Ever tried a mango & Tajin nitro latte? Watermelon with whole grain mustard? What about Flamin' Hot Cheetos dipped in vanilla frosting? While they seem like odd pairings, they all taste curiously delicious! (Trust us, the last one will blow your mind).
For six straight shows, Datassential's CEO, Jack Li has presented data-driven insights into forces shaping foodservice at Dot Foods' Innovations event. This year's theme was "Better Together" and if there's one thing the Datassential team knows that pairs well together, it's food and data (especially menu trends). In addition to a lively presentation featuring the latest food and beverage trends, the Datassential team (Kelley Fechner, Samantha Horvath, Naomi Van Til, Mike Kostyo, and Megan Lynberg), hosted a "Better Together" food pairings booth in collaboration with Dot Foods for an unforgettable tasting experience.
Here's an overview of the presentation and virtually experience the unique food pairings with the Datassential team!
Datassential + Food Trends
During the event, Jack Li's Trends & Insights dazzled the audience of national account operators and food suppliers with an exciting range of topics, including new product launches, consumer habits inside the home, supply chain, and inflation.
Here are a few of the highlights...
- Popular Tik Tok food trends and social media sensations, such as Pancake Cereal or Kool-Aid Pickles
- Chain menu launches are currently at 86.4% of pre-COVID levels and the areas of menu innovation have shifted, especially around combo & value menu items
- Consumer reactions and dining behavior around inflation — 96% of consumers report seeing signs of inflation & rising prices in the general economy. And for the 12 months ending Q4 2021, menu prices rose by 5.7%
- Menu items most impacted by inflation: pork and beef entrees, wings
- Menu items least impacted by inflation: beer, wine, cocktails
- Menus shrank by 10.2% during COVID — key declines include breakfast items
- While some trends stopped or reversed because of Covid, some trends continued growing, such as cauliflower pizza crust.
- Gen Z is more likely than other generations to try something new for new's sake, like Sandia Loca
- 65% of consumers agree we could mitigate climate change by eating differently
Datassential + Food Pairings
Momma said "you'll never know you won't like it until you try it"... or something like that. This was especially true at the Better Together food pairings booth at Dot Foods Innovations. The show floor was filled with all sorts of delicious samples from Dot suppliers, and every two hours, attendees could be delighted at the Datassential booth with some unexpected pairings that were, well, surprisingly good!
Pairing #1: Mango & Tajin Iced Latte
The first pairing of the day started with coffee, naturally. A La Colombe draft latte with Monin mango syrup was served with Tajin chili lime seasoning — an ingredient that has grown +399% on beverage menus over the past four years. The mango added a smooth texture and tropical sweetness that was complemented by the tangy and hint of spicy Tajin. It received a second-place vote by local tasters.
Pairing #2: Fruit & Mustard
The second pairing of the day was watermelon and pineapple combined with Savor Imports whole grain mustard. This pairing was inspired by the Tik Tok trend popularized by Lizzo. While this was a social media sensation, it was the least favorite among the fans at the show. (Try it at home and see which camp you're in!)
Pairing #3: Jam & Meat
The third pairing of the day was Jack Links beef jerky and Smucker's blackberry jam. Savory and sweet more and more are being paired together, so this concept was developed with that in mind — salty beef jerky with the dark berries. Limited-time-offer (LTO) concepts with berry sauce have an average 5% higher purchase intent! This pairing was ranked third by local tasters.
Pairing #4: Vanilla Frosting & Flamin' Hot Cheetos (the "mystery pairing")
A secret menu is always fun. This pairing of spicy with rich vanilla is unusual, but not unheard of! In fact, it was inspired by Milk Bar's founder & CEO, Christina Tosi, who shared it on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show. The sweet and savory richness of the two ingredients add layers of complexity and this was by far the fan favorite of the show! Winner winner!
Datassential + You = Better Together
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