In the past, spicy foods were seen as niche products appealing to select diners. However, in the last few years spicy flavors have emerged as fan favorites across the market. Datassential reports that nearly 80% of Americans say they like spicy foods, while 71% of restaurants have at least one menu item called out as “spicy.” Younger consumers, who favor spicy dishes and larger discretionary income, are changing the national palate and driving the recent surge.
“Gen Z and millennials are more likely to prefer spicier foods while others prefer mild or moderately-spicy foods,” says Dan Plunkett, Vice-President of Foodservice Sales for Garner Foods—the makers of Texas Pete® products. “Gen Zs are interested in spicy flavor found in international sauces, such as gochujang, and buffalo sauce, while Millennials love sriracha, buffalo sauce, and aiolis. It is also noteworthy that males overall have a greater affinity toward spicy flavors than females. Males are more likely to love hot sauce, hot mustard, and barbecue ranch dressing.”
Spicy signature sauces can serve as a powerful differentiator of restaurants in a crowded market, as well as a tool for operational efficiency. Delicious signature sauces can help restaurants improve repeat business, while also giving consumers a chance to customize dishes to suit their own flavor and heat preferences.
Even more importantly for restaurant leaders, signature hot sauces can help restaurants increase sales at a time when profit margins are typically thin. By adding perceived value to menu items, restaurants can upcharge for signature sauces that they might otherwise typically give away. A sauce can help give a burger, for example, a premium flare for which customers will be willing to pay an increased price. When added to the menu as an upcharge, a signature sauce becomes a lucrative asset for operators to upscale a menu item, offer a unique salad dressing, and serve as a sharable dip for appetizers.
“Let’s say you operate a 20-unit chain, and you add just two signature sauces,” Plunkett says. “You sell 100 servings of each sauce a day in every one of your 20 restaurants at a price of 50 cents each. That can generate $720,000 new revenue a year, not counting the cost of the ingredients and labor. Offer three signature sauces using the same criteria and that number goes to more than $1 million a year in added income.”
Garner Foods has developed a special website to calculate how much revenue adding a signature sauce or sauces to your menu can generate. The site also shares a variety of signature sauce recipes. You can visit the site at TexasPeteFoodservice.com/calculator.
Requiring minimal labor and a few common ingredients that many restaurants already have on hand, signature sauces are easy to create. Datassential says that Sriracha aioli has grown as a signature sauce by 250% in just four years. Plunkett says the recipe can be as simple as whisking together mayo, honey, and CHA! by Texas Pete® Sriracha Sauce. Spicy ranch is even more simple, with a combination of Texas Pete® Original Hot Sauce and ranch dressing. Either can be a memorable signature sauce that can be applied to a grilled or fried chicken sandwich, a burger, a protein salad, a salmon entrée, or as a dipping sauce for appetizers or a bar menu. Texas Pete® has developed more than a dozen trending signature sauces for foodservice operators that can improve margin for menu items and be packaged in plastic ramekins for take-out or delivery.
“Hot sauce is one of the most versatile ingredients in an operator’s kitchen, and it’s one of the best-loved flavors,” Plunkett says. “The opportunity to leverage brand loyalty in customers by using signature sauces is very powerful, so we’re sharing it nationwide. Charging extra for condiments that you typically giveaway is a game-changer, and the variety of spicy flavors Texas Pete® can provide can be a major business-building strategy for operators.”