Cancel OK

Fresh produce can star in ghost kitchens

As produce marketers consider how they might fit into the foodservice trend of ghost kitchens, some may be asking themselves, what’s a ghost kitchen?

Don’t worry, many consumers don’t know what they are either. In a recent survey from Datassential, only 29 percent of consumers were familiar with ghost kitchens, with the remaining 71 percent saying they hadn’t heard of them before taking the survey.

A ghost kitchen is a delivery-only concept without a consumer-facing location, often combined with other concepts in the same location.
Meanwhile, a similar trend, the virtual brand, is a delivery-only concept operating from an existing restaurant.

According to Datassential’s survey, three out of five consumers think it’s cool when a restaurant creates a new brand with different food for delivery only.

During United Fresh’s BB #:145458 quarterly Fresh Insights for Foodservice webinar May 11, Datassential’s Mike Kostyo explained that fresh produce can do well in the ghost kitchen and virtual brand concepts because they photograph well, and many fruits and vegetables do well in delivery.

“Visual appeal can be an uphill battle for delivery-only fare,” according to the Spring 2021 report. “Between the packaging, handling, and travel time, what the consumer receives isn’t always what the operator intended. Look to fresh produce to brighten up dull dishes and provide color contrast that can make foods more enticing. When it comes to fan-favorite delivery and takeout dishes like pizza, burgers, and chicken wings, a pop of color can go a long way to enhance visual appeal.”

Both concepts have done well in the pandemic and lockdowns because there are significantly lower costs and barriers to entry. That also makes them a legitimate competitor to existing foodservice companies and brands.

One menu item that does well with delivery is the parfait, which offers many fresh produce options.

Kostyo says the traditional parfait with yogurt and granola can pair with many fruit options, with pineapples, oranges, and lemons showing the most growth. Berries and bananas remain the top menued produce items in the category.

Kostyo says the vast majority of parfaits are in the sweet taste profile, but he has seen BBQ restaurants offer parfaits with meat, mashed potatoes, and green vegetables as a twist.

In overall foodservice trends, Kostyo says consumers claim they are ready to see new concepts in restaurants, and the two areas they want to see the most are in healthy food and comfort food.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services and can't see any ghost kitchens