In a rapidly changing market, operators are often challenged to ensure their menus feature a variety of dishes that modern customers will be interested to try. Customer demand for fresh, flavorful, creative, and customizable food—delivered quickly to their table or home—is challenging chefs to find new ways of menuing familiar products and maintain efficiency in their kitchens. Many restaurants have found success by incorporating avocados across their list of offerings, incorporating them into well-known dishes, such as guacamole, highlighting them in limited-time offers (LTOs), creating new vegan-friendly dishes that recall comfort foods such as mac and cheese, and adding the fruit to fan favorites like burgers or pizza. According to Simplot’s corporate executive chef for research and development, Michael Zeller, every time a chef incorporates avocado into a dish, there is any opportunity to upsell or increase the margin of that item. “Diners are willing to pay more to add avocados because they are generally perceived as a higher-cost food,” Zeller says. “Customers know that the fruit is loaded with health benefits—such as fatty acids, which support heart health and can help lower cholesterol—and it is therefore regarded as a value item.” With the rise of the plant-forward foods trend, avocados are more popular than ever. A recent report from Datassential shows that 70 percent of consumers are trying to increase their fruit and veggie intake. The mild flavor, changeable texture, and general versatility of avocados means they can be incorporated into many different types of dishes—from sweet to savory, from appetizer to entree to dessert—and will likely satisfy the palates of many different types of customers, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers.
“The best way to make an LTO profitable is to use ingredients already found in your kitchen,” says Roberto Roman, corporate executive chef at Simplot. “Avocados are a versatile ingredient that can answer customers’ demand for flavor, regardless of their individual preferences. Capitalize on trending diets such as keto by incorporating avocados as a healthy fat, or spice things up with a next gen Mexican dish such as Sandia Loca or Paletas—a kind of spicy popsicle.”
“Today’s consumers have more diverse eating habits than ever, ” Zeller says. “From eating salads for breakfast and eggs for dinner to ordering smoothies all day long, restaurant customers make less distinction between daypart menus, because they have an increased desire to incorporate healthy foods into every meal. Avocados are a great ingredient to answer that trend, because—just like eggs or leafy greens—they’re versatile enough to be paired with almost any dish, from sweet to savory and everything in between.”
“Avocados are attractive to diners across demographics,” Roman says. “With the rising popularity of more plant-forward eating, it is critical to incorporate fresh ingredients. Pre-prepped avocados have no preservatives, which further underscores their natural goodness and provides an opportunity for seamless recipe integration and diner satisfaction.”
“A challenge for operators is minimizing the cost of ingredients, the time it takes to prep menu offerings, and how to properly store those ingredients,” Roman says. “By implementing pre-prepped ingredients into their kitchens, however, many chefs have found success. Packaged avocados, for example, make portioning easier, helping to improve efficiency on the line.”
According to Datassential, 62 percent of customers report they are more likely to order a dish if the menu states that it contains avocados. These fruits are not only enticing to consumer tastes, but they also appeal to the widespread desire to eat more good-for-you foods (say hello to fiber and healthy fats). Even if the ubiquitous toast is on its way out, avocados aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Bolstered by the heightened demand for plant-forward foods and rich flavors alike, the popularity of this fruit trend is expected to continue well into 2020. Several establishments have found success attracting customers of all demographics by adding avocados to every daypart, from breakfast smoothies and lunchtime snacks to dinnertime appetizers, entrees, and even dessert. To ensure continued efficiency in the kitchen, chefs and operators are using pre-prepped products, which can be more quickly incorporated into new dishes or LTOs. These products minimize the training required for kitchen staff when implementing new menu items, and speed up kitchen processes to ensure efficiency—and continued customer satisfaction.