Culinary Trends - Looking beyond sugar presented by Conagra foodservece - December 2016


'Tis the season for nostalgic, comforting flavors, and nothing evokes sweet memories quite like maple. As a featured player on the breakfast menu, maple syrup is most commonly paired with waffles, pancakes and French toast. But its versatility extends to beverages, desserts, proteins and more! The flavor of maple syrup is intriguingly complex, with roasted, woody, milky and vanilla notes that enhance a dish without creating an overpowering sense of sweetness.

Chef Tips

We tend to think about maple as a "morning flavor," but it actually complements a variety of sweet and savory dishes that span dayparts. Nothing beats the taste sensation when maple syrup meets ham, seafood or barbecued meats — in the form of maple glaze, rub or even compound butter. Here are some more ways to incorporate maple across the menu:

  • Sauces, salts and marinades to pair with proteins
  • Rich mix-in for soups and stews
  • Seasonal beverage enhancer
  • On-trend breakfast bowls, oatmeal and porridge
  • Flavor icing or cream cheese for desserts and baked goods
As consumers seek out alternative sweeteners, honey, molasses, maple and other natural syrups and extracts will play an increasingly important role in flavor development.
By the number

Maple is a trend that's here to stay. In addition to having a flavor profile consumers love, maple's adaptability makes it a valuable back-of-house ingredient for operators.

* "FLAVE: Survey Says," Conagra Proprietary Custom Research, January 2016.

Sweet potato soup with maple walnut topping

Perfect for winter menus! This hearty sweet potato soup features a classic Chinese five-spice blend with the unique accent of J. Hungerford Smith® Maple Walnut Topping.

Maple pancake breakfast sandwich

Serve up a spin on the classic breakfast sandwich, with scrambled eggs, sausage and cheese layered between two Krusteaz® Maple Flavored Pancakes.


Quick Dish

Consumer demand for "natural" sweeteners (perceived to be healthier than sugar) has impacted both foodservice and retail markets. In addition to maple, on-trend sweeteners such as coconut sugar, agave, honey and monk fruit extract have been spotted in breakfast, beverage and dessert menu applications.

of consumers ages 18-38 are willing to pay a premium for natural sweeteners1
increase in agave menu mentions since 20122
growth of honey on menus since 2005, currently found on 56% of U.S. menus3
Segment focus: convenience

Busy consumers have turned to convenience stores to address a growing need for prepared meals on-the-go. And they expect to see higher-quality menu items that solidify the position of c-stores as meal destinations. Unique offerings featuring maple flavors have been spotted on c-store menus recently:

  • WAWA® offers a line of Sizzli® branded breakfast sandwiches, including Sausage, Egg & Cheese on French Toast.
  • THORNTONS® has re-released its popular Maple Bacon Donut, dipped in maple icing and sprinkled with bacon bits.


Conagra Foodservice is home to the brands that bring patron-pleasing flavor to your menu. Items such as J. Hungerford Smith Pancake and Waffle Syrup and Krusteaz Whole Grain Maple Waffle Sticks showcase the delicious taste of maple syrup and can be served across dayparts — including all-day breakfast, snack and dessert — for maximum versatility and profit potential.

1 Melissa Kvidahl, "Natural Sweeteners Spell Success," Nutraceuticals World, September 8, 2016.
2 Datassential MenuTrends, menu penetration growth 2012-2016.
2 Datassential MenuTrends, menu penetration growth 2005-2016.