Free Report: Top Ingredient Trends 2015

While there are many moving parts to upholding a successful restaurant business or food brand, many would argue that ingredients are the spine of an operation’s success. You can have the most friendly business in town, but if your food is mediocre, it’s only a matter of time before customers seek out more high-quality options. This is especially true with the increasingly educated landscape of culinary consumers.

Aside from freshness and quality of ingredients, it’s also important for chefs, operators, suppliers and analysts to keep an ear to the ground for long-lasting food trends: Which ingredients are consumers (especially Millennials) talking about — and eating up? How can chefs infuse these ingredients into their own menu without losing their culinary voice or artistic point of view?

In this Foodable Labs report, we place a heavy focus on avocados, one of the most loved and talked about ingredients over the past year or so. If you’re in the industry, you already know that avocados aren’t a fleeting wave; they have been trending for quite some time. 

About the Data

All original data for this report is property of Foodable Labs, in partnership with sister company DigitalCoCo's proprietary Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), the most comprehensive index for the restaurant & foodservice industry. Original data points in this report reflect information captured from December 2014 thru May 2015. Foodable Labs pulls organic, unstructured data across 17 social media platforms, keeping a focus on 127,807,627 U.S. foodservice consumers who interact with a restaurant or food brand at least twice per month. This consistency of consumer to brand engagement allows us to garner more educated insights on those that are helping to move the industry forward. In addition to tracking these consumers, Foodable Labs tracks 15,256 brands in more than 430K locations, and more than 188,699 total restaurant industry terms. These numbers continue to grow.

Geographical Influence

Avocados are typically associated with Spanish and Mexican cultures and cuisines. And for good reason: Mexico is the largest producer of the fruit on a global scale. The ingredient is also a requirement in many Mexican and Mexican-influenced dishes -- from tacos and burrito bowls to salads and sandwiches.

While avocado production in Mexico trumps all others, California -- Southern California, to be more specific -- takes majority when it comes to strictly U.S. production. Thanks to its geographical closeness to Mexico, avocados have been invading menus in Southern California heavily for quite some time. This Mexican influence has helped mold SoCal culinary culture, where Taco Tuesdays and breakfast burritos reign supreme.

However, thanks to looser import restrictions on Mexico's part, which were lifted in the late '90s, Mexico's avocado shipments now have the ability to be more widespread. As The Washington Post reported earlier this year, Mexico didn't actually have full access to the U.S. market until 2007. And now, its influence has become mainstream.

In 2013, Americans were expected to consume nearly 80 million pounds of avocados around the time of the Super Bowl. And according to Mintel, there have been more than 100 new guacamole-flavored products rolled out in the U.S. within the past five years. Guacamole chips are a thing.

What factors have caused avocados to rise in popularity across the globe?