Slumping Starter Sales Means Menu Reshuffle for Restaurant Operators

According to a recent report by food consultant Technomic, consumers are ordering less appetizers, salads, and soups during their dining experience. In a reflection of the current dismal economic times, it seems restaurant customers are sticking with main dishes and opting out of the extras.

“To justify spending on items from the left side of the menu, they want more value-dishes with unique flavors they can’t make at home, or are large enough to share or eat as an entrée,” says Darren Tristano, EVP at  Technomic.

For food service operators, Technomic suggests offering more ‘innovative’ left-side options including “exciting dressings and dips, unusual ingredients, and preparation techniques that can’t easily be duplicated at home.”

Additional points from Technomic’s recent ‘Left Side of the Menu’ report:

• The number of ‘heavy starter’ consumers has reduced dramatically over the last two years.

• Fifty-eight percent of consumers overall, and 64 percent of consumers aged 18 to 34, are not fully satisfied with the variety of appetizers at full-service restaurants.

• Four out of five (82 percent) consumers felt that appetizers should be shared, and 61 percent said that portions should be large enough to do so.

• Health drives the decision to order a salad as an entree for 66 percent of consumers at lunch and 63 percent at dinner.

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