“It’s not just the traditional two sides and a protein anymore,” Hayden said. “It’s new ideas, new flavors and new applications.”
Foodservice also is trending toward more snacking, Hayden said, with fresh produce selling well when paired with ingredients such as cheese or bacon.
Another trend helping produce: more chefs are implementing tasting menus with up to 12 courses themed around one ingredient — often a fresh produce commodity such as peaches (specifically, in Atlanta), potatoes or heirloom tomatoes.
The color, variety and texture of produce also creates opportunities at foodservice. The presenters noted Applebee’s research uncovered the hottest texture trend now is “crisp” food, which produce can definitely deliver through leafy green salads, uncooked carrots and broccoli, apples and many other items.
Other hot texture trends the presenters mentioned: frizzled, shaved, muddled, frothed, dried, powdered and candied.