Operator's Edge | The Condiment Conundrum
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The Condiment Conundrum

Condiments typically support a variety of uses, and trending flavors tend to stick around for a while.

“Not only are condiments utilized as sandwich and burger toppings, but they also can be used as dipping sauces, glazes for proteins, and in just about every daypart,” says Mike Kostyo, trendologist at Chicago-based Datassential. Adding a unique condiment to a dish turns a common item into a signature one. “We call that ‘safe experimentation’, and it’s a surefire way to create menu items that score high in both purchases intent and uniqueness,” he says.

What’s Trending*

  • Sriracha is still growing o menus, increasing its menu penetration 35% in the past four years, with chefs finding new applications for it.
  • One of the fastest-growing condiments on menus in the past four years, chimichurri has increased its menu penetration by 43%. Operators use chimichurri on meat entrees, tacos, bowls, and even on nachos and breakfast dishes.
  • Hot and spicy flavors continue to trend on menus. Nashville hot grew more than 700% on menus in the past four years and has become far more common at major chains.
  • Sweet and spicy condiment flavors, like mango habanero and hot honey, continue to trend because they give consumers the best of both worlds.
  • On the sweeter side, options like matcha, almond butter, maple, and sea salt caramel are hot condiment flavors. Matcha is up 140% on menus in the past four years.
  • Aioli is now on 28% of menus.
  • Truffle as a flavor is up 17% in the past four years.

By the Numbers*

  • 42% of consumers say they look forward to signature sauces served at particular restaurants and a whopping 9 out of 10 say they would buy them at retail, if available.
  • 31% of operators surveyed charge extra for at least one condiment, sauce, or dressing, and 58% say trendy condiment varieties are worth a price premium.
  • 39% of consumers prefer to see name-brand ketchup in restaurants.
  • 43% are interested in trying new condiment flavors and varieties on burgers.
  • 39% learn about new condiments, sauces, and dressings from restaurant menus.
  • 31% eat sriracha at least once per month.

Source: Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

*Datassential’s “Condiments, Sauces, and Dressings” keynote report