QSRs Move Toward More Flavorful Options

Dining at a QSR isn’t about fuel anymore—it’s about experience. Customers are continuing to look for more adventurous menu options that are unique, inspiring and bring the heat. Subway, Taco Bell and Sonic are just a few of the companies that are listening to their customers and spicing things up.

Sriracha is the "hot" new condiment for QSRsThis week, Subway introduced the new Sriracha Chicken Melt and Sriracha Steak Melt, both topped with a creamy Sriracha sauce. The incorporation of the much beloved condiment helps to shake up Subway’s sandwich lineup.

This isn’t the first move toward spicier options for QSRs. Earlier this year, Taco Bell introduced its latest Doritos Locos Taco: Fiery, and Sonic added some more flavorful offerings to their sandwiches and burgers with the new Island Fire lineup. These menu items are tapping into the growing food trend of kicking up the heat that Millennials crave.

According to Food Fanatics Food Trend Tracker, this winter shows a shift toward South American and Southeast Asian dining trends. These foods are typically spice-based, right on target with the flavors consumers are seeking out, specifically flavors like Sriracha. In addition to that, QSRs are keeping an eye on theHeatSync index. Developed by Kalsec, Inc. in partnership with Mintel, the index tracks the usage of different peppers in the US and Europe and shows the increase in popularity of hot peppers used in consumer goods.

Traditionally the progression of a food trend has been a trickle-down effect from high-end dining, to fast casual, then finally to QSRs. With this new trend of hot and spicy food, there seems to be more of a trickle-up effect.  QSRs alone are leading menu innovation, instead of just jumping on the food trend bandwagon.

By watching general industry trends, QSRs can proactively create menu options that are more desirable than their fast-casual counterparts, allowing them to be the first to deliver on the experience and menu offerings people want.

Sriracha is the flavor of the moment, but consumers are constantly looking for the next big thing. So when looking toward future menu items think about:

  • Tracking food trends so your business can be more proactive during product development.
  • Look at past food trends to help predict future trends or flavor returns.
  • Take a look at your own menu to see where some menu items can be replaced with more tantalizing options.
Photo credit: Memphis CVB

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