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Log In / Register | May 25, 2018

As Dessert Definition Expands, So Does Consumption

CHICAGO—What actually is dessert? Is it the sweet ending to a dinner meal, or something bigger?

Compared to two years ago, more of today's consumers are saying that they're eating dessert items during both midmorning and midafternoon hours as both snacks and after meals, according to foodservice researcher Technomic.

All of this activity means that dessert consumption is on the rise, according to a report by Technomic. Two-fifths of consumers (40 percent) report that they're eating desserts after a meal at least twice a week. That is up from 36 percent in 2010.

"Consumers aren't holding off on dessert until after dinner; instead, they're reaching for easily accessible, handheld and portable treats at just about any time of day," says Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic, Inc. "Desserts are also functioning as snacks and even meal replacements. Operators will need to look at flavors, portion sizes and evolving needs to satisfy a broad range of consumers' dessert expectations and preferences."

To help foodservice executives understand the latest behaviors, preferences and attitudes of consumers regarding desserts, Technomic has published its 2013 Dessert Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:

  • Emotions can drive dessert purchases: most consumers say they are more likely to eat dessert when they want to treat or reward themselves (78 percent) or are feeling happy (60 percent), suggesting the strong effect of mood on dessert consumption.
  • Dessert occasions are also influenced by the dining party: 44 percent of full-service desserts and 29 percent of limited-service desserts are shared.
  • Consumers want healthier desserts and smaller portions: consumer responses reveal demands for healthier desserts—especially low-calorie and sugar-free options—and 36 percent of consumers agree that they are more likely to order dessert if a mini portion is available.
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