with the daypart. All-day menus had a 12.4 percent penetration of mangos on the menu, an increase of 18.1 percent from 2008.

In terms of beverage, mango menu penetration was strongest at chain restaurants, reaching 36.1 percent. The most common uses for mangos in beverages were blended beverages (32.2 percent), margaritas (20.8 percent), mixed alcoholic beverages (17.9 percent), and martinis (11.5 percent), according to the report.

Red Robin’s use of mango is a case in point. The casual dining chain recently announced a Mango Moscato Wine Shake, made with Alice White Lexia Moscato, which has natural flavors of stone fruit like mango and apricot, SKYY Infusions Moscato vodka, mango purée, and creamy vanilla soft serve.  

“Adding a mango purée to the recipe brought out the natural flavors of the wine to make the perfect wine shake,” says Donna Ruch, Red Robin master mixologist. “I’ve personally had more people reach out to me about this particular drink than any other I’ve created for Red Robin.”

The restaurant carries a mango purée as a core purée flavoring. It’s also a main ingredient in Red Robin’s Gold Mango Margaritas. Ruch says she and Red Robin’s executive chefs often cross-utilize products from behind the bar and the kitchen, and are developing applications to use mango in a myriad of ways.

While the Mango Moscato pairing is a natural fit for Red Robin’s spring-summer promotion, Ruch says flavors such as mango, coconut, and strawberry warrant a placement on the menu year-round. “We launched a Mango Moscato Punch last November for the holidays and it performed very well during the promotional period as well.”

By Joann Whitcher