Taste and Texture Key for Foodservice Coatings

assortment of breaded foods

New consumer research in our pan-European report explores what makes coated foodservice products memorable and how offerings might evolve in the future

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KerryDigest Fast Facts:

  • Coated products remain a popular lunch and dinner option, with many consumers ordering such items at quick service restaurants (QSRs) or for delivery.
  • Our research reveals that taste and texture are the top influences when choosing coated products, with consumers interested in trying new flavours and even crunchier, crispier coatings. 
  • They’re also ready to try healthier coated products, including plant-based offerings.

KerryDigest Full Scoop:

While our research shows that the family favourite chicken nuggets are the most popular coated product in the out-of-home marketplace, coated offerings are continuing to evolve, and fresh ideas are needed to keep consumers coming back. Our latest report ‘Coated – The Coatings Consumer Uncovered’ draws insights from 2,000 out-of-home consumers across six European markets including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Poland, Spain and Russia. In addition, we spoke to industry leaders and experts on coated product challenges and opportunities to deliver key market insights and trends. Here we cover six of the most timely and important opportunities in the coatings market.

Delivery is here to stay: Out-of-home dining is beginning to re-open across Europe, with consumers returning to restaurants and cafes. However, we predict the shift toward increased usage of delivery and takeaway services is here to stay. Our research found that 31% of coated product consumers use takeaway delivery services more now than last year, making it crucial that coated products are developed with the delivery journey in mind. To ensure coated products stay crisp, warm and crunchy during delivery, brands are turning toward new innovations such as menu reformulations that reduce overall moisture, according to Adrian Coulter, Culinary Director for Kerry Foodservice.

Opportunity in family snack occasions: Across markets, QSRs are the most prevalent outlet of choice for consuming coated products, making up 43% of all occasions. Our research found coatings are liked equally by audiences of all ages. Nonetheless, family meals play an important part in coating consumption, with 49% of all out-of-home coated product occasions including children.

One in every eight snacking occasions included coated snacks or appetisers such as chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks and calamari, suggesting there’s more room for growth. chicken with bread coating

And, while two-thirds of out-of-home coated product occasions happen at lunch or dinner time, there is an opportunity to expand the footprint of coatings beyond main meals. Snacking in general is up, and one in every eight snacking occasions included coated snacks or appetisers such as chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks and calamari, suggesting there’s more room for growth.

Chicken rules the roost: The most prevalent coated product choice across Europe is chicken, with around 60% of coated product consumers regularly choosing breaded chicken when dining or ordering out. Chicken nuggets are the leading format for coated chicken when all markets surveyed are combined, followed by chicken burgers and chicken tenders. However, there are some interesting local differences.

  • Popcorn chicken is prevalent in the UK, with 42% of people surveyed there preferring this coated product.
  • Chicken escalopes feature more strongly in France and Germany, with 50% of consumers in both countries preferring this dish.
  • Chicken burgers captured 50% of preference for the UK, France and Spain.

Following chicken, fish is the next most important protein overall for consumers of coated products. Whole fish fillets perform well in all markets with calamari and fish fingers taking second and third place.

International inspired flavours: Familiar taste favourites gravitate to the fore for consumers, with top coated product flavours including garlic and herb, BBQ, hot and spicy and southern fried. Still, consumers are open to new taste experiences. Interesting opportunities are emerging for coated flavours with lemon and pepper and Mexican- and Indian-inspired tastes also making the cut in our research. This broad range of taste preferences shows potential to grow in these areas and demonstrates the continued interest from consumers in experimenting with new places and cuisines through their taste buds.

One reason for the enduring appeal of coated products is the way consumers view them as a “treat”, with taste, texture and crunchiness all contributing to the sense of indulgence.breaded chicken

Increasing the indulgence: One reason for the enduring appeal of coated products is the way consumers view them as a “treat”, with taste, texture and crunchiness all contributing to the sense of indulgence. Texture was cited as an area with room for improvement by 45% of consumers surveyed, who said that crunchier and crispier coatings would enhance out-of-home occasions. Some consumers would also like to see reduced fat content amongst coated products as well as a greater variety of sauces and dips to enhance the experience.

Moving toward health and sustainability: When we look to the future for coated products, there’s a growing appetite for healthier and tastier options. Our research found that 83% of out-of-home consumers claim they always try to make healthy eating choices. Among those who have reduced coated product consumption in the past year, health has been the key driver in this choice, suggesting the need to continue exploring healthier coated products.

There is also a rise in demand for plant-based coatings, with 40% eating plant-based meat alternatives monthly or more often and around 20% eating plant-based products more often out-of-home than a year ago. This shows that there is an opportunity for foodservice outlets to tap into plant-based coatings and sustainable ingredients to grow share in this market.

The coated product consumer is changing and evolving. To stay ahead of emerging consumer needs and future trends explore our market research. To learn how we can help you to develop the best crunchy and tasty coatings, contact us.

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