Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Trending Flavors and Ingredients on the Menu including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

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What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

The foodservice industry has been one of the most significantly impacted by COVID-19 and the subsequent fallout. Operator innovation has been forced to primarily focus on adapting business and service models to keep traffic flowing. Consumer priorities have shifted and diners are making individual decisions to conservatively return to on-premise dining, takeout and delivery, in terms of both health and spending. Operators that turned to menu trimming and menu innovation with a focus on value, safety and wellness have dominated.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Alyssa Hangartner, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The foodservice industry is undoubtedly one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and operators have rearranged business models, menu offerings and demonstrated unmatched agility to continue servicing customers. Much of this year’s innovation prioritized operations but as we enter the next stages of industry recovery, focused menu innovation aligning with diner priorities and palates will help operators keep consumers excited and engaged through the coming year
Alyssa Hangartner
Food & Drink Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Definition
          • COVID-19: market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top takeaways
                • Figure 1: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and limited-service eating places*, at current prices, 2015-25
                • Figure 2: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and limited-service eating places*, at current prices, 2015-25
              • Impact of COVID-19 on foodservice
                • Figure 3: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on foodservice, October 2020
              • Challenges and opportunities
                • Reemergence
                  • Figure 4: Coronavirus spending priorities, September 17-25, 2020
                  • Figure 5: Restaurant attitudes regarding COVID-19 – NETs, July 2020
                  • Figure 6: Interest in new flavor trial by menu item, July 2020
                • Recovery
                  • Figure 7: Cuisine interest, by generation, July 2020
                  • Figure 8: Interest and experience with trending flavors on the menu, July 2020
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • Quick, convenient segments see highest visitation
                  • COVID-19 has dampened discovery
                    • Changing demographic landscape will create a flavorful future
                    • Market Size and Forecast

                      • Pandemic and ensuing recession lead to slow recovery
                        • Figure 9: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and limited-service eating places*, at current prices, 2015-25
                        • Figure 10: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and limited-service eating places*, at current prices, 2015-25
                    • Market Breakdown

                      • Quick and casual restaurants capture largest share of consumers
                        • Figure 11: Restaurant visitation, July 2020
                      • Younger generations are highly driven by convenience
                        • Figure 12: Restaurant visitation, by generation, July 2020
                    • Market Factors

                      • Consumers cut out foodservice spending during financial hardship
                        • Figure 13: Unemployment and underemployment, August 2019-August 2020
                      • Diverse population means diverse palates
                        • Figure 14: Percentage change in population, by race and Hispanic origin, 2015-25
                        • Figure 15: Interest in international flavors on menus, by race and Hispanic origin, July 2020
                      • Highly popular fusion cuisine represents growing diversity
                        • Figure 16: Percentage change in cuisine type on US menus, Q4 2015-19
                      • Food halls combine convenience and innovation
                        • Figure 17: Interest in menu innovation, by typical restaurant visitation, July 2020
                      • Online ordering is essential, but discovery has slowed
                        • Figure 18: Restaurant attitudes regarding COVID-19
                      • Retail flavor trends
                        • Figure 19: Directionally fast-growing flavors in new US food* product launches, July 2018-Sept 2020
                    • Market Opportunities

                      • Prioritize plant-based ingredients
                        • Figure 20: Vegetable flavor consumption, by age, July 2020
                      • Make the holidays meaningful
                        • Figure 21: Interest in seasonal menu innovation, July 2020
                    • Brands – What You Need to Know

                      • Fast food innovation caters to comfort
                        • Better for you innovation grows in fast casual
                          • Global flavors fill the void of travel and exploration
                          • What’s Trending – Fast Food and Fast Casual

                            • Growth of Southern comfort food aligns with consumer cravings
                              • Korean cuisine and flavors on the rise in fast casual
                                • Figure 22: Interest in Korean cuisine, by generation, July 2020
                              • Evolving nutrition trends drive demand for low- and no-carb options
                                • Figure 23: Menu innovation by restaurant segment, July 2020
                            • What’s Trending – Casual and Fine Dining

                              • Global flavors take consumers on an adventure
                                • Figure 24: Directionally growing flavors on US menus, Q4 2016-19
                              • Latin flavors bring bold spices and rich smokiness to the table
                                • Mushrooms combine wellness with savory, earthy flavor
                                  • Figure 25: Consumption of savory and earthy flavor families, July 2020
                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                • Unfamiliar ingredients fare well in small portions
                                  • Vegetables and spices are solidifying their place on the plate
                                    • Young generations are seeking out emerging cuisines
                                    • Menu Innovation Interest

                                      • Introduce new ingredients and flavors in small doses
                                        • Figure 26: New flavor trial by menu item, July 2020
                                      • Small indulgences appeal to young consumers
                                        • Figure 27: New flavor trial by menu item, by generation, July 2020
                                      • Start with comfort foods and custom options, stand out with distinctive ingredients
                                        • Figure 28: Menu innovation, July 2020
                                      • Young generations drive demand for alternative and functional ingredients
                                        • Figure 29: Menu innovation, by generation, July 2020
                                      • Local ties strong in nonurban regions
                                        • Figure 30: Menu innovation, by area, July 2020
                                    • Trending Flavor Families

                                      • Plants, peppers and savory flavors are on the rise
                                        • Figure 31: Flavor families, July 2020
                                      • Young consumer palates are diversifying
                                        • Figure 32: Flavor families, by generation, July 2020
                                      • Sweet flavor combinations are set up for success
                                        • Figure 33: Flavor combinations, July 2020
                                      • Smoky and spicy flavor combinations appeal to men
                                        • Figure 34: Interest in combination flavors, by gender, July 2020
                                    • Interest in Regional and International Cuisine

                                      • Emerging international cuisines have yet to capture wide adoption
                                        • Figure 35: Cuisine interest, July 2020
                                      • Gen Z consumers lead interest in emerging cuisines
                                        • Figure 35: Cuisine interest, by generation, July 2020
                                      • Italian cuisine gets a COVID boost
                                        • Figure 37: Italian cuisine consumption, Emerging International Cuisine Tracker, May 2020
                                      • Interest in Asian cuisine shifts among Gen Z consumers
                                        • Figure 38: International cuisine consumption, Gen Z, Emerging International Cuisine Tracker, May 2020
                                    • Interest and Experience in Emerging Flavors

                                      • Consumer adoption lags behind foodservice trends
                                        • Figure 39: Experience and interest in trending flavors on US menus, July 2020
                                        • Figure 40: Percentage growth of flavor on US Menus, Q4 2015-19
                                      • Emerging international flavors still require introduction
                                        • Figure 41: Correspondence analysis – Principal map – Interest in flavor by menu item, July 2020
                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                      • Data sources
                                        • Sales data
                                          • Forecast
                                            • Consumer survey data
                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                • Abbreviations
                                                  • Terms
                                                  • Appendix – The Market

                                                      • Figure 42: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and limited-service eating places*, at current prices, 2015-25

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