Business Insights

Feeding Demand for Functional Foods

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Food has always been fuel, but many of today’s consumers are looking for something with a higher octane. They’re seeking so-called functional foods and supplements with perceived benefits such as enhanced well-being, improved cognition/digestion/heart health, restfulness, mood stabilization, inflammation reduction and more. Popular opinions include fermented/probiotic foods/beverages (like kimchi and kombucha), ginger, mushrooms, bone broth, chia seeds, nuts and turmeric.

Top Functional-Food Opportunities

Incorporated as new components of existing dishes, functional foods facilitate menuing the familiar with a twist – a tactic that generates sales. For consumers, functional foods offer a flavor- and texture-boosting health halo. For operators, functional foods enhance perceived plate value and create differentiation, both of which serve the well-being of the bottom line.

Datassential reports that consumers are especially keen on functional components in sandwiches, salads and pasta. But their interest in functional foods extends throughout the menu.

90% of consumers express interest in functional foods overall. Yet 75% say they’re difficult to find at restaurants – which points to substantial growth potential for functional foods in commercial foodservice.Datassential

Innovate with Functional Foods

A growing number of consumers say they want more foods and beverages with functional-health benefits in restaurants. Still, despite consumer interest in wellness, flavor and indulgence still drive the dining-out experience.

To satisfy all three demands, foodservice experts forecast function-forward innovation in every aspect of the menu. Shamrock Foods Chefs suggest that adding functional health benefits to indulgent items helps guests give themselves permission to order them.

Consider which benefits consumers may seek at different dayparts. At breakfast, the most sought-after functional foods are those that help with focus or that keep one full throughout the day. Examples: tumeric lattes, chia-seed avocado toasts and breakfast bowls. For a late-night bar menu, consider pairings that promote relaxation – e.g., a shiitake mushroom appetizer and wine.

Compounds in shiitake mushrooms may help boost immunity, support heart health and reduce inflammation.

How to Add Functional Foods and Supplements to Menus

  • Beverages

    Give cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks a wellness factor by blending in mushrooms, turmeric or chia seeds. Add turmeric to smoothies, ginger to iced tea, kombucha to local craft beers and Greek yogurt to milkshakes.

  • Entrees

    Season stir-frys with turmeric. Give trendy items a functional or flexitarian makeover – e.g., Nashville Breaded Hot ‘Shrooms.

  • Breakfast Items

    Top oatmeal, muffins, grain bowls and toasts with nuts and chia seeds.

  • Soups

    Spike chicken soup with ginger. Add bone broth to butternut-squash soup.

  • Salads

    Add chia seeds to creamy salad dressings. Top salads with kimchi or house-pickled, fermented veggies.

  • Sides

    Offer kimchi poutine or slaw.

  • Desserts

    Serve ginger infused créme brûlée, chia puddings topped with grilled stone fruits.

“Always determine what’s right for your operation and your brand.”Matt Ryland, Shamrock Foods Business Solutions Manager

Add turmeric to smoothies, ginger to iced tea, Kombucha to local craft beers.

Promoting Functional Foods

  • Guide Guests

    Train servers to suggest pairings that create holistic meals with functional benefits.

  • Offer Customization

    Options allow consumers to get what they want/need.

  • Be Descriptive

    Add information about functional foods to menus, inserts and table tents. But – per FDA regulations – don’t overstate health claims.

  • Integrate Functional Food in your Menus

    Datassential reports that consumers overwhelmingly want functional foods listed on main menus, not separate ones.

  • Designate Functional Foods

    Use icons to make them easy to find.

  • Speak to Value

    Even customers who crave superfoods like a good deal, so promote great value where you can.

Learn More

Ask your Shamrock Foods Sales Representative how our Business Solutions Team can help with incorporating functional foods into your menus.

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