Fresh Insights: New Perspectives for Food Service

The United Fresh Produce Association’s Fresh Insights report offers valuable information about trends in restaurants, retail, home delivery, and more. It also previews what will be popular in the fall.

After reviewing the Fresh Insights study, I found that they show what’s new with artichokes and sweet strawberries and how they can be incorporated into a wide range of creative menu applications. They also highlight yogurt and ice cream-based parfaits and how these treats can be enjoyed with a variety of fresh fruit.

Thinking ahead, the “On the Horizon” section of the Fresh Insights report covers trends and data that will affect food service this fall, highlighting traditionally the underutilized turnips and figs, as well as the ever-popular pasta and recent social media sensation, baked feta pasta with fresh tomatoes.

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And as always, the “Chain Report” explores the latest national account introductions, while the “Kids Table” section draws attention to carrots and how globally inspired ingredients are featured on menus for the little ones.

Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC) tracks trends through an established life cycle. In the Fresh Insights report, you’ll find everything from innovative product options just launching on restaurant menus to well-established fruits and vegetables that are common to all operators.

The MAC presents:

  1. Inception: Early-stage trends exemplify originality in taste, preparation, and presentation. Examples: Romanesco, yuzu, rilletes, venison.
  2. Adoption: Trends in the adoption stage are still unique and differentiated, often characterized by premium ingredients, interesting preparation, and creative plating. Examples: acai, duck, charcuterie, lobster rolls.
  3. Proliferation: Proliferation stage trends are adjusted to appeal to a demographic, often combining them with popular applications (in a burger, pasta, etc.). Examples:  Kale, grits, smoked cheeses.
  4. Ubiquity: Ubiquity trends are suitable for line extensions and to add a creative punch to old favorites. Examples:  Apples, chipotle, artichoke dip.

With spring just over, backyard eating resumed, and consumers are turning to refreshing concepts. What’s the current trend? The Fresh Insights report explains what artichoke is and how its consumption has risen:

West28%-9% growth
South27%-8% growth
Midwest29%-6% growth
Northeast28%-10% growth
PENETRATION: % of restaurants serving GROWTH: change in penetration from ’16 to ’20

The study also tells us about strawberries, their origins, and how restaurants use them. Did you know that 75% of strawberries are grown in California?

West59%+7 growth
South59%+5 growth
Midwest60%+4 growth
Northeast56%+9 growth
PENETRATION: % of restaurants serving GROWTH: change in penetration from ’16 to ’20

Coming up in the fall are turnips (on fries) and fresh, bold figs (on pizza or charcuterie).

We conclude that fruits, vegetables, herbs, tubers, and others are always added to some restaurant menus or at home, depending on the season, but some are more popular than others. How do you use them? Share your recipes on Instagram – Abasto Magazine.

To learn more about these products and how restaurants incorporate them in their menus, view the full Fresh Insights report in the resources section of