Snacks that stand in for meals, a preference for cleaner eating and flavor profiles that break out of traditional boundaries: These trends, and more, are fueling
an appetite for soups and salads in both restaurants and
groceries’ prepared foods departments.
Soup and salad also align with growing demand for takeout
options, as both lend themselves to portability and their
quality typically doesn’t suffer during the trip.
According to a 2016 study by ielsen, 66% of consumers said
they were eating healthier than they were two years before.
early the same percentage said eating a healthy diet is a
challenge—one that restaurants and grocers can help them
conquer by offering soups and salads.
What do consumers deem healthy? The ielsen study
found that terms like “made from vegetables/fruits,” “high in
protein” and “high in fiber”—all potential qualities of both
soup and salad—scored highest among consumers.
Among consumers who don’t purchase soup and salad away
from home, about a quarter say it’s because they can easily
make these items themselves, according to Technomic’s 2016
Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad report. By challenging
that perception and providing something unexpected
and craveable, salad-centric and soup-centric concepts
like Tender Greens, Sweetgreen and Zoup! have thrived.
Sophisticated flavors, reliance on premium ingredients and
providing imaginative choices that break out of the Caesar
salad and chicken noodle soup mold are keeping these
A number of approaches can help drive salad and soup
• Offering more than one portion size gives customers the ability
to tailor their order to their appetite and budget.
• Similarly, a choice of proteins provides a customized experience
and emphasizes a made-to-order message. And offering a
vegetarian “meat” or high-protein grain substitute will win
over vegetarians accustomed to salads sans protein.
• Garnishes—a swirl of herb-infused oil, a dollop of sour cream,
fresh chopped herbs, house-made croutons or crackers--can
turn a “plain” soup into something memorable.
• Two-fer deals provide value and allow guests to customize.
Suggesting complementary combos will help facilitate orders.
• Both soups and salads should change with the seasons. Lighter
broth-based soups, gazpachos and other bowls packed with
fresh vegetables will sell in the summer; heartier creamed and
pureed varieties will fare better in cooler months. Cool-weather
salads similarly can take on heartier grains, roasted vegetables
and heavier flavors when there’s a chill in the air.
• Regardless of the time of year, presenting both healthier
options and more indulgent selections will appeal to a broader
CONSUMERS GIVE SOUP, SALAD A CLOSER LOOK