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.
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.
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.”
Additionally, the renewed sense of urgency surrounding balancing profit-and-loss sheets means food costs are under increasing scrutiny. Avocados, then, offer a great opportunity to add a high margin ingredient to the menu.
“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,” says Roberto Roman, corporate executive chef at Simplot. “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.”
On the other hand, avocado pricing has been particularly volatile of late, reaching an all-time high in summer 2019. That makes it difficult for operators to build a menu around the popular fruit, but Simplot has a solution for that.
“Simplot offers competitive, year-round pricing that operators can count on,” Roman says. “The product comes pre-sliced, reducing labor costs, too. Simplot is constantly working to find ways to set operators up for success in an increasingly turbulent industry, and Harvest Fresh avocados are a great example of that.”