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Surprise: kids want more control in restaurants

Sure, kids want tasty, satisfying meals when eating out, just like their parents, but what they really want is control.

Customization in kids’ menus is one of the top trends in foodservice, said Mike Kostyo, trendologist for Datassential, the company behind the United Fresh Produce Association’s BB #:145458 Fresh Insights for Foodservice Fall 2019 report.

For example, “A fruit bowl for kids offers customization and gives them control over what they order,” Kostyo said.

Pears were a fruit the report focused on, and they are being used in more creative ways, such as in fruit bowls, on pizzas and in drinks.

Parents have been asking for healthier items on kids’ menus, and most operators have responded. Now they’re asking for more variety.

This is an area fruits and vegetables can shine, Kostyo said.

He said the grilled cheese sandwich has always been a kids’ menu go-to item, and now all kinds of fresh produce are finding their way in between the bread.

Another produce item that can grow in foodservice is the banana. Kostyo said Datassential’s survey shows 82 percent of consumers love or like bananas, so while the fruit has high menu penetration, it can grow.

“For instance, food on a stick is good and it entertains kids as well,” he said, noting that Omni Hotels have a banana on a skewer dipped in honey and then cereal.

“Hotels show a lot of innovation with kids’ menus,” Kostyo said.

Regarding customization and variety, he said a survey from a few years ago shows that’s where consumers and operators are far apart, and operators should close that gap.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services and amateur trendologist