Veggies are definitely not Oranges, but the leading Veggie Side is an Orange colored veggie — Carrots. Carrot Side Dishes may be found on 89% of school menus. Carrots, which are a nutritionally essential Yellow-Orange vegetable, compete against more than 25 other vegetable sides of all colors. Carrot sides outshine Corn (86% incidence) and Broccoli (84%) and may claim a 20 point incidence advantage over Mixed Vegetables (65% incidence). Incidentally, carrots were not always Orange and for this we may thank 17th century Dutch growers wishing to pay homage to William of Orange. For centuries, carrots were white, yellow or purple.
Vegetables in K-12 Side Dishes
Count of Items on the K-12 Menu
Category Incidence Percent (base: 175 S.D.)
Average Menu Item Frequency / Month
Sum of Menu Item Frequency / Month
Menu Frequency Share Percent
Carrots / Baby / Sticks
Broccoli Florets / Bites / Buds / Trees
Mixed Veggies / Blends / Medley
Corn / Corn on Cobb / Sweet / Kernal
Peas / Green / Garden / Snow
Celery Sticks / Dippers
Cucumbers / Sticks / Coins / Pinwheels
Tomatoes / Cherry / Grape / Other
15 Other Veggie Sides
According to FlavorTrak K12 Menus, an audit of 175 US school district menus, Carrots have a significant lead over other veggie sides such as Peas (50%), Celery (40%), Cucumbers (32%), Tomatoes (31%), Cauliflower (20%), Collard Greens (15%) and Spinach (14%). The table above lists 10 leading vegetables (out of 25) listed on menus as veggie side dishes.
Equally important as being listed on K-12 menus is frequency of menu listing during the month. Carrot sides are listed an average of 3.5 times on the monthly menu. Summing up all 2,658 monthly menu listings of carrots (column 4, above), gives carrots a crisp 24.4% bite of Sum of Menu Frequency. Excluded from the analysis are vegetables used in prepared entrees, pizza, salads and other menu item classes. Also omitted are potatoes, rice, grains and beans.
Carrots as a side may claim a one in four share (24.4%) of monthly listing frequencies, outpacing Broccoli by nine share points (15.4%), Mixed Vegetables (16.3%) by 8 points and Corn (10.7%) by 13 points. Green is also a leading veggie color in sides, mainly because there are a multitude of green items (broccoli, peas, celery, cucumbers, greens, spinach, lettuce). Green enjoys a 37.2% share of color (menu frequency basis) for sides just about even with a 36.2% share for Yellow-Orange (Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Corn), a 17.3% share for All Colors (Mixed plus Asian and Italian), a 5.1% share for Red (Tomatoes and Beets) and a 4.1% share for Whites (Onions and Cauliflower).
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About FlavorTrak K-12 Menus
Foodservice Research Institute specializes in collecting information from commercial and non commercial operators. We created FlavorTrak K-12 Menus to assist your targeted research efforts by quantifying category usage levels. Our experience with the MenuMine menu information database has been used to create a service with an exclusive focus on the school foodservice segment.