CHICAGO - Away-from-home soup and salad purchases are on the rise, as consumers seek light, healthy and affordable fare, according to Technomic.
A variety of portion sizes featuring soup/salad options on different areas of the menu allows consumers to tailor their meal specifically to their needs. Whether it€™s a cup or bowl, side or entrÃ©e, 61% of consumers now order soup at least occasionally during restaurant visits, up from 52% just two years ago. Salads have grown even more; nearly half of consumers now order salad all or most of the time compared to 34%.
"Healthy options and portion variety are driving factors in today€™s soup and salad menu positioning," said Technomic Director of Consumer Research Sara Monnette, in a press release. "Operators are revamping their menus in response to consumer demand for soup and salad as a standalone entrÃ©e, side substitution, an appetizer, or a component of a combo meal. There are many menu variations in which soups/salads are now offered."
Technomic€™s "Left Side of the Menu: Soup and Salad Consumer Trend Report" found that soup and salad are the two most common appetizers at both limited-service restaurants (LSRs) and full-service restaurants (FSRs). Appetizer salads remained fairly steady in both sectors since 2009, while soup grew 22% to surpass salad as the leading appetizer at LSRs.
Salads are the fourth most frequently menued entrÃ©e among all entrÃ©es at LSRs and rank second at FSRs. Chicken-topped salads are by far the leading entrÃ©e variety offered at both LSRs and FSRs, followed by Caesar.
Based on information from over 500 leading and emerging chains, chili has surpassed soup-of-the-day offerings to become the leading soup variety at LSRs, and ranked second at FSRs. Interest in healthier, lighter fare is driving increases for both soup and salad.
Seventy-six percent of consumers who are purchasing salads more often say they€™re seeking a healthier option and 49% want something lighter. A strong majority (64%) of consumers believe that dressings are a key component, if not the key component of a tasty salad. The overall variety of options and flavors offered trumps healthfulness and brand names as purchase drivers.