More dessert, please

According to Technomic's 2010 Dessert Consumer Trend Report, more consumers have consistently eaten more dessert during the past three years, reports Food Business News. In fact, only 1 percent of survey respondents said they did not eat dessert, and 70 percent said they eat dessert at least once a week, compared with 57 percent of consumers polled in 2007, who said they ate dessert on a weekly basis.

Baked goods and ice cream are the hottest growth categories for desserts at limited-service restaurants and full-service restaurants. The most prevalent dessert category at the largest limited-service restaurants is baked goods with 605 different items offered at 166 different restaurants in 2008. Today, that number has grown to 731 items at 180 restaurants. Every restaurant sub-segment has increased the number of baked goods on the menu between 2008 and 2010.

Chocolate is the most popular dessert flavor, Oreo is one of the top dessert brands, and the mini-dessert trend continues to grow and is seen as a trend with staying power. Technomic also found fine dining menus feature more adventurous flavor combinations with salty, smoky, savory and herbal flavor combinations attracting consumer interest. Beverages also may satisfy dessert cravings with coffee and specialty coffee options often serving as a dessert for many consumers. Pricing may influence dessert purchases, but cost is less of a factor for dessert than for other meals. However, price is a major consideration for consumers who purchase dessert from a retailer after dining out.

"Dessert is unique because it not only involves sensory appeal but also sparks strong emotional drivers," said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president. "If someone wants to reward themselves after a bad day, they might splurge on a dessert to feel better, but it they want to celebrate after a good day they might do the same thing. Motivations for craving dessert run the gamut."