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7 Signature Sauces to use on your next Burger Innovation

We've surveyed consumers on their ingredient and flavor preferences then broke down the insights by key consumer demographics and ingredient types. In this article we're focusing on consumers preferences for burger sauces as well as provide new burger sauce ideas for your next innovation.   For these and other burger sauce ideas Download our new E-Book: Burger Sauce Concepts which contains 24 next-level innovative burger sauce ideas. When looking at what components of a burger were the most important to consumers 'Sauces' came in as the third most important ingredient, above 'Proteins', 'Produce Add-Ons', and 'Other Add-Ons'.  Only 'Bread' and 'Cheese' were more important components of a burger for Total U.S. respondents. Next, we considered what 'Sauces' were most preferred on their burgers and 60.8% of total respondents preferred a 'Signature Sauce' on their burger just behind 'Mayonnaise' at 62.1% meaning there could be a opportunity to explore new burger sauce options on burger builds. Top Preferences - Total U.S. Respondents Tried & loved and haven't tried but would be very interested in. Ketchup (65.9%) BBQ Sauce (62.2%) Mayonnaise (62.1%) Signature Burger Sauce (60.8%) Steak Sauce (54.9%) Yellow Mustard (54.3%) Spicy Sauce (54.2%) Spicy Mustard (Dijon, Hot & Spicy) 53.5% Honey Mustard (49.6%) Ranch (45.8%) Salsa (45.7%) Aioli (43.7%) Thousand Island (43.7%) Sriracha (39.6%) Both female and male respondents preferred 'Signature Burger Sauce' within their top four choices and females preferred it as their second most preferred sauce (62%) only behind 'Ketchup' (65.3%) and males preferred only slightly less at (59.6%). There is a significant opportunity for restaurants to easily innovate their burgers by keying on the sauces they are offering on their menus. Below are seven burger sauce ideas to inspire your next burger innovation.

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4 Burger Trends to Power your Next Signature Dish

Few foods performed well during the pandemic, but burgers remained a must-have meal. While pressing concerns forced many restaurants to forgo burger innovation, operators are once again beginning to experiment with extravagant takes on America’s favorite sandwich. Download Now Total U.S. Burger Guide for all the insights & menu ideas. Luckily, burger LTOs continue to register high appeal and excitement with consumers. According to Datassential’s 2021 Burger Keynote, nearly 80% of consumers report they eat burgers away from home at least once a month. Additionally, Technomic found that 48 percent of consumers report trying an LTO menu item every month, with 30% of consumers ages 18 to 44 trying an LTO every week. Below are four burger trends, recent real-world examples from restaurants, and inspiration for creating your own over-the-top burgers. TREND #1: PREMIUM MEAT COMBOS Using upscale meats is one of the most favored mega trends among consumers, with over 40% expressing interest, according to Datassential. ON THE MENU: SWAG Burger, BurgerFi BurgerFi launched the SWAG Burger, featuring a double Wagyu and brisket blend burger patty topped with charred jalapeños, candied ghost pepper bacon, sweet tomato relish, pepper Jack cheese and hot steak sauce. The SWAG Burger, which stands for Spicy Wagyu Burger, was a limited time offer that was originally slated to end in May. However, it was extended until the end of June, followed by the decision to make it a permanent item starting the first week of July. Available nationwide, it quickly became a top-selling premium burger on the chain’s menu. The options for burger blending are endless—from short rib and brisket to Black Angus grass-fed beef and lamb.

