CHICAGO -- Soup and salad, once the epitome of wholesome options, have been somewhat overshadowed in recent years by the health halo of wraps, protein bowls and international dishes. In fact, consumption of soup and salad is down across all restaurant segments since 2015, according to Technomic’s Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite. But not for the retail channel. Sales of soup and salad at c-stores have remained steady as the industry continues to build out its foodservice offerings. But as consumers start to expect more from convenience-store food, sales could begin to dip, as well.
Here are three ways retailers can surge ahead of soup and salad trends ...
1. Invest in variety
Hardcore salad lovers are looking for a garden-fresh experience, according to the report. Superheavy and heavy salad users are more likely than their counterparts to opt for freshly prepared salads over prepackaged options in stores, according to the report. However, more frugal customers might appreciate an array of price points. For instance, 58% of bargain hunters, or consumers driven by low prices, opt for cost-effective ready-to-heat over ready-to-eat soups.
2. Think outside the can
Offering flavor profiles that go beyond chicken noodle and creamy tomato can also help operators ladle up more sales. The biggest deterrent to soup purchases is when consumers feel like they can easily make the item at home, according to the report. Developing a soup with premium ingredients such as lobster or global components such as raita, an Indian yogurt-based condiment, could help improve the value perception of the item. On the leafy green side, consumers are less likely to pay extra for a salad they don’t see as filling, especially if they can prepare it themselves. Not skimping on the protein could help satiate consumers’ desire for a healthy, yet substantial meal.
3. Don't be tied to a daypart
Consumers are willing to slurp down soup outside of lunch and dinner. The menu item is gaining popularity as a snack and breakfast item. Consumers are 6% more likely to order snack as a menu item than in 2015, and 12% more likely to order soup for breakfast, according to the report. Consumers are also craving salad in the morning more than they were a few years ago. Consider brunch-friendly soup and salads with nontraditional vegetables, playing with sweet and savory flavors.