Move over bacon. According to the American Egg Board (AEB), the egg is the latest star to top menu items ranging from curries to burgers, pizzas, salads and even soups. Foodservice operators in every channel have latched onto the trend, from food trucks to quick-service restaurants and mid-scale dining establishments.
The concept of offering an egg as an optional menu topper emerged as an offshoot of the all-day breakfast trend. While a growing number of chains have embraced all-day breakfast, according to Datassential’s 2016 "Keynote Report" on breakfast, only a quarter of operators offer breakfast options beyond the lunch daypart. Additionally, AEB said using eggs as an add-on allows operators to capitalize on the breakfast trend with an economical protein that helps increase check totals and contributes to positive profit margins.
AEB said the protein power of eggs is one factor feeding this trend. “Consumer interest in foods with higher protein content is helping to drive menu innovation,” the board added.
In fact, Technomic found that 75% of people perceive foods high in protein as being healthier, and 39% are willing to pay extra for them. Eggs not only supercharge the protein quotient of any dish, but they’re an economical protein choice and common to every restaurant inventory, AEB noted.
The Technomic research also showed that fried eggs are the most common style used as an add-on option, having risen 6.8% in incidence over the past 12 months.
Half of consumers surveyed (49%) by Datassential in 2016 said their reason for choosing breakfast foods during other dayparts was to satisfy a craving for a specific food, such as eggs. Operators are capitalizing on that craving by crowning salads, poutines and sandwiches with eggs to increase their orders. AEB pointed out that this expands the use of eggs into daypart-blurring menu items such as appetizers and for lunch, happy hour and dinner.
“We witnessed the progression of using eggs atop dinner items as it moved from fine dining -- the first segment to latch onto this trend -- to mid-scale, fast casual and (quick-service restaurants). Food trucks, of course, can be relied upon for edgy experimentation and bursts of creativity. Now, operators of all types are enjoying the value derived from offering an egg as a menu topper, and consumers are getting what they crave the most: an added protein of a delicious, familiar variety," said John Howeth, AEB senior vice president of foodservice and egg product marketing.
According to AEB, an egg topper provides many advantages: “It reshapes an old favorite, adds natural, unprocessed protein to vegetarian dishes and even supercharges the protein quotient of a meat dish. It’s an economical add-on yet adds silky mouthfeel for an indulgent texture. It’s already in nearly every restaurant’s inventory, so it optimizes ingredients.”
If any further motivation is still required, AEB said operators told Datassential that egg dishes are both their best-selling breakfast items and the most profitable ones.