Entree Salads: All the Stats, Facts, and Data You’ll Ever Need to Know

Entree salads are a staple of the American restaurant experience. In fact, they are on 64.3% of menus. As patrons move toward healthier options in their menus overall, a great entree salad could be an excellent addition to your restaurant menu design. With just a few steps you can create an entree salad recipe for your restaurant that is more appealing to your specific target audience, wows your customers, and supersedes the competition. Download Now Total U.S. Entree Salad Guide for all the insights & menu ideas,  Developing an entree salad for your menu In order to develop the ideal entree salad for your customer base, it is important to understand: The key ingredient components preferred by patrons How consumers are likely to eat their salad Calculation of raw food costs of preparing a salad and how to price for your market segment The most important aspects of the salad besides the ingredients Our Study of Entree Salad Preferences We surveyed 5000 U.S. respondents with a diverse mix of respondents of ages, household incomes, regions, gender, and family dynamics on their entree salad preferences. 77.4% of respondents dine in at restaurants once a month, several times per month, or once per week. 67.9% of respondents usually, always, or occasionally order entree salads when they go to a restaurant. This percentage includes people who habitually eat salad entrees as well as those who prefer entree salads over the other options. Top Takeaways from Our Study Value, presentation, and portion Respondents reported that portion size, value for money, and presentation are the most important attributes they look for in an entree salad. Dietary requirements The least important attribute of an entree salad to the respondents surveyed was being sensitive to dietary requirements. This result, however, is likely because dietary requirements are less common amongst the general population. Therefore, it is not the priority of the majority of respondents. Although, you should always pay attention to dietary requirements. The increase of veganism in the past 5 years and the fact that salads are one of the few options available to vegans means that restaurants have a responsibility to offer adequate options. Seasonal vs Local and Organic Local and organic produce were attributes that scored lower on the importance scale for entree salads. This somewhat contradicts the high preference for ‘In Season’ ingredients. The fact that seasonal ingredients are highly favored could be linked to the price and freshness aspect rather than the eco-friendly aspect. Key components Respondents reported that the “lettuce type”, “fresh veggies” (that are not greens), and “dressing” are the most important and enticing aspects of a good entree salad. Getting these three things right is most likely to increase sales. Variety Our respondents were most intrigued by the variety of fresh veggies and cheeses that could be offered in their entree salad. Overall, men were more adventurous with their choices than women. Menu Development: Entree Salad Design Deciding on lettuce and greens Around 80% of respondents considered lettuce and greens to be the most important factor of an entree salad. This is not surprising as this often makes up the bulk of the salad composition, taste and presentation. The top choices for lettuce and greens options among our respondents were romaine lettuce, spring mix/mixed greens and spinach greens. The least favored choice in this category was kale. Kale had the largest portion of people who had tried it and disliked it. We could speculate that the distinct flavor profile and texture of kale makes it a harder sell than neutral, fresher tasting romaine lettuce. Including fresh vegetables The top three extra vegetables preferred by our surveyed respondents were tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots. Tomatoes and cucumbers were almost tied. Nearly 80% of respondents tried and liked, or tried and were indifferent about tomatoes and cucumbers. The most polarizing additions to an entree salad out of the top ten vegetables, were asparagus and yellow onion. Female respondents placed a larger importance factor on the extra vegetables than male respondents. The properties of a good dressing Dressings were the third most important factor to consumers. The top three dressing varieties chosen were Ranch, Italian and Caesar. Women preferred ranch dressing (68.7%) and men preferred Italian dressing (62.7%). Avocado Cilantro dressing was the least recognized dressing variety out of the top ten. The results are also the most polarizing with some respondents intrigued by it and some certain that they would not enjoy it. Order our Entree Salad Sample Dressing Kit Poultry wins for protein Chicken, hard boiled eggs and bacon were the three favorite protein additions for an entree salad. However, chicken was the clear winner with around 80% of respondents loving it or feeling neutral about it. Respondents were most curious about trying plant-based protein (24.3%), pulled pork (19%) and shredded beef (17.1%). The interest in plant-based protein could relate to the rise in veganism or the rise in more health-conscious decisions among the U.S. population in general. Addition of classic cheeses S. respondents had a strong preference for classic European cheeses on their entree salad. The top 4 choices were Fresh Mozzarella, Cheddar, Mozzarella and Parmesan. Female and male respondents aligned very closely with their top four choices of cheese. Respondents were most curious about trying plant-based cheese (26.2%), Cotija (21.7%) and Gouda (18.2%). Nuts and seeds highly favored as crunchy add-ons The response for crunchy add-on options were very mixed. However, croutons were the clear winners. Male (64.9%) and female (71.2%) respondents aligned closely with their preference of them. The second and third favorite crunchy add-ons overall were seeds and almonds respectively. These results were largely driven by the female respondents. Seeds yielded 64.8% preference in females and 55.3% preference in males. Almonds yielded 61.1% preference in females and 56.7% preference in males. Males overall preferred cashews (58.1%) and tortilla chips (57.4%) over seeds and almonds. Americans are open to fresh fruit in entree salads Out of the top seven potential ingredient components of an entree salad, fresh fruit ranked the least in importance. That said, male respondents were more open to experimenting with fresh fruit add-ons than females. Avocado ranked second overall as the most appealing fresh fruit addition, though this was largely driven by female respondents. Avocado was the top choice for female respondents (67.7%) followed by strawberries (65.7%). Male respondents were more open to a wide variety of fresh fruit additions. Their top three were strawberries (62.1%), apples (58.3%) and avocado (57.4%). Entree Salad Market Insights for Restaurant Menu Development The average main salad meal in U.S. restaurants costs $10. This average raises to $14.19 for midscale, contemporary casual dining, upscale casual dining and fine dining restaurants. Try these salads solutions that meet consumers' demand: Fresh Strawberry Avocado Chicken Salad Freshly diced strawberries, diced cucumbers, avocado (sliced or diced), shredded carrots, hard-boiled eggs, crispy diced pancetta (or bacon), shredded Monterey jack cheese and pecans, served with grilled chicken on a bed of fresh mixed greens. Drizzled with a choice of our Litehouse® Homestyle Ranch or Avocado Cilantro Ranch Modern Chicken Caprese Salad A spin on an Italian classic - grilled chicken breast marinated and served on a bed of romaine. Topped with crispy pancetta, fresh mozzarella, dried cranberries, grape tomatoes and a slice of grilled ciabatta bread. Enjoyed with our Litehouse® Balsamic dressing. Buffalo Ranch Chicken Salad Garden spinach salad with spicy buffalo chicken and served with cooling Litehouse® Ranch Dressing.   The Perfect Entree Salad: Menu Opportunity Gap By our analysis, there is an opportunity gap for entree salads that include the following components: Spring mix or romaine lettuce as a base. Cucumber, carrots and tomatoes are three consumer favorites. (Though tomatoes are highly favored, they appear in a large number of salads. Cucumbers and carrots are underrepresented.) Ranch, Italian or Caesar dressing Chicken for a universally loved salad. Bacon if targeting men. Hard boiled eggs if targeting women. Mozzarella is underutilized considering how highly favored it is with respondents. It only appears on 4.6% of entree salads. There is an opportunity here to present something different to the market. We hope that this was a helpful resource in designing the perfect entree salad for your restaurant menu. We aim to bring you research-backed insights to help you with your menu development process. To get even more insights from our entree salad study and receive our recipe recommendations for enticing, well-presented and flavorful entree salads, you can explore our resources in the link below!

