CHICAGO — Limited-service restaurants have reduced the number of beverage items on their menus compared to the prior year, reports foodservice consultants Technomic Information Services in the new "Beverage Consumer Trend Report."
The greatest drop occurred in customized beverages such as specialty coffees, teas and smoothies. At the same time, there has been a corresponding increase in limited-time only (LTO) beverages, the report shows.
"Limited-service operators are rationalizing their offerings to focus their regular beverage menus on the most profitable, popular and unique drinks," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic. "They're introducing new, innovative beverages through LTOs, rather than bulking up their everyday beverage menus with long lists of specialty drinks."
On the other hand, Tristano said that full-service restaurants, which tend to focus primarily on traditional meal accompaniments such as iced tea and soft drinks, did show a modest increase in the total number of menued beverage items. One particularly hot area of innovation was in so-called mocktails, typically featuring lemonade in combination with other fruit flavors.
Technomic's "Beverage Consumer Trend Report" combines data from extensive quantitative consumer research, menu analysis from its proprietary MenuMonitor database and restaurant data from its Top 500 Report to generate fresh and timely insights into the non-alcoholic beverage segment.
Other interesting findings include:
- Using the terms "100 percent fruit juice" and "natural ingredients" makes consumers more likely to purchase those beverages when dining out. Nearly four out of 10 consumers (38 percent) said that seeing the term "100 percent fruit juice" would make them more likely to order it; about one-third (32 percent) said the same of the term "natural ingredients."
- More than half (57 percent) of consumers aged 18-24 reported purchasing food or a beverage from a higher-end fast-food restaurant in the past month, compared to an average 30 percent across other age groups.
- The top two beverages consumers believe should become a larger part of their diets are plain bottled water (35 percent) and tap water (31 percent). Almost half of consumers (44 percent) said they should be drinking fewer regular carbonated soft drinks.
- Only 36 percent of full-service restaurants and 34 percent of limited-service restaurants had bottled water on their menus as of the period ending December 2007. The research also shows that not all operators that offer bottled water include it as a branded menu item.
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