Throughout the past year, numerous restaurant brands have pushed limited-time offerings featuring barbecue flavors and preparation methods. The trend has particularly picked up in the summer months, according to Technomic's Category Close-Up: Barbecue report.
"Barbecue is increasingly prevalent on menus," said Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice president. "More than half of all operators we track (57 percent) menu at least one dish with barbecue sauce. Whether it's introduced in the preparation or as a flavor, barbecue is very versatile and, more importantly, very different depending on regionality."
In the new Category Close-Up: Barbecue report, Technomic uses its MenuMonitor online menu-tracking resource and finds that more than 63 percent of the Top 500 restaurant chains offer barbecue as a flavor, ingredient or preparation style.
Of particular note is the diverse array of methods used by operators to incorporate barbecue onto menus, and the opportunity that still remains for the category to grow:
- Overall menu incidence of barbecue sauce is up more than 5 percent in the past year.
- A large majority of all barbecue sauce mentions don't have a flavor associated with the sauce, indicating large opportunities for operators to offer more innovative barbecue sauce flavors.
- Among sauces with a flavor associated with them, sweet/honey-style barbecue sauces are declining, while spicy/pepper varieties are gaining.
- Smoked is the most commonly used barbecue preparation, and pork is the most commonly barbecued protein.
- At barbecue concepts, coleslaw is the most common side dish, followed by french fries and baked beans.
In the QSR segment, Burger King recently introduced a BBQ-themed summer menu, including the Memphis Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich, Carolina BBQ Sandwiches and Texas BBQ Sandwiches.
The Dairy Queen system rolled out a new Sweet Apple BBQ GrillBurger. Subway recently introduced a new smokehouse BBQ chicken sub, as part of the chain's Fresh Fit menu with less than 400 calories.
Additionally, White Castle is featuring its BBQ Sliders from now through Sept. 4. The line includes the BBQ Pulled Pork Slider, along with the new BBQ Bacon Chicken with Bacon Slider and Original BBQ Slider. White Castle is partnering with Kraft's Bulls-Eye Original BBQ Sauce for the new offerings.
Read more about trends and statistics.