CHICAGO — Smoothie sales continue to hit new heights, while salad sales stay healthy with an injection of creativity, Mintel researchers here have found.
Smoothie sales are expected to increase 68% from 2007 to 2012, and salads remain a standard on restaurant menus as some morph into interesting combos.
Granted, it was from a small base, but from 2002 to 2007, smoothie sales in the United States rose an impressive 139%.
That's good news for retailers looking to invest in a smoothie bar, but it also bodes well for any department that has added a refrigerated case to house packaged smoothies.
“Made-to-order sales increases are attributable to improved awareness and greater access, whereas ready-to-drink has benefited from new products and entrants,” Mintel's researchers report.
Three in 10 consumers in Mintel's survey who drink smoothies do so because “other than taste, they are good for me.”
Researchers pointed out that it's incumbent upon marketers to make consumers aware of the healthful options smoothies offer.
A large percentage of respondents who were smoothie drinkers mentioned healthfulness and energy. Indeed, 27% of smoothie drinkers said they drink smoothies because “they are good for me,” and 13% cited both convenience and “energy” as reasons.
Also significant is the fact that those who haven't drunk a smoothie recently said they hadn't because “I didn't think of it,” or “there's not a store nearby that sells them.”
Demographics play a role, as researchers found that 18-to-24-year-olds are more apt than others to have had a smoothie in the last month (54% vs. an average overall of 31%). And Hispanics participating in the survey were nearly twice as likely as whites to have drunk a smoothie in the last month (47% vs. 26% of whites), researchers said.
Hispanic influence was also evident in the types of salads that have shown growth on restaurant menus.
In its ongoing Menu Insights research, Mintel found that Mexican-type salads were the only variety to show growth (10%). Others, such as Greek, traditional American and Italian, decreased slightly.
Menu Insights researchers also saw a 7% drop in entree salads on restaurant menus, but a 7% increase in side salads.
Researchers concluded that the future of salads on restaurant menus is stable, but the face of the category is changing. For instance, such items as tricolor beet salad and salad with sirloin are making an appearance. Wedge salad has made a comeback, and more varieties of lettuce, including radicchio and arugula, are commonly used.
Menu Insights researchers also saw more fruits, nuts, oils and premium proteins being used, as well as natural, organic and local ingredients.