Autumn Appetites: Consumers Fall for a Shift in Seasonal Flavors

Posted in Trends on October 4, 2022

423275_1387Pumpkin spice, anyone? Yep, it’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down, the temperature is dropping, and a cornucopia of fall flavors are cropping up on menus and store shelves everywhere.

Now if only stress levels were falling with the leaves and the heat from business climate would cool down. There’s an urgency in the air as the season shifts to fall, when foodservice operators, chefs and retailers look to the market’s anticipation of fall flavors for a feast of seasonal sales.

According to the market research firm Datassential, 54% of operators consider limited-time offers (LTOs) as a central part of their business,1 and with heightened pressure to capitalize on the seasonal, it stands to reason that there will be an especially robust fall flavor fest of seasonal LTOs this year. 

In response to economic challenges like labor shortages and supply chain breaks, 26% of operations across foodservice segments have introduced more LTOs to drive traffic.2 Seasonality presents a powerful opportunity to jump-start sales with LTO concepts. And in an environment where 77% of operators surveyed have raised menu prices2 and put the market’s price sensitivity to the test, seasonal LTOs and specialty items give consumers a reason to spend more. 

Beyond the Pumpkin Patch: Carving Out New LTOs for the Season

“We’ve said often over the past two-plus years how important innovation is in getting consumers excited about eating out and trying new things again,” reported Datassential, which calls innovation “more important than ever” at a time when the economy is contracting.1

No wonder Datassential research shows that operators have been busy cooking up more LTO concepts this year than in 2021.1 Fall flavors are renowned sources of culinary comfort and nostalgia that usher in the holiday season while harkening back to childhood memories. But seasonal staples often share the stage with trending twists on old favorites or fresh takes on familiar flavor profiles. 

As the U.K.-based trend forecasting company WGSN reported in its Autumn Flavours Forecast: “For autumn 2022, expect brands to look beyond pumpkin to items flavoured with apple, salted maple, pecan pie, cinnamon bun, pear and pretzel, in expressions ranging from umami richness to savoury spice.”3

Major chains served up 174 pumpkin LTOs last fall, and while a rich harvest of them are already piling up on menus and store shelves, sweet-spicy and tart-spicy flavor profiles are trending and giving the market a fresh taste of variety (Datassential cites spicy margaritas and mango habanero as examples).1

Meanwhile, blood orange is tantalizing taste buds this fall. In keeping with the 38% percent of consumers who  love or like the flavor,1 Dunkin’ has released a Blood Orange Refresher, while Dave & Busters is boosting its beverage menu with a Blood Orange Paloma. And here’s a scoop for the 45% of consumers who love or like ginger1: The Braum’s chain of ice cream parlors is offering gingerbread ice cream. 

At Mondelēz International, our acclaimed chefs leverage our beloved brand ingredients to create fresh takes on seasonal favorites like Pumpkin Tres Leches Cake made with NILLA Cookie Pieces. Browse our Culinary Center for a feast of ideas and inspiration. To learn how we can create custom LTOs and signature specialty concepts for your operation, contact us below. 



1 Datassential, Food Industry Trend Report 2022 Pumpkin Spice Season

2 Datassential, One Table: State of the Operator and the Road Ahead, 2022 Edition

3 Lancaster, Claire, Autumn Flavours Forecast 2022, October 18, 2021

Topics in this article

Related Articles

All About Newstalgia in Desserts

Tweaking familiar dishes to include a new flavor or format could be the menu addition that will pique consumer interest and help increase sales.

Asian Flavors & Formats Feed Dessert Inspiration

Flavors found in a number of dishes traditionally served in Southeast Asia are helping to inspire creative dessert menu options with widespread appeal.

Sweet Spots: Dessert Diversification Bites and Insights

Indulgent desserts are trending as key to a balanced approach to wellbeing. Explore the diversity of desserts hitting the sweet spot in foodservice today.

Grab-and-Go Breakfast Inspiration

Grab-and-go breakfast items can satisfy customer cravings for convenience—but to make sales soar, operators need to include the right elements.

Global Street Foods Offer Portable Culinary Experiences

Global trends around street foods are having an increasing impact on restaurant menus in 2023 and beyond. Learn more about these trends.

Transforming Nostalgic Desserts into New Formats

Basing desserts on a classic dish or nostalgic flavor is a growing trend — which operators can utilize to boost consumer interest and orders.

Social Media Feeds Menu Inspiration, Promotion

Get tips for improving your social media presence and leveraging social media as a tool for your restaurant and convenience store.

How to Use Sweet Treats to Help Drive Profits

An enticing dessert menu can translate into higher sales — if restaurants are able to offer sweet treats that deliver what consumers want.

Perking Up Profits: What’s Brewing in the Coffee Shop Segment

Coffee shops continue to generate buzz and big sales. Explore data-informed insights into the strategies driving the success of Starbucks and Dutch Bros.

Winter Seasonal Desserts: Tips and Trends

Use these winter dessert trends and tips to boost profits throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Join the Let’s Chat Snacks Community

Be the first to know when we drop new articles, trends and insights, with updates delivered directly to your inbox. Plus, you’ll get an insider perspective on all things foodservice, carefully curated to help you grow your business.