All About Limited Time Offers (LTOs) 1.1

The Opportunity Limited-Time Offer -- We’ve all heard the phrase before but what exactly is an LTO? Why are LTO’s important? What can an LTO do for your restaurant? How do you plan an effective LTO program? How do you train staff to execute the program properly each time? Follow this blog series to discover what you need to consider while crafting, implementing, and adjusting your existing or new LTO Program. What is an LTO? A Limited Time Offering (LTO) is an item added to a menu for a short time frame. It should be planned and have a specific purpose. It is like a Special, but it is not discounted in price. It is also like a Feature, but it is not a signature item. LTOs are time-bound to reinforce the notion of being unique and fleeting, which is motivating to patrons. Utilize an LTO when the following is needed... Representation of seasonal, competitive, on-trend, or locally-relevant flavors. Balancing business in the offseason. Reinforcement of the restaurant brand/origin/roots/difference. Broadening appeal to new patrons, new occasions, new day parts. Creating a sense of urgency (change patron habits, induce more frequent visits). Testing ideas for future offerings on an ongoing basis. The most successful LTO programs are developed with specific goals in mind -- goals that support the overall business objectives. It is important to outline the goals of an LTO program before you start. In the industry, there are five types of LTO concepts in which help to craft goals of a program. Five Types of LTOs are: Broad Appeal > Engage Core Guests Re-imagined Heroes > Engage Core Guests & Drive traffic Emerging Flavors & Trends > Drive New Traffic Diet Centric Niche Item > Drive New Traffic Novelty Item > Generate Buzz It is key to remember that there is no “right” answer when choosing an LTO concept. Each concept serves a purpose, and it must be decided which concept will best support the menu develop and brand strategy. Additionally, it is important to allow the process to unfold for development, testing, implementation, and assessment. Creating a program that utilizes three or four LTO items a year allows you to react and adjust operationally. It also allows your patrons to experience the special offerings a few times. This helps to unlock the full potential of the Limited-Time Offer for your team, the business, and your valued patrons. Who can benefit from an LTO Program? If you have interest in an LTO, here are factors to consider if it’s right for you.= Essentially, any food seller can benefit from an LTO program. From single-venue food trucks to large restaurant operations with multiple locations and national accounts, including a variety of menus and service models. Think about it -- Starbucks offers Pumpkin Spice Lattes only during the fall season. Taco Bell has a revolving door of LTO items that cycle out monthly. The consistent theme in these examples is that each operator follows an LTO program, not just a one-off item or event. Though the approaches are different, each program benefits the operator’s menu development and brand strategy. If you can do the following, you can benefit from an LTO program... establish goals for the program that connect back to business objectives. obtain new ingredients that are not currently on the menu. use infrastructure to hold new inventory. train front-of-house and back-of-house staff. promote the new item (verbally, with signage, on the menu, digitally). Whether you are looking to increase sales, give your current patrons something to look forward to, entice your future patrons to visit, or to boost your profits, an LTO program can be your solution! Why should you choose an LTO Program? Once you realize that you can develop an LTO program, consider if you should. Perhaps you have tried an LTO and found it to be complicated.  According to Restaurant Business Online,

