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From the Summer 2016 Newsletter

Desserts Provide Sweet Profit

California Dairy a Main Ingredient in Most Desserts

Restaurant operators shift gears in summer, cooling off menus with lighter fare and refreshing drinks. One segment, often overlooked, especially because it appears on the menu’s back page, is dessert.

Although consumer eating habits are in flux, – gluten-free, hot and spicy, fresh and local – Americans continue to crave dessert. A recent Technomic study revealed that 63 percent of consumers indulge in dessert at least once a week. These incremental dessert sales lead to higher check averages and most likely, increased customer satisfaction.

The California dairy industry plays an integral role in the dessert category, as milk from our dairy farmers is the main ingredient in almost every popular sweet, end-of-meal treat. In addition to gelato, ice cream and frozen yogurt, California butter is a mainstay in cookies, brownies, cakes, etc., cream cheese is the foundation of cheesecake, and don’t forget milkshakes and root beer floats!

What’s important is restaurant operators need to showcase dessert options and push customers “to save room” for a sweet dénouement. Here are a few opportunities for foodservice operators to consider:

  • In the summer, frozen desserts are enticing. Many California dairy processors offer seasonally flavored ice creams, frozen yogurts and gelatos in interesting fruit flavors. 
  • Restaurants should strike a balance between traditional and more innovative offerings. “Refreshing the dessert menu can land a restaurant in that sweet spot of appealing to consumers who love to order their favorites, as well as a new set of diners excited about new flavors,” says Kelly Weikel, Technomic Director of Consumer Insights. 
  • While “super-sizing” has a certain following, a recent Technomic report shows that downsizing may be the way to go with desserts: Approximately 34 percent of consumers say they are more likely to order dessert if a smaller-portion option is available. Miniature desserts or dessert “flights” not only appeal to children and calorie-conscious consumers, but also could lead to off-hours business as consumers drop by for a quick pick-me-up order with coffee.

Another point to consider is the importance of training servers on how to “sell” desserts. It is proven that if wait staff can convince one diner to try dessert (or even a coffee), others will join in with an order. Most people just need a little justification to jump on the sweet bandwagon and not feel like they are eating alone. One approach used successfully at restaurants is to create a sales contest or incentive for wait staff on dessert orders.

In the hunt for new dessert opportunities, foodservice operators can turn to www.RealCaliforniaMilk.com/foodservice to discover recipes and ideas for creative alternatives as well as tried-and-true traditional favorites. Showcasing desserts is a great way to turn your customer’s sweet tooth into a sweet profit.