Desserts are now an anytime thing

October 06 2017

There are certain things in life that adopt an obvious and natural order.

You mop after you’ve vacuumed. You wash up after you’ve eaten. You eat dessert after the main course.

However, that last concept is gradually becoming disregarded, according to new research.

A report from food research group Technomic has found that diners are slowly drifting away from the traditional idea of dessert being a post-meal thing. Instead, they’re increasingly viewed as an anytime event.

The study, which quizzed more than 1,500 consumers, found that planned dessert occasions are also on the rise, and 18- to 34-year-olds are increasingly likely to visit specific restaurants for a meal because a certain dessert is on their menu.

Close to half of the survey sample (46 percent) said their dessert occasions were planned, rather than impulse, while a similar proportion (48 percent) said they would be willing to pay more for desserts that were made from scratch.

Additionally, almost a third of consumers (32 percent) eat dessert after a meal at least twice a week.

Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights at Technomic, said: “Portable desserts like milkshakes, smoothies and fruit are increasingly popular for anytime occasions like snacking and replacing meals.

“Greater opportunity exists to drive off-peak traffic by positioning desserts as craveable, stand-alone occasions throughout the day or by emphasizing the snackable nature of top desserts like fruit, cookies, brownies and ice cream.”

New ideas

So are there any new desserts restaurateurs offer to capitalize on this newfound interest in desserts? Of course!

An article published by Forbes identified outrageous ice cream desserts that integrate a ‘bigger is better’ and ‘in your face’ approach as one of the most important emerging dessert trends; if it looks like it could deliver your weekly calorie allowance in one serving, you’re on the right track.

In contrast, healthier sweets that are less artificial and more nutritious than your regular after-dinner dishes are also deemed to be a major pull.

Other big emerging dessert trends include those that incorporate savory elements, ‘artisan grains’ (example: salted chocolate shortbread with thyme) and citrus and tropical flavors. Rose-infused treats, mirror glaze and mini desserts are on the radar too.