Quick-service restaurants have been aggressively improving and promoting their salad offerings—-and their efforts appear to be paying off, according to new consumer research from Technomic. In its Salad Category Report, the food-consultancy noted that consumers were more likely to consider quick-service ahead of quick-casual restaurants as a viable source for salad, especially at lunch, although full-service casual-dining operators still dominate all other categories as a top-of-mind resource for salad.

“At lunch, consumers are frequently focused on convenience, but still want high quality at a lower price,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic Information Services. “The quick-service players have been highly successful in delivering on that formula.” Tristano explains that quick-casual operators may need to put new efforts into promoting their artisan items and creating new signature salad dishes, while also presenting attractive price points, in order to compete more effectively with QSRs.

The report also noted that ethnic trends are among the most striking in the salad category. For example, Southwest, Asian and Mediterranean-influenced flavors have been displacing previously-popular flavors like Cajun and Buffalo seasonings. Blue and other strong cheeses are becoming increasingly popular at all types of restaurants and across all price points.

The new Salad Category Report was developed to give restaurant operators and foodservice suppliers vital market information and consumer insights to help drive business-building efforts in the salad category. It includes over 400 pages of detailed reporting on menu, pricing, and unique preparations at more than 250 leading and emerging full- and limited-service chains; in-depth consumer research on purchasing behavior, attitudes and preferences; and extensive individual restaurant profiles and menu contents.

The salad report is just one component in Technomic’s “left-side-of-the-menu” series—-other comprehensive category reports address soups and appetizers. To learn more, please visit www.foodpubs.com.