Snacks and specialty items have been trending since the pandemic. Adding gourmet snacks and condiments to menus can serve as a new revenue stream and improve customer experiences.
The snack category has exploded within the last few years. Gourmet chips, pretzels, snacks, and appetizers were the third fastest-growing specialty food category in 2020, up 19%, according to industry reports. Some research suggests that 45% of consumers eat three or more snacks a day, and 51% are looking for snacks that can be eaten on the go.
Comfort food reigned supreme during the pandemic. Consumers wanted to recreate the restaurant dining experience at home, thus, artisan condiments, take-home sides, and products like marinades, cooking sauces, and dressings provided ease of convenience and culinary creativity. Restaurants can use this to their advantage by going gourmet with snacks, condiments, and packaged grab-and-go items.
Small snacks, dips, sauces, and other bite-size dishes keep customers happy while they’re waiting for their meal and provide an upsell opportunity to increase check averages. Research says more than half of consumers are interested in trying new flavors in familiar dips and sauces.
Consider rosemary focaccia points paired with a sun-dried tomato oil dipping sauce with fresh basil, garlic, and Magellan® Sun-Dried Tomatoes to cater to guest cravings. Fries with a trio of dips are also a great crowd pleaser. A raspberry wasabi mustard, truffle black pepper garlic aioli, and a sweet but spicy chipotle blueberry BBQ sauce elevate the ordinary side into a gourmet snack for the whole table. For a familiar comfort snack with a gourmet twist, consider hush puppies with a Sriracha honey glaze, or Scotch eggs with creamy mustard sauce and curry mayo.
Fermented in Flavor
Pickling and fermenting saw a huge uptick during the pandemic. Cater to that craving with snack options like fried pickled green tomatoes with a Cajun remoulade. Mix in and top scallion pancakes with spicy kimchi or utilize fermented chiles to create a hot sauce for tacos, to top oysters, or to sell on its own. Pickled veggies are easy and cost-effective, so serving them to bulk up cheese plates, top sliders, or feature them on their own in a jar can offer an inexpensive snack with gourmet appeal.
All Around the World
International flavors are all over menus and the snack/condiment category is no exception. Serve up mini shrimp skewers marinated in Asian Pride® Sweet Chili Sauce for a sweet and spicy, craveable snack or grilled steak bites with Contigo® Chimichurri Sauce for a hearty, upscale, and tasty snack.
Poppadoms, an Indian fried dough traditionally served at the beginning of the meal, are becoming intriguing additions to happy hour menus or LTOs. Serve them with pickles and mint coriander and mango, or curry onion chutney. They’re cheap to make and serving them with elevated sauces brings in the gourmet factor to upcharge for the specialty item.
The plant-based movement continues to blossom across all categories, even snacks. Consumer reports indicate that one-third of meat alternative users are eating more plant-based snacks. And almost 30% are interested in plant-based dips and sauces. Combine the two popular trends by serving up a trio of gourmet condiments such as eggplant caponata, creamy cashew cilantro lime dip, and artichoke dip to punch up a crudité platter or serve with warm pita bread.
Or consider adding a plant-based charcuterie to the menu, even a ricotta and olive tapenade lavash topped with Green Origin® Pepperoni for an Armenian-inspired snack that feels both comforting and upscale.
Not only do diners want a tailored, unique experience when they go out to eat, but they also want to recreate it at home. Cash in on the opportunity by packaging or bottling your popular housemade products for takeout, delivery, or grab-and-go.
Whether it’s chili crisp oil, seasoning salts, marinades, homemade pastas, dips, or other customer favorites, the interest is there. Not only is it another revenue stream, but it can increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. Performance Foodservice has a comprehensive collection of bases, sauce starters, marinades, and other pantry staples to get your gourmet gears going.