The health halo continues to dominate the incoming wave of menu trends, along with global ingredients. Spirulina (a microalgae), furikake (a Japanese seasoning) and moringa (a plant native to India) all sit among the latest items ripe for adaptation.
The Bleeding Edge of Menus
Operators today work in a faster menu adoption cycle, says Marie Molde, RD, Client Services, Datassential. What was once a 10-year cycle from inception to adoption to eventual ubiquity is now more like 5 to 6 years. “We are increasingly asked what’s at the edge of inception,” she says.
Realistically, Molde finds independents primarily swap out seasonal dishes. Still, she notes, “if this is your craft, pay close attention to it.”
Here, Molde offers a little education about adaptogens, still an up-and-comer on menus.
Q: Do you consider adaptogens an extension of functional trends?
A: Adaptogens [plants] are definitely the newest shiny object in functional foods. The term essentially means these products can adapt to what we need health-wise as individuals. It actually aligns with another trend we are seeing around greater personalization, meaning items uniquely custom to the individual. I am enthusiastic about adaptogens.
Q: What are some examples?
A: Ashwagandha and moringa are both adaptogens. What’s important to know — and I don’t know if people know this — is that they have to be taken with regularity. To be effective to one’s health, it has to build up in your system.
The following list identifies emerging functional components that have been cropping up on menus since 2015. These are items listed as an ingredient on a menu; the percentages reflect growth on menus over a four-year period (2015-2019).
- Chia Seeds 244%
- Bee pollen 57%
- Turmeric 166%
- Spirulina 94%
6 Fast-Growing Ingredients and Flavors
These six items have seen rapid growth on menus in the past four years. The data reflects actual words on menus, which explains the variables between a brand-specific mention (Tajin) and more generic terminology (ancient grain). Datassential deems anything higher than a 500 percent growth rate as particularly significant.
- Tajin 1,501%
- Ancient grain 740%
- Dukkah 667%
- Matcha 550%
- Bone broth 550%
- Furikake 500%