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Trendinista: Bet big on smoothie bowls

Trendinista: Bet big on smoothie bowls

A new breakfast option could turn up on many restaurant menus in 2016. • See more Food Trends

Both full-service and fast-casual operators will find plenty of idea-starters on commercial blender manufacturer Blendtec’s list of Top 10 smoothie trends for 2016. But smoothie bowls look to be the standout. The best daypart in which to menu these eat-it-with-a-spoon-instead-of-drink-it-with-a-straw items? The data suggests breakfast.

“Smoothie bowls are thicker than traditional smoothies with added ice, frozen fruits and vegetables, protein powders and healthy fats,” says Julie Owens, director of marketing at Blendtec. “These smoothie concoctions are served in a bowl and eaten like soup, allowing for more creative, aesthetically pleasing additives. Typical smoothie bowl toppings include: granola, fresh or dried fruit, shredded coconuts, nuts and seeds.”

She’s not kidding about smoothie bowl aesthetics. Other than the color of their base blend, smoothies served in a cup all look the same. But the much-larger surface area a bowl shape provides lets restaurants arrange toppings to create eye-catching presentations. Do it right and a restaurant’s smoothie bowl can go viral on social media. Many already have on both Pinterest and Instagram.

From the operator’s standpoint, bowls are a good way to do more business at breakfast, the fastest growing daypart in foodservice. Or, as market research giant NPD points out, perhaps the only growing daypart in foodservice.

“There are many pockets of growth in the foodservice industry right now, but the areas that have been problematic for several years now, like quick-service hamburger chain and family dining restaurants, are preventing real growth in the industry,” says NPD’s Bonnie Riggs. “It makes sense that we will be seeing more chain and independent operators leverage the growth areas, like breakfast, in the coming months.”

Here are a few ways operators are already leveraging breakfast-worthy smoothie bowls to capture some of this growth.

At Blenders and Bowls, an Austin cafe and food truck operation, the “Bowl of Paradise” starts with a base blend of dragon fruit, mangos, pineapple, banana and coconut water and is topped with hemp granola, strawberries, goji berries, coconut shreds and local honey.  A 12 oz. bowl goes for $8.25; the 16 oz. version costs $10.25. Customers can choose from a 27-item list of add-ins that range from $.50 (bee pollen) to $1.00 (kale) and more.

Smoothie specialty chain Jamba Juice dubs its smoothie bowls “energy bowls.” One version that works for breakfast is the “Chunky Strawberry Bowl,” whose base consists of Greek yogurt, strawberries, bananas, peanut butter and soymilk. The toppings include organic granola, fresh bananas, and strawberries. Supplement and add-ons are available, too.

Frozen yogurt chain Red Mango offers a couple of “spoonable” combinations to attract more a.m. customers. The “Spoonable Strawberry Banana” tops a strawberry/banana/peanut butter base with granola and more bananas.

Bon Appetit explains how  to develop a signature smoothie bowl that goes beyond the basics.

2016 smoothie trends

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Here’s Blendtec’s full list of smoothie trends for 2016:

1. Build-Your-Own: Smoothie bar concepts that allow customers to customize their drinks for a “Chipotle-style” dining experience are seeing huge success.

2. Health Boosters: Ingredients such as protein, superfoods and heathy fats transform a regular smoothie from a typical “snack” into a functional, tasty supplement.

3. Smoothie Meals On-the-Go: These smoothies often contain superfood ingredients and beneficial additives to keep customers feeling sustained all day long.

4. Smoothie Bowls: Smoothie bowls are thicker than traditional smoothies with added ice, frozen fruits and vegetables, protein powders and healthy fats.

5. Sugar Alternatives: As consumers continue to look for ways to add functional ingredients, sugar alternatives are also becoming increasingly popular.

6. Colorful Veggies: Consumers are looking beyond traditional greens in smoothies, making veggies such as beets, carrots, pumpkin and cabbage poised to take off.

7. Global Inspiration: Global influences that have transformed the food culture are now making their way into beverages with matcha, horchata and lassi leading the way.

8. Spices and Herbs: The use of culinary herbs enhances smoothies with bold flavors, and spices add a warm and spicy kick to cool concoctions.

9. Low-Profile Liquids: Liquids beyond dairy milk and fruit juice are gaining popularity in the smoothie segment.

10. Adult Smoothies: These drinks are smoothies with one extra ingredient—alcohol.

Most restaurants already have a commercial blender in their kitchen and many of the ingredients needed to create a smoothie bowl are already part of their inventory. As a trend that’s easy to test or implement, this one’s heard to beat.

Contact Bob Krummert at [email protected]

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