The definition of dessert is broadening to include snack options inbetween meals, a trend which has led to the increase in dessert consumption. According to Technomic, compared to two years ago, more of today's consumers say they're eating dessert items during both midmorning and midafternoon hours as both snacks and after meals.

Accordingly, dessert consumption is up — 40 percent of consumers report they're eating desserts after a meal at least twice a week, compared to 36 percent in 2010.

"Consumers aren't holding off on dessert until after dinner; instead, they're reaching for easily accessible, handheld and portable treats at just about any time of day," says Darren Tristano, EVP of Technomic Inc. "Desserts are also functioning as snacks and even meal replacements. Operators will need to look at flavors, portion sizes and evolving needs to satisfy a broad range of consumers' dessert expectations and preferences."

Some highlights from Technomic's 2013 Dessert Consumer Trend Report include:

  • Emotions can drive dessert purchases: most consumers say they are more likely to eat dessert when they want to treat or reward themselves (78 percent) or are feeling happy (60 percent), suggesting the strong effect of mood on dessert consumption.
  • Dessert occasions are also influenced by the dining party: 44 percent of full-service desserts and 29 percent of limited-service desserts are shared.
  • Consumers want healthier desserts and smaller portions: consumer responses reveal demands for healthier desserts — especially low-calorie and sugar-free options — and 36 percent of consumers agree that they are more likely to order dessert if a mini portion is available.

Wanna learn how to create and market the perfect dessert for your menu? Check out this year's Fast Casual Executive Summit Oct. 13-15 in New Orleans, where the opening panel features a how-to on dessert and beverage innovation.

Read more about trends and statistics.

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