The Chilean Citrus Committee, the promotional arm for Chilean citrus in North America, conducted a multilevel foodservice research project to better understand foodservice operators’ attitudes surrounding lemons from Chile, identify purchase drivers for fresh lemons in the U.S., and gain insights around menu opportunities for fresh lemons. The Chilean Citrus Committee partnered with food industry market research firm Datassential to mine their extensive MenuTrends database, comprised of 4,800 restaurants, and also included Chilean lemons in an eight-question omnibus survey of 400+ foodservice operators nationwide.
Lemons from Chile are available between May and October, with more than 56,000 tons exported to North America in 2018. It’s clear why North America is one of Chile’s main export markets for lemons, as 75 percent of consumers report liking or loving the flavor of this citrus fruit, according to the report. That enjoyment of lemons plays a role in the fruit’s growth on restaurant menus, increasing 9 percent over the past four years to reach nearly 70 percent penetration in restaurants, a number that refers to the percentage of restaurants that use lemons in their dishes.
Some highlights from the Omnibus and MenuTrends reports include:
● Top chain operators most often use lemons on spring and summer menus, introducing them most frequently in June—in the heart of Chilean lemon season.
● Many operators aren’t aware that lemons are available from Chile, but when asked about their perception of fruit from Chile, communicated trust in the quality and integrity of the fruit.
● More than 96 percent of fine dining restaurants use lemons on their menus, but QSR and fast casual restaurants have witnessed the highest increase in lemon usage, at 34 percent and 20 percent respectively.
● Use of lemons is projected to grow by 5.5 percent over the next four years.