All About Limited Time Offers (LTOs) 1.2

The Solution Limited-Time Offers (LTO’s) can be an important part of a restaurant’s appeal to patrons as well as a strategic tool to stay current with trends, fend-off competition, and improve the bottom line.  In the prior section (THE OPPORTUNITY), we defined LTO’s, gave an overview of the benefits, and outlined reasons to choose an LTO program.  In the coming section, (THE SOLUTION), we will offer guidance for developing a team, determining items, crafting a plan, and getting feedback about your existing or new LTO program. Creating an LTO Development Team Now that you have decided you should develop and LTO program, it’s important to include key people. There are many benefits of an LTO program, and once program goals are outlined, it’s time to gather your team to determine the right LTO items for your operation and patrons (current and future). When starting this process, you need to ensure that you have the right people involved. This allows for assurance that the program is feasible and that there is buy-in across the board. When making menu changes, be sure to include the essential players: chefs/culinary team, menu committee, operations team, and marketing team. Determining LTO Items With the right people involved, now comes the food part! After you’ve assembled your team, it’s time to create some exciting, tasty ideas. Bring forward any recipe ideas developed by you or your team. Reach out to multiple sources for inspiration, including suppliers and vendors. Industry research shows that the Key Themes from 2020 Best-in-Class LTOs were: Items with Brand Mentions Items with “Rich” Mentions Pumpkin Lattes Items with Chocolate or White Chocolate Mentions of “Sweet” or “Sweetened” Plant-Based Meats Berry Beverages Items with “Fresh” Mentions Beef Dishes Spicy Handhelds Coffee-Based Drinks “Melted” Cheese Mentions (Source: Technomic Ignite, “30 Best-in-Class LTOs for 2020,” 2021) While developing ideas to meet trends or to simply be a bit more creative, consider the following for inspiration... new items/flavors/sauces from suppliers like Litehouse. seasonal items (for holidays and for regional/special events). recipe ideas you’ve been considering for your ongoing menu. items that are "outside of the box” and have emerging mass appeal. connection with future items in your LTO program. global cuisine. plant-based alternatives. ideas/suggestions developed by vendors. When describing your LTO item remember these Do’s and Don’ts: DO: Give enough detail to differentiate and inform. Weaker Example: “A ¼ pound patty, American cheese, pickles, mustard, and ketchup on a sesame seed bun. Stronger Example “Freshly prepared, hand-pattied, 100% ground beef stuffed with shredded cheddar and topped with bacon-onion jam. Served on a toasted bun with crisp lettuce, fresh tomatoes, red onions, dill pickles and Duke’s mayonnaise. DON’T: Get too specific or forget to describe the taste. Weaker Example: Bite-sized rounds of diced potatoes and melted American cheese covered in breading. Stronger Example “Crunchy outside; gooey cheese & warm potato inside. (Source: Technomic Ignite, The Five Types of LTOs, April 2020) Crafting an Effective LTO Plan With recipe ideas explored, now comes more of the business side. It is critical to outline goals for your LTO program and ensure they are aligned with your overall business objectives. After your LTO concept is set, you’ve explored and selected an item to start with, you’ll need to ensure the plan will be effective. In order to craft an effective LTO plan, you need to: understand patron preferences. develop recipe concepts. select a supplier to provide distribution and consistency. calculate raw food cost and patron price point to determine gross margin (use patron price point calculator). understand preparation and handling differences. determine marketing methods to be used. assess execution feasibility and quality. plan timing and duration. Getting Feedback from Patrons and Employees When goals and price points set, it’s time to outline testing. Even with strong planning, the real success of an LTO program will be determined when it is live and in action. Before you launch your new item into a busy Saturday service, you need to test the execution and work out any kinks. Testing provides insight from both patrons and employees. With this information, gauge the anticipated success of the item/program success before launching on a larger scale and investing in marketing spending. Before starting the test, determine the metrics and parameters for the testing cycle. Outline your biggest concerns (execution, taste, promotion, etc.) Order a variety of samples from suppliers. Perform taste tests with staff and some patrons. Get images of the ingredients/item for marketing (Check with vendors for this.)

