Operator's Edge | Turkey Offers International Twists & Better-For You Benefits

Turkey Offers International Twists & Better-For You Benefits

As today’s patrons continue to embrace more ethnic flavors and personalized nutrition, operators are looking for products to help them stay ahead of trends while ensuring profitability. Paleo, Keto, and Whole 30 are some of today’s biggest diets, with about a third of consumers adhering to one of them.1 Diets like these continue to drive the demand for protein, while at the same time global flavor explorations are soaring in popularity with consumers. Healthy bowls, ethnic breakfast items, and Middle Eastern cuisine currently lead the way for 2020 trends that offer nutrition and excitement.2 

As operators prepare for today and the years ahead, turkey is an excellent protein to complement the menu because it meets the demands of mindful, nutrition-focused consumers, while also creating a blank canvas for adventurous global flavors. Best of all, consumers are on the hunt for new and unique turkey dishes. And this means operators have an opportunity to satisfy an unmet need in the foodservice landscape. 

Did you know 76% of consumers state that they like or love turkey?3 But many are struggling to find it on menus. Currently, turkey is only found on 43.2% menus,4 and 55% of consumers are saying they would consider eating more turkey when dining out if it was easier to find in restaurants.5 Few operators are capturing the opportunity to innovate with turkey, but this is what patrons are asking for. In fact, 68% of consumers said they would be interested in purchasing turkey from a restaurant if it was used in a less traditional preparation method.5 And 76% of consumers said they would be interested in purchasing turkey from a restaurant if paired with more bold and unique flavors.5 It’s clear that patrons want turkey. And right now, operators have a chance to deliver new excitement.

Along with the opportunity to meet current protein demands, turkey can help operators satisfy the consumer desire for meat alternatives. Plant-based menu options are all the talk, but it doesn’t mean everyone is becoming a vegetarian or vegan. Flexitarians are on the rise with many consumers focused on wellness and making better choices for the environment. Right now, patrons are specifically concerned about red meat, and they’re making an effort to lower their intake. In fact, the current move toward plant-based foods is driven mostly by the desire to cut back on red meat.4 And that trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down as 36% of consumers are eating less red meat now compared to a year ago.3 With similar texture, lean appeal, and mild flavor, turkey is the perfect swap-in for a variety of beef dishes. It boasts 25 grams of protein, fewer calories, and less fat than some cuts of beef and chicken,6 making it one of the smartest protein choices. It’s also available at a much lower cost per serving, so operators can easily boost profitability across the menu.

As ethnic flavor continues to grow on menus, patrons are opening their palates up to new and exotic dishes. Middle Eastern inspiration is showing an uptick1 along with Indonesian, South American, and Indian cuisines.2 And when it comes to exploring these foods, many consumers prefer to do so away from home, as 53% say they would “rather eat international foods at a restaurant than cook them.” 7 With a versatile, mild flavor, turkey is a great global flavor carrier. And currently, 25% of consumers are likely to order ethnic flavors for turkey dishes.8 

Operators can serve unique Middle Eastern fare like a Tikka Turkey Stacker made with turkey burger, tikka masala sauce, cheese, and pickled red onions in grilled naan flatbread. Or they can offer craveable ethnic bowls like Turkey Pad Thai with stir-fried turkey steak tossed with chopped Napa and red cabbage, carrots, basil, mint, cilantro, cucumber, peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, steamed glass noodles, and a ginger pad Thai vinaigrette. In addition to better-for-you protein demands and ethnic flavors, dishes featuring sesame seeds are predicted to see growth due to their compliance with paleo and keto diets.9 Ideas like these have it all when it comes to reaching health-conscious customers and satisfying the desire for something new.

Today’s consumers continue to look for adventure on the menu while opting for functional food that fits their idea of health. And those demands are only expected to grow in the decade ahead. You can help operators showcase a new side of turkey and avoid menu fatigue with a variety of turkey products from burgers to shaved steak to breakfast items. It’s time to showcase a whole new side a turkey, and give patrons what they really want! 

Content courtesy of Jennie-O Turkey Store


1 Menu Experts Survey Today’s, Tomorrow’s Trends, Winsight Content Studio May 20, 2019

2 National Restaurant Association What’s Hot 2020

3 Datassential, FoodBytes: The New Healthy 2019 Keynote Sneak Peek, 2019

4 Datassential MenuTrends, US, Dec. 2019

5 Jennie-O Proprietary Research on Turkey Usage, Nov. 2019

6 Comparison of 3 oz. serving of skinless roasted turkey breast, 3 oz. serving of skinless roasted chicken breast, and 3 oz. serving of broiled top loin beef trimmed to 1/8″ fat. Source: www.eatturkey.org/turkey-the-perfect-protein/

7 Mintel, International Food Trends, January 2019

8 Winsight, Content Studio, April 19, 2019

9 Spins Top 10 Predictions for 2019