Consumer demand for produce items start with culinary innovation. According to leading market research company Datasential, the inception of a culinary trend starts at the restaurant level, with fine dining chefs experimenting with items such as Daikon, Romanesco and figs. As more chefs become aware of these trends, the items begin to proliferate through a diverse number of formats, more consumers become aware of them, and start to demand them both at restaurants and at retail. Chefs looking to capitalize on innovative produce trends can partner with their produce provider to experiment with new and exciting fresh items to enhance their menus.
Here are a couple of reasons it is important for the produce industry to continue to bolster relationships with chefs across all foodservice arenas:
Custom Diets Mean Custom Menus.
- With the increase of customers with personalized diets, healthy eating looks different on today’s menus than ever before. The portfolio of dieting options and dietary restrictions is growing. Chefs are taking note and increasing pick-and-choose options on their menus, catering to specialized diets. Fresh produce can play a starring role in a variety of specialized diets, from cauliflower pizza crust for paleo and gluten-free menus to a portabella burger for a vegan menu to a grilled vegetable medley for a low-fat/low-calorie menu.
Try Before You Buy.
- What better way to explore new culinary trends than to order something new off a menu. Chefs revel in the opportunity to delight diners with creative offerings, and fresh produce offers countless possibilities for color, texture and flavor. Whether the trend is a new fruit or vegetable variety, a color or preparation method or a revitalization of a tried and true staple, leave it to a chef to explore the limits of fruits and vegetables by creating their own masterpieces to delight their diners.
Knowing the key role chefs play in the promotion of produce to consumers, United Fresh offers a number of resources that help chefs and produce companies maximize the impact of fresh produce in the foodservice setting. Developed by the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice board, Fresh Insights for Foodservice puts a quarterly spotlight on fresh produce items trending in the marketplace, allowing both chefs and their produce providers the opportunity to brainstorm on ways to enhance their menus.
Additionally, United Fresh pays special tribute to chefs and foodservice operations for excellence in the use of fresh produce in the culinary arts through the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program.
The Program, sponsored by PRO*ACT and now in it’s 9th year, honors chefs and foodservice operators –leaders in integrating and elevating the use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. “Fresh produce continues to drive success for the foodservice sector, and chefs play a critical role in encouraging consumers to explore produce items,” said Max Yeater, President of PRO*ACT. “We are proud to continue to support this exceptional program and honor leading chefs who are making fresh produce the highlight of their menus.”
The Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards nomination period closes January 15, 2016. For more information on the program and to nominate a chef, visit https://www.unitedfresh.org/fsa or contact Miriam Wolk at 202.303.3410.