Easy Ways to Take Advantage of the Small Plates Trend

Published on: 04/16/2018 in Culinary Trends

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Appetizers are booming right now. Small, shareable plates have been recently trending, with 22% of top restaurant chains offering them.1  From a patron perspective, appetizers provide an easy, less pricey way to experiment with new flavors and cuisines.2 From an operator perspective, appetizers can be a check-boosting opportunity and are often less costly to prepare.3 They also allow chefs to experiment with new menu ideas.3 Regardless of your operators’ restaurant focus; there are several ways they can take advantage of the booming demand for small plates.

With 85% of restaurants serving appetizers,3 they are a fairly common menu item. So how do operators differentiate their small plate offerings? It’s important to know what drives diners’ ordering decisions.  Great taste tops the list of important attributes for 84% of consumers, followed by value (72%), quality of options (72%), cost (72%), and visual appeal (69%).3 Restaurant patrons are also inclined to order items they don’t typically prepare at home.1

Protein is an essential ingredient in many of the hot trends in appetizers and small plates.1 In fact, Technomic reports that chicken wings are both the leading and the fastest-growing appetizer at the Top 500 Limited Service Restaurants.2 Chicken wings are the most common item on appetizer menus, closely followed by french fries, jalapeño poppers and calamari.1

From boneless to breaded, Perdue Foodservice offers a variety of chicken wing products to appeal to your customers. PERDUE® Fully Cooked Spicy Buffalo Glazed Chicken Wings satisfy chicken wing purists while PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® Fully Cooked Breaded Chicken Breast Chunks are certified gluten-free to satisfy customers with food sensitivities and are raised with NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER. PERDUE® Fully Cooked Jumbo Rotisserie Chicken Wings have more meat on the bone so they provide a heartier meal. Encourage your operators to get creative—the versatile chicken wing can be used in an array of small plate applications. For example, offering multiple sauce flavors can boost orders while serving a chicken wing “flight” or tasting is a fun way to get customers to sample different signature sauced wings. Visit Perduefoodservice.com to view a great selection of appetizer recipes including Thai style turkey lettuce wraps and organic chicken breast with warm spring bulgur.

Many foodservice operations have taken notice of the appetizer trend and created in-restaurant appetizer promotions to drive sales. Last year, TGI FRIDAY’S successfully launched an “Endless Apps” promotion, offering diners an endless array of appetizers like mozzarella sticks and Buffalo wings—all for $12.3 Meanwhile, Applebee’s has developed “a new platform” of appetizers with bold flavors and premium ingredients such as Salsa Verde Brisket Nachos, Kobe-style Meatballs and Double-Crunch Bone-In Wings.4

With the growing demand for appetizers and small plates, it’s time to inspire your operators to get creative with their menu. Since 39% of patrons order appetizers and about 30% order small plates on all or most of their restaurant visits,2 there’s a great opportunity to increase return customers. And with strong brand appeal, fresh and flavorful Perdue Foodservice products can satisfy your operators’ needs while meeting their customers demand for high-quality proteins. The Perdue family of brands brings operators a portfolio of products created to deliver great taste, convenience and quality. From classic items to products raised on a 100% vegetarian diet with no animal by-products and NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER to USDA Certified Organic Fresh and Frozen Chicken, your operators will discover delicious proteins to build their appetizer and small plate sales.

1 Food Business News, “All About Appetizers,” 6/8/15
2 The National Provisioner, “Snacks, sides and appetizers offer a side of meat to dinner platters,” 1/11/16
3 Datessential, “Appetizers Latest Trends and Research” 4/15/15
4 Prepared Foods, “New Foodservice Products: Snacks Appetizers,” 5/9/15