The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating that lately has become a darling of medical researchers. It includes vegetables and grains, not so much meat and, of course, generous portions of olive oil.
The evidence that olive oil is good for your heart has never been more clear. Olive oil is a very healthy food. Researchers consider it more medicine than food.
A big study published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine where researchers in Spain had men and women in their 50s, 60s and 70s who were at risk of heart disease follow one of three diets.
Some ate a low-fat diet, another group ate a Mediterranean diet with nuts. And a third group ate a Mediterranean diet that included almost four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil per day.
So, they could compare the three diets: Was it nuts, was it olive oil or was the low-fat diet beneficial?
And what researchers found was that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent. The nut group, which was consuming olive oil as well, did well, too.
The fact is, there are a huge range of benefits of real extra-virgin olive oil. Olive oil is good for two reasons: It’s mostly unsaturated fat, and extra-virgin oil, which is the highest-grade and least-processed form of olive oil, contains a whole range of other beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols.
But here’s the catch: Unfortunately, it turns out that more than half of the extra-virgin olive oil imported into the U.S. has been shown to be substandard. The fact is, it’s quite often just very low-grade oil that doesn’t give you the taste of the health benefits that extra virgin should give you.
In fact, a study from the University of California, Davis, found that 69 percent of imports tested failed to meet a U.S. Department of Agriculture quality standard. In some cases the oil is just too old. By the time imported olive oil reaches us, it has often been shipped from place to place and sometimes not stored well. Even if it’s not noticeably rancid, many of the heart-healthy compounds have degraded and fizzled.
“Extra-virgin olive oil is fresh-squeezed juice — it’s a fruit juice — therefore freshness is a critical question. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration used to police olive oil imports to ensure producers were meeting quality and freshness standards. But those efforts have fallen off. So, where does that leave those of us who want to get our hands on the healthy stuff?
Look for brands that carry a harvest date on the bottle. Most bottles produced in the U.S. include the date that olives were harvested to produce the oil in the bottle. And the olives were pressed very quickly, so the oil is really fresh.
The most important thing for consumers to remember when they’re purchasing extra-virgin olive oil is that it is not wine: It does not get better with age. It’s never better than the day it was produced.
Now, as long as the olive oil is properly stored, the freshness will hold in the bottle at least for a while. Some bottles now carry an expiration date.
Surprise: Some of the best-tasting extra-virgin olive oils are now being produced domestically. Think Texas, California, Florida.||But as soon as you open the bottle and expose the oil to oxygen and light, it will slowly start to degrade. Experts say a lot of factors determine how quickly an oil deteriorates: everything from the variety of the olives, to how the oil is produced and stored.
But generally speaking, usually we see that oil is no longer good after four to six months after opening.
Oils with the highest levels of heart-healthy compounds tend to be pungent and peppery. Helpful tip: If the oil stings the back of your throat a little that tells you the beneficial polyphenols really are there. Once you have that taste, you get used to the bitterness and pungency, you never go back. And a healthy one, too.
Source: npr.org, 9-30-2013
The National Coffee Association (NCA), published “Coffee Across Generations, “National Coffee Drinking Trends” market research series analyzing the differences in coffee consumption behaviors and attitudes among different generations.
Understanding how coffee consumption patterns vary by age is critical to a marketer’s successful strategies. With today’s widely acknowledged generational differences in temperament, attitude and behavior, it is more important than ever to custom fit marketing approaches to attract and sustain a diverse, yet loyal customer base.
In general, “Coffee Across Generations” reveals that total coffee consumption skews older, while the consumption of gourmet coffee beverages trends younger. Other data show that more mature groups are more likely to use a drip coffee maker, while the younger cohorts favor espresso machines and ready-to-drink coffee. Awareness of single-serve brewers is higher among the older groups, but predisposition to buy one is stronger among younger consumers.
Specifically, the report notes that 78 percent of millennials said they have consumed coffee within the last year, compared with 85 percent of those in Generation X, 86 percent of baby boomers, and 90 percent of more mature consumers. The spread was more pronounced for daily consumption at 47 percent, 68 percent, 72 percent and 80 percent, respectively.
However, for gourmet coffee beverages, the trend is reversed. Seventy-four percent of millennials said they have consumed a gourmet coffee beverage within the last year, compared with 72 percent of Generation Xers, 59 percent of baby boomers, and 53 percent of the more mature consumers.
Regarding coffee brewing methods, 62 percent of the more mature group said they use a drip coffee maker, compared with 53 percent of millennials. As for single-serve brewing systems, 88 percent of baby boomers and 90 percent of the more mature group said they are aware of these machines, compared with 76 percent of millennials. However, approximately one-quarter of millennials and Generation Xers said they would be likely to buy a single-serve brewer, whereas 12 percent of baby boomers and 8 percent of the more mature group said the same.
Source: bevindustry.com, 9-26-2013
According to beverage data, U.S. beverage production volume approached 29.8 billion gallons in 2012, an increase of 1 percent over previous years. This data presents a strong argument that beverage consumption continues to rise in the U.S. While catering out of restaurants is another market segment for your brand, there is now ample opportunity to successfully meet consumer demand for beverage options within your existing or developing catering program.
Many speak regularly about how having a profitable menu mix is crucial for driving incremental catering sales in our restaurants. While our catering menus must focus on providing the best experience our brand can execute, lets focus this discussion on the attributes that make up a great beverage platform for your restaurant’s catering program.
Let’s imagine that you are about to cater a business breakfast for 15 people. A strong breakfast catering program must include coffee, tea, juice and water. Depending on your brand, even if breakfast is not