With the arrival of the New Year, foodservice professionals pay special attention to what researchers predict as the next big trend for the industry. On the non-commercial side, beverages are always important, and smoothies stand out with the largest growth potential according to a recent article in Foodservice Director.
So what exactly IS a smoothie? In addition to fresh fruit, many smoothies include ice, frozen fruit, syrups, or even vegetables. They have a milkshake-like consistency that is thicker than a slushie. They also often contain a dairy-component such as milk, yogurt or ice cream. What’s best in a smoothie? Anything you want: fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, seeds, oats, protein powders, herbs, spices, yogurt, milk, juice…the ingredient possibilities are endless. The benefits of this beverage is the versatility of the ingredients you can include and as diverse as the kitchen ingredients currently on the shelf, in the refrigerator or with your local supplier or farmer’s market.
Foodservice Director says that blended drinks will rule the roost in the C&U market. That makes sense as students are on the go and lean towards a quick meal or snack to keep them going. Surviving on a college budget, a $5 smoothie for a meal replacement is attractive. Also, this youthful market is flooded with information through technology 24/7. They hear the latest news on nutrition and disease prevention which greatly impacts their buying behavior and lifestyle choices.
In healthcare, smoothies are an easy way for people to take in essential nutrients on their time schedule regardless of ability. Smoothies are easy to sip, fresh and flavorful, and provide a cool, refreshing meal replacement or snack for patients, visitors, and staff. Plus, smoothies can be easily tailored to meet nutritional goals with the addition of nutrients and healthful supplements.
Overall, consumers are looking for healthier drink choices and smoothies answer the call with a variety of fruit, seed and vegetable ingredients. “Superfoods” have been buzzing lately: chia seeds, coconut oil, flax seeds, Acai berries, hemp, and Cacao powder to name a few. Another trend is rotating leafy greens like kale, cabbage, bok choy, chard, beet greens, and carrot tops into these vitamin rich drinks to increase energy, detox, prevent disease, and/or slim down.
If you’re looking to add a “winner” to your 2015 beverage menu, it is definitely worth considering smoothies. Commercial and non-commercial markets show growth potential, with C&U and Hospitals showing the most promise. However, with the millennial population growing in purchase power, restaurants, fast casual, fast food and frozen yogurt and ice cream shops should be ready for increasing demand.