The American trends hitting wholesale
Even if Donald Trumps “hamberders” aren’t your thing, Wholesale News discovers a raft of US products that might be
The United States of America has always led the way when it comes to the latest consumer trends or cutting-edge fashion, and there’s little sign of that changing. And with British culture so similar to that of our brothers and sisters from across the pond, new fads in the States are never too far from arriving on our shores.
One of the places where we can find most evidence of that is on our plates, with some of the classic imports, such as burgers, hot dogs and pizzas, not immune to the changing face of consumer tastes and habits.
But while some of those traditional favourites may have come hand in hand with visions of a Supersize Me culture, the focus on health and quality mean that it’s no good to simply churn out same products nowadays. If people are more conscious about what they put into their bodies, it means that when they are going to treat themselves, it had better be worth it.
“American products are still hugely popular wherever you go,” Brakes’ Food Marketing Manager Becky Hover tells Wholesale News.
“Perennial favourites, such as burgers and hot dogs, are now being personalised and premiumised with innovative toppings and accompanying sides. In addition, macaroni cheese is now being used not only as a main dish, but also as a topping for burgers, as well as being crumbled over hot dogs.
“Burgers are versatile and can be adapted to suit all price points. Using a quality burger and bun should be a starting point, and the caterer can add any number of toppings and relishes to create a memorable burger.”
Just look at the high street and the growth in the desire for customisation is clear to see.
While that can be trickier – but not impossible – to translate to a retail market, it’s fast becoming a crucial ingredient for foodservice outlets to offer to their customers. That filters back up the stream to wholesalers, so offering a range of ingredients that can boost their menus. While getting those in-vogue flavours on your list is key.
MAKE IT PERSONAL
“By keeping up to date with the latest trends, wholesalers will not only be catering for their customers, but also their customers’ customers,” says Brand Manager Jessie McCarthy from Big Al’s Foodservice.
“It’s now expected for brands to fulfil customer needs and demands, with Technomic reporting 72% of consumers expect to be able to customise the dishes they order. Whether it’s offering a range of toppings, condiments or salads, or allowing side orders to be mixed and matched, this trend is easy for operators to tap into using Big Al’s products – making them a must-stock in depot.”
According to McCarthy, that trend stretches into snacking too, inspiring Big Al’s Pizza Twists and Sausage Pattie, which is providing a taste of America that can be picked up at any time of day.
Despite the success of those products, it’s not enough to just push out the same styles though. A big market that highlights the healthy trend that’s taken over the US and the UK is the growth in the sweet potato. For decades, the perfect accompaniment to burgers and hot dogs was easy: it was French fries made from normal potatoes. Now, Aviko Commercial Director Mohammed Esa says that consumers want to take the edge off their indulgence by making sweet potato their spud of choice.
“America has such an important part to play in the potato market, helping to shape the future trends that will be enjoyed around the world,” explains Esa. “One American favourite that’s going from strength to strength in the UK is the sweet potato. The demand for sweet potato fries has really grown out of home in recent years, with our research showing 85% of consumers would opt for a sweet potato side over a regular potato dish.
“The growing appeal of sweet potatoes shows no sign of slowing, especially as a staggering 66% of people think there are currently not enough sweet potato options available.”
QUALITY IS KEY
The changes have been noted by Jason Beaumont, a director from PW Brands which owns Dino’s Famous, a brand inspired by the street food and delis of Brooklyn.
“As consumers’ tastes have changed, so have products within the sector,” Beaumont says. “Consumers are now more conscious about the quality of products and the impact that they have on their health. As such, consumers are increasingly looking for products that can deliver strong quality credentials and great taste.”
For wholesalers that means keeping tabs on what’s going on across the Atlantic. Thankfully for your bottom line, that doesn’t mean regular food tours to the US – although Wholesale News wouldn’t mind – and Brakes’ Hover believes there are some places much closer to home that will reveal the latest tastes that need your attention.
“Look no further than American-style food outlets on any high street, and burger joints are always a good place to start,” she adds. “You’ll find dishes that use the latest ingredients and are bang on trend. With a little imagination it’s relatively easy to take these ideas and replicate them in-house.”
And with Hover keeping such a close eye on American trends, what’s her tip for the next must-stock product?
“When it comes to trends, then freakshakes are a decadent addition to any American menu,” she replies. “They’re taking milkshakes and floats to another level through a mixture of flavours and toppings, including cake!”