All About Limited Time Offers (LTOs) 1.3

Implementation Limited-Time Offers (LTO’s) can be an important part of a restaurant’s appeal to patrons as well as a strategic tool to stay current with trends, fend-off competition, and improve the bottom line.  In the prior section (THE SOLUTION), we offered guidance for developing a team, determining items, crafting a plan, and getting feedback about your existing or new LTO program.  In the coming section, (IMPLEMENTATION), we will review launching the LTO to FOH/BOH (and other locations) and determining adjustments for LTO programs. Launching the LTO to FOH, BOH and Other Locations. Knowing how testing will be done allows the next big step… launching! Often, operators blame implementation and execution as the reason their LTO program isn’t successful. Because you’ve planned and tested prior to launch, you are more prepared for the launch. Though this is true, anticipate common pitfalls before they occur. The most common pitfalls involve… training back/front-of-house. executing properly. raising customer awareness. encouraging sales. wasting product. placing the item properly on the menu. distributing efficiently to all locations.

Entree Salads that Deliver

In the age of off-premises dining, restaurants need to develop salads that can go the distance. A colorful salad tossed in a flavorful dressing and topped with some crunchy bits can be a satisfying meal when served at a restaurant. But take that same salad, stuff it into a plastic to-go container and ship it across town by car or on the back of a bicycle, and the result is likely to be an unappetizing jumble of limp lettuce. With the majority of restaurant traffic continuing to occur outside of dining rooms, according to the latest research from Datassential, operators need to reimagine how they prepare and package take-out and delivery meals—especially entrée salads. Ingredients that Go Just about any food—from fresh greens and pickled vegetables to hearty proteins and warm grains—is fair game in a salad these days. However, not every ingredient travels well. Here are some things to consider when building salads for take-out and delivery: Choose robust lettuce. Romaine, a top green among consumers, is sturdy enough to travel. Other greens that are popular and hold up well include spinach and iceberg. Save more tender greens, such as mesclun, Little Gem or Bibb, for dine-in dishes. Cut to order. Versatile avocado and crunchy apple are among the top fresh fruits many consumers enjoy in entrée salads, but both tend to brown quickly once exposed to oxygen. To prevent browning, cut avocado and apple one at a time as needed. Separate the crunchy bits. Croutons, tortilla chips, wanton strips, nuts and seeds are among the crispy salad toppings popular with consumers. To avoid losing the crunch, send these items on the side. Consider composed salads. Offer such selections such as a Mexican Street Corn Chopped Salad with tangy, smoky, and spicy grilled corn tossed in Jalapeno Ranch dressing  that can be prepared in advance and hold up well over time. Dress to impress. Classic dressings remain popular, but many consumers are interested in tossing their salad with bolder flavor combinations, such as jalapeño ranch or Avocado Cilnatro Ranch. Whatever the dressing, prevent salad sogginess by packaging it on the side. Perfect Packaging It may not be possible to deliver salads looking the same way they’re plated on premises, but the right take-out packaging can ensure the integrity of the dish and create a memorable experience. It all starts with finding a container that fits. If the container is too large, the salad will slosh around. If it’s too small, ingredients will get smashed. For salads that contain ingredients such as cooked grains or proteins that are intended to be consumed warm, it’s also important to choose packaging that helps retain moisture and temperature. Hot foods that are not packaged correctly release condensation into containers, making for soggy salads. Rather than tossing ingredients together before packaging, some operators arrange them artfully on top of the lettuce in quadrants, and then put dressing in separate containers on the side. In fact, pleasing presentation is one of the most important attributes of an entrée salad for U.S. consumers.