Keeping your food purchasing focused, efficient and on-trend helps you meet the needs, desires and changing tastes of your customers. Tap into these purchasing insights—ranging from healthful snacking to sustainable seafood to global grilling—to keep your customers satisfied and your business on track.
we focused on growing your revenue and important food trends. Now we take a closer look at health & wellness as well as some great tips to make your menus more effective.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Promote U.S. Dietary Guidelines
Consider purchases to bring the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines to life on your menus. Key recommendations of the guidelines include filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, watching sodium intake, opting for low-fat dairy products, replacing refined grains with whole grains and drinking water instead of sugary beverages.
Order Whole Grains
When purchasing whole-grain products, review label language carefully first: “Enriched flour,”“100 percent wheat” and “multigrain” can mean (but don’t necessarily mean) that a product contains whole grain. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a whole-grain product must contain whole grain as the primary ingredient by weight (i.e., list “whole grain” first in the ingredients statement) and deliver at least eight grams of whole grains per serving.
Seek out low-sodium and reduced-sodium products to provide alternatives for customers watching their sodium levels. (“Reduced sodium” refers to a product that has 25 percent less sodium than the standard version of the product. “Low sodium” is defined as 140 milligrams or fewer per serving.)
Check your purchases carefully if you plan to offer gluten-free options, because gluten can lurk in surprising places. Ice cream, soy sauce, salad dressings, deli meats and bouillon cubes, for instance, may contain thickeners or flavorings made with gluten. “If you are creating gluten-free menu offerings, make sure you know each and every product for each and every recipe, and verify that they are gluten-free,” says Judy Marlin, R.D., entegra’s Senior Manager, Culinary Development.
Add Signature Spins
A signature dish that sets your menu apart is often built from a few key purchases. “It’s your signature, so begin with foods that you like and then put your own spin on them,” suggests David J. Barry, Assistant Professor at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Order interesting cheeses such as Mexican queso fresco, colorful seasonal foods such as sliced beets, or flavorful spreads or chutneys to put a signature twist on sandwiches and salads.
Move Side Dishes to Center Stage
As side dishes become more sophisticated, top trends include black/forbidden rice, quinoa and red rice, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) “What’s Hot in 2011” survey of chefs. Experiment with local produce and ethnic influences (other trends from the survey) in sides such as curried garbanzo beans or infused Saffron Rice paired with roasted vegetables. Refried beans can be swirled into melted cheese for a queso fundido dip or reinvented as a savory vegetarian soup. “The world of sides has opened up,” says Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of Research for the NRA.
Call on Holiday Helpers
Cut labor costs and speed prep time for holiday parties by ordering products that let you execute festive menus in a snap. For example, pre-cooked sous-vide chicken breasts stay moist and tender and won’t dry out when reheated, making for easy skewers, salads and main courses. For dazzling dessert displays, take advantage of dessert bars;ust unwrap a variety pack and pair with fresh berries or grapes.
Give Diners Big Choices with Small Plates
If you’re tapping into the small-plate trend, try ordering items that will work across different cuisines to spur your culinary creativity. Precooked and preflavored pork carnitas can cross over from their Mexican roots to become a quick appetizer on flatbreads made with pizza dough, rolled into wonton wrappers for egg rolls, or placed atop dinner rolls for mini pork sliders.
Find the Flavor Zone
How creative you can get when selecting new menu items depends on your clientele, but many operators find that updating menu classics with new flavor profiles is a low-risk way to bring new flavors to a menu, says Mary Chapman, foodservice researcher Technomic’s Director of Product Innovation. Try tweaks on the “Big Three” global cuisines: Ital- ian, Chinese and Mexican, consumer favorites that are ideal platforms for innovation.
About entegra Procurement Services®
Entegra Procurement Services provides customized procurement and distribution services for food and related supplies for multi-unit clients in the hospitality and non-commercial industries. As part of a global purchasing network with annual purchases that exceed $5 billion, entegra uses some of the most competitive pricing in the industry for our customers. We have the ability to impact not only the cost of goods our clients pay, but also the level of service that they receive from our supplier partners. www.entegraPS.com. For additional information on the entegra Program, please contact Dan.Richardson@entegraPS.com.