Espresso martinis, like this RTD version from Golden Rule Spirits, were among Datassential's trends at the midpoint of 2023.
Reading between the often-blurred lines of food retailing and foodservice, it seems that consumers are still in comfort-with-a-twist mode. According to the recently released "Midyear Trend Report" from food and beverage intelligence platform Datassential, barbecued chicken wings are the fastest-growing menu items at the midpoint of 2023.
“We had a lot of discussion over this – why, what and how? Some of it is that there are a lot of cool barbecue sauces,” said Claire Conaghan, associate director of publications at Datassential, during a recent webinar on the report. She cited in-demand flavors like Korean barbecue sauce and Carolina gold barbecue sauce and noted that operators are getting increasingly specific on menu item nomenclature.
Also reflecting the taste for reimagined familiar flavors and products, the report spotlighted the espresso martini as a menu mover that is also showing up in ready-to-drink cocktails available at retail. “So many things that were cool are back again. We saw that a couple of years ago with hints of a ‘cool kids’ Long Island iced tea and it happened here again with espresso martinis,” Conaghan said. “It’s a fast, easy thing that people like to mix up.” Meanwhile, low-ABV beers and wines are gaining momentum in the adult beverage sector as well, she reported.
Another notable finding from the report is that the term “homemade” is the largest catalyst for craving among consumers. “Above all, across all generations, the top (crave) winner was homemade. If you are not calling out homemade in the products you are making or the products you are putting out there, you should be,” said Mike Kostyo, associate director and trendologist at Datassential.
Getting into specifics, Datassential shared some trending foods, beverages and ingredients identified through its Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC) tracking. Watermelon seeds, coffee lemonade, breakfast pizza and elote are examples of products that are moving closer in the adoption phase.
Tech continues to seep into food trends evident in foodservice and grocery channels, the report found. Well over half – 57% – of consumers said they wanted to try a caprese avocado burger that was suggested by ChatGPT based on a prompt about creating a unique avocado-topped sandwich. Meanwhile, the TikTok effect continues, as 67% of consumers want to see more social media fads come to life at stores and restaurants; that number jumps to 74% among Gen Z and Millennial consumers.
Finally, as summer winds down, Kostyo noted that food purveyors can keep an eye on social media for the term or hashtag “Code Orange,” as users highlight items that they have discovered for fall and Halloween season.