A new report from Food Genius, titled “Icing on the Cake – Desserts” shows that desserts are available at nearly 70 percent of restaurant locations in the U.S. However, the QSR segment is the most underrepresented market for desserts, while casual dining is overrepresented.
The report also states that QSRs under-menu ethnic dessert offerings, such as baklava and gelato.
Menuing dessert sections on the menu is growing; over the past year, it has grown 1 percent. There has also been a 1-percent point increase in menu incidence over the past year of dessert selections of the menu.
Other report highlights include:
- Mediterranean and Indian flavors are growing in location count, and their desserts are becoming more ubiquitous accordingly.
- Cheesecake mentions are growing, giving operators an opportunity to experiment with new varieties and differentiate themselves, the report said.
- Chains are driving the increased variety of desserts.
The top dishes menued at chains include:
- Cake, 59 percent;
- Ice cream, 46 percent;
- Cookies, 25 percent;
- Pudding, 22 percent;
- Pie, 21 percent;
- Tiramisu, 18 percent.
Brownies, pastries, sundaes and flan were also mentioned.
Candies and confections, such as chocolate, are the most common ingredient on dessert menus. Dairy and fruit are mentioned frequently as well. Half as many desserts mention vanilla compared to chocolate.
Flavors, such as fudge, caramel, Oreo and marshmallow could be leveraged by independents to provide more items that consumers are familiar with from chain menus, the report suggests. Conversely, Nutella, butterscotch and toffee are more popular at independents, but haven’t shown large chain adoption, representing an opportunity among bigger concepts. Some brands, such as Carvel, are taking advantage of the early trend.
Food Genius further suggests the following niche examples that are trending into the mainstream for dessert purveyors:
- Cream puff
- Red velvet cake
The more accepted, but still growing, examples include tiramisu, cannoli, baklava, rice pudding and carrots.
And those that are widespread but continuing to grow include cheesecake, cookies, cakes and grains.
Finally, the most common menu descriptor used for desserts is “homemade.” Other buzzwords for the meal include topped, moussed, layered, fresh, sweet, baked, topped, fried, warmed and rich.