A longtime favorite, french fries are still showing rapid growth. According to Simplot, fries are up 19 percent since 2013, and appear on 58 percent of menus across the industry. None of that changed with the pandemic, as diners gravitated toward comfort foods and to-go orders.
Like anything that’s offered by the majority of restaurants, it’s important to deliver something unique—a plate of standard fries with ketchup might still be popular with some diners, but it isn’t going to set a brand apart. At the very least, chefs should consider adding distinct french fry options for guests craving a new experience.
Here are a few trends that can serve as a guide for french fry innovation.
With more diners eating off premise, the classic french fry is undergoing a facelift. Chefs and operators are trying out new twists on the old staple that ensure a delicious offering that won’t get soggy shortly after being packaged for delivery, something that's crucial now that off-premises ordering is at an all-time high.
“Thin coating on the outside of fries can help withstand the relatively longer period of time it takes for off-premise offerings to make it to the eating stage,” says Julie Markus, associate marketing manager at Simplot. “That’s good news for operators, because unique french fry shapes and offerings can be up-charged, too.”
Datassential reports that 60 percent of consumers are interested in loaded fries, and operators are responding with offerings across dayparts—think eggs benedict fries in the morning, or poutine in the afternoon or evening. Simplot says a new product they are offering, Conquest Crispy Potato Strips, can be a perfect base layer for french fry dishes.
“The shape makes potato strips very dippable,” Markus says. “It also makes the fry ideal for loading, as Conquest Crispy Potato Strips have three times the amount of surface area compared to rival products.”
French fries have increasingly shown up in inventive places, like on top of a burger or gyro. Some have even experimented with fries on pizza. While those applications might not be right for every brand, the familiarity of fries can be paired with other trendy items and help introduce consumers to something exotic.
“Chefs love the versatility and eye-catching shape of Conquest Crispy Potato Strips,” Markus says. “Not only do they help fill a plate with their large shape, but results can be achieved by serving them as part of sandwiches, or with on-trend dips and sauces.”
Love it or hate it, social media is playing a huge role in food trends. Zagat reports that 75 percent of millennial diners report having chosen where to eat based on a picture they saw on social media, and that only proliferated as diners spent more time at home this year.
Finding ways to improve the photogenic qualities of traditional ingredients can drive profitability.
“The new potato strip style gives operators Instagram-worthy presentation,” Markus says. “The extra long fancy length ensures great plate coverage.”
Even if french fries are just offered on the side of a burger, or a sandwich, it’s important that they look scrumptious and inviting. Whatever goes on top of them—or whatever they go on top of—a uniquely-shaped french fry offers welcome differentiation from the norm, and can help transform offerings into something noteworthy and popular.
To find out more about Conquest Crispy Potato Strips, visit Simplot’s website.