By Jill Haapaniemi
After looking over QSR Magazine’s trends for 2013, I can’t help but see how blueberries can play a vital role in satisfying the needs of quick service customers. Here are just a few reasons why thinking blue will help meet consumer needs this year—and beyond.
More Fruits and Veggies
“Quick-service restaurants have never been short on vegetable and fruit offerings—potatoes for french fries; tomatoes, lettuce, and onions on burgers; and various items in salads—but customers will expect more fruit and vegetable variety on menus, the experts say.” Blueberries, whether fresh, frozen or dried, provide both sweet and savory options that go beyond salads and parfaits; from sauces and dressings to breads and sandwiches, incorporating them into menus will give customers diverse and exciting fruit choices. Blueberry Chicken Salad Tacos are a tasty option for a quick-serve, handheld menu item!
Healthy Kids’ Meals
“Healthful and creative kids’ meals will continue to make an impression on the quick-service industry.” While parents recognize the importance of their kids’ diets, it doesn’t mean they have more time to make nutritious home-cooked meals every night. Rather, they will look to quick service restaurants that do less frying, more grilling and include fresh produce for their children. Blueberries—bright, fun, naturally sweet and wholesome—are an easy addition to breakfast, items, salads and desserts. The addition of blueberries to QSR menus can impress parents and might help kids become more comfortable and enthusiastic about eating healthier food. For a great kids’ meal idea, try Blueberry Dessert Pizza.
Snacks as a Meal
“A wide range of influences—around-the-clock eating, customer demand for flexible portions and prices, the food-truck and street-food craze, and operators’ need to move beyond price cutting on core menu items, to name a few—will keep snacking a hot trend this year.” Snacking throughout the day rather than eating three squares is increasingly common; smart operators are adding grab-and-go and other small portion options to menus. Looking for snack ideas that can keep customers coming back for more? What’s easier than blueberries? No peeling, chopping or pitting needed. Keep in mind that yogurt parfaits give customers a small meal in a cup. Make gorgeous parfaits with layers of yogurt, granola or cookie crumbs and Saucy Blueberries.
This year, “the trend is toward fresh fruit beverages, natural energy drinks, and various local offerings, such as house-made sodas.” Coinciding with the healthy-living movement, smoothies and juices have consumers gulping down their daily vitamins. Blueberries are the perfect drink ingredient for on-the-go customers. Blended, muddled, or whole, they bring a fun punch of color and natural sweetness to a wide variety of beverages. For a healthy blueberry beverage, check out this Blueberry Ginger Soda, developed by the chefs at the Culinary Institute of America.
As an Assistant Account Executive, Jill provides strategic marketing and public relations services for clients in CRT/tanaka’s Food, Beverage, and Nutrition practice. Her strong interest in food and nutrition has led to her work with clients including the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Avocados from Mexico, and the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission.