Marketing | Menu Planning

4 Proven Ways to Add Pricing Power to Menu Items

May 22, 2024

4 Proven Ways to Add Pricing Power to Menu Items

In foodservice, pricing strategies can make or break a restaurant’s bottom line. Understanding consumer preferences and leveraging ingredient trends are key to crafting a menu that delights palates and opens wallets.

This post delves into effective strategies for enhancing pricing power on menu items, backed by the latest consumer and menu trend data from Datassential.

1. Flavor innovations as a pricing strategy

Embracing flavor fusion and innovative sauces is an excellent strategy for enhancing menu appeal and pricing. Items with sauces like Parmesan garlic and chipotle aioli command higher prices (40% and 20%, respectively) than those without.1

These flavors cater to the growing consumer demand for unique and complex taste profiles. By incorporating these sauces, restaurants can offer distinctive dishes that stand out in a competitive market, allowing them to charge premium prices.

A perfect example of this type of innovation is the new line of Simplot® Harvest Fresh® Flavored Avocado Spreads. These unexpected combinations of Mexican avocado and chef-inspired ingredients appeal to consumers’ proven passion for avocado (see below) and new, unique flavors. Currently, two intriguing flavors are available (a third is coming this fall).

Simplot® Harvest Fresh® Dill Pickle Flavored Avocado Spread
This is a mouthwatering mashup of Mexican avocado pulp and dill pickle seasoning. Turn your everyday burgers, sandwiches and wraps into something crave-worthy—and charge more! (See below for more information on the pricing power of dill flavor.)
View Product »

Simplot® Harvest Fresh® Cucumber Tzatziki Flavored Avocado Spread
Add refreshing flavor and pricing power to everything from Mediterranean items to wraps, bowls and pitas. You’ll love the tang of tzatziki, crisp cucumbers and buttery avocado in every bite. (See below for more on tzatziki’s pricing power.)
View Product »

2. Pricing power through premium ingredients

Certain ingredients naturally command a higher price, and their inclusion in dishes can significantly elevate menu pricing. For instance, caramelized onions add an average price increase of 39% to appetizer soups and chili.1 Similarly, the addition of avocado can transform the humble baked potato into a premium dish, justifying a 251% higher price point.1


Tip: Innovative products like Simplot’s new Simple Goodness™ Premium Vegetables Caramelized-Style Onions make it easy—and fast—to add the classic flavor of caramelized onions in as little as 2-3 minutes. Just warm and serve.

By strategically incorporating such ingredients, restaurants can not only increase the perceived value of their dishes but also attract customers willing to pay more for premium experiences.

3. Capitalizing on consumer favorites and emerging trends

Our first point of focus is on dishes that have seen a significant increase in consumer affinity over the past two years, as reported by Datassential.

For instance, while BLTs have seen a 10% increase in love ratings, their penetration on menus has decreased by 5%.1 Conversely, Loaded Tots, despite being present on only 1.4% of menus, have witnessed a staggering 31% growth.1


This disparity between consumer love and menu presence represents a prime opportunity for restaurateurs to revisit these favorites, possibly with innovative twists, to draw in more customers and justify a higher price point.

4. The magic of add-ons: The case of fries and veggie apps

Simple modifications to classic dishes can lead to substantial increases in menu pricing. A clear example is the transformation of basic fries to loaded fries, which sees a median price jump from $4.19 to $7.00—an impressive 67% increase.1

While standard veggie sides like carrots and corn occupy the lower end of the pricing spectrum, vegetables like Brussels sprouts and cauliflower offer significant profit potential. The median price for a Brussels sprouts appetizer sits at a healthy $10.00 compared to $4.99 for all veggie apps/sides.1 Explore unique veggie options and experiment with interesting flavor combinations to create crave-worthy dishes that command higher prices.

Implementing effective menu pricing strategies

Implementing these strategies requires a nuanced approach, balancing cost, consumer demand, and competitive dynamics. Here are some actionable tips for restaurant owners and managers looking to optimize their menu pricing:

  • Analyze consumer data: Regularly review consumer preference trends to identify which dishes are gaining popularity and deserve a spot or a revamp on your menu.

  • Incorporate premium ingredients: Selectively use ingredients that can justify a higher price point. Highlight these ingredients in your menu descriptions to enhance their perceived value.

  • Experiment with flavors: Keep your menu exciting by introducing new flavors and sauces, especially those showing significant growth in consumer preference.

  • Adjust based on feedback: Use customer feedback to tweak dishes, ensuring they meet taste expectations and justify their pricing.

By focusing on consumer preferences, innovative uses of ingredients, and dynamic pricing strategies, restaurants can significantly enhance their pricing power, leading to improved profitability and customer satisfaction. With these insights, restaurateurs are well-equipped to design a menu that satisfies the modern consumer while supporting a thriving business.

1Datassential, MenuTrends, March 2024