MENU INNOVATIONS | Staff Reporter, Australia

See How Soul Origin, Zambrero, The Coffee Emporium, And Chatime Are Embracing Exotic and Premium Concepts

How are the brands evolving their menus?

When Soul Origin and its in-house chefs were brainstorming on how to draw in customers and stand out from the crowded QSR scene, they came up with a delicious idea: Why not use more quality nutritious ingredients and serve unique flavor combinations?

Soul Origin and other QSR brands in Australia are stepping up to the challenge of appealing to more adventurous and discerning consumers that want to see exotic and premium options when they step into a store.

In the case of Soul Origin, it started offering a variety of salads like the new Rainbow Range that have distinct visual themes and ingredient combinations: The Moroccan Sunset inspired the vibrant colours and tastes of the North African country, and the Green Machine consisting of green lentils, freekeh and kale topped with edamame, wasabi peas and match dressing.

“Australian consumers have a sophisticated food palette, with a good understanding of ingredients thanks to overwhelming popularity of My Kitchen Rules and MasterChef,” says Chris Mavris, General Manager at Soul Origin, referring to the popular cooking reality television shows.

“This is also reflected with supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths partnering with celebrity chef ambassadors. Food enthusiasts’ expectations of ingredients and exotic flavour combinations are high as a result of the this.”

“Three-dimensional flavour experience”

Over at the Mexican restaurant franchise Zambrero, consumers are treating their taste buds to interesting combinations of superfoods like black rice and amaranth seeds, as well as the truffles with traditional Mexican spices. All while keeping the nutritional value high for the increasingly health-conscious Australian diner.

“Consumers are increasingly looking for more diverse dishes and flavours as well as high quality ingredients that deliver important nutritional benefits,” says Karim Messih, CEO at Zambrero.

Zambrero have expanded their menu to include the Powerbowl and IQ ranges, which Messih says offer even healthier options packed with nutrients and have quickly become two of the fastest growing segments of the business.

The Powerbowl and IQ Burrito both have one to two servings of vegetables as well as the popular low-GI and antioxidant-rich black rice, which is infused with spirulina and amaranth seeds.

But for customers that want a memorable palate punch, Zambrero recently launched a special edition sauce called Truffelo. Messih says this fusion sauce “pays tribute to Australia’s increasing love of Truffles and continuous love affair with Mexican flavours by combining the best of both worlds, earthy truffle tones with spices such as chipotle and cumin.”

“This has been extremely well received by our customers as the sauce provides a three-dimensional flavour experience. We have found that our customers appreciate when we can take them on a new culinary journey and challenge their tastebuds,” she adds.

Fernando Pimentel, Global Marketing Manager at The Coffee Emporium reckons that there has been a shift towards premium, high quality ingredients in recent years. Many Australian QSRs are realising the importance of incorporating premium ingredients into their food menus, as consumers are becoming more health conscious.  

“The Australian palate has evolved over the years along with a desire to eat healthy.” he says, which led the brand to create dishes with “high quality of ingredients, amazing flavour and great presentation. These dishes are part of our breakfast, lunch an dinner menus. Customers visiting any of our Coffee Emporium stores have ample choice of meals, ranging from fresh salads to more traditional offerings like sandwiches."

Thrilling tea

Australians are not just searching their culinary thrills in their food, but also in their beverages like tea.

“This is a trend we have experienced firsthand,” says Carlos Antonius, general manager at Chatime. “When Chatime first opened in Australia it was an immediate hit with Asian students and expats – those already familiar with the concept. However, over the years we’ve seen our Western audience grow.”

“Early on it was from people being introduced to the brand through Asian friends. Increasingly now, however, we’re seeing consumers discover Chatime simply through their desire to try something new, premium and a bit exotic,” he adds.

But sometimes too unique a concept can prove to be too scary for consumers. Antonius says Chatime had to do a menu overhaul and repositioned their product as an iced tea, which helped make it less intimidating for customers to try the brand for the first time.

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