Healthy Dining Summer

The Memorial Day weekend ushers in the unofficial start of summer, and while summer won’t officially begin until June 20, that hasn’t stopped restaurant operators from taking advantage of the seasonal ingredients and menu items associated with and appropriate for summer.

Salads are a natural summer-time menu item. They are light, refreshing and have appeal for consumers looking to shed a few pounds during swimsuit season. However, operators just aren’t throwing salads on the menu and calling it a day. Instead, they are incorporating seasonal ingredients. Last year, Panera Bread launched a Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad in time for summer, while this year it’s Wendy’s turn with its Berry Almond Chicken Salad, which features summer ingredients like blueberries and strawberries.

And because summer’s heat and humidity requires a high level of hydration, operators are also adding to their beverage menus. McDonald’s has already started promoting its Frozen Strawberry Lemonade, while Burger King’s frozen beverages are priced at $1. Not to be outdone, Starbucks closed out May with a build-your-own frappuccino promotion. Wendy’s emphasis on berries isn’t limited to salads, but also extends to the beverage selection, with a Wild Berry Tea, described as being “infused with a natural puree of real summer berries.”

While salads and cold beverages are on menus during the rest of the year, operators understand that with the changing of the seasons there is an opportunity to change the marketing and menu emphasis. And more than just marketing promotions, the change of seasons should also be viewed as an opportunity for foodservice operators–and food suppliers–to take advantage of flavors native to those seasons.