Iced tea has been a staple on quick-serve menus for more than 10 years and has been served at more than 47 percent of quick serves menuing non-alcoholic beverages since 2005, according to Datassential research. Despite having been included on beverage menus for so long, there are no signs that iced tea will disappear from restaurant menus any time soon, as the long-term trend also shows 3 percent growth.
One chain seeing particular success from its iced tea programs is Bojangles’. Brian Little, director of corporate communications, notes that more than 3 million 32-ounce cups of Legendary Iced Tea were sold in company-operated stores alone this past summer, and it is being served across all dayparts.
As a response to this growth, many operators looking to capitalize on the trend are also adding new flavorful varieties to the menu. Fruit flavors leading the pack, and tropical flavors are seeing the most growth, such as kiwi, orange, mango, and passion fruit.
Overall, mint, honey, and kiwi have each seen more than 200 percent growth in menu mentions in quick-service restaurants over the last four years, according to Datassential research. Orange, citrus, mango, and passion fruit varieties have also seen strong growth, with increases ranging from 100 to 175 percent in the last four years.
Though these unique flavors are increasingly popular, traditional fruit flavors, such as apple, strawberry, and peach iced teas, have also been growing in menu mentions between 76 and 90 percent over four years.
As consumer demand for iced tea continues to grow, operators looking to increase beverage profitability may need to consider adding or increasing iced tea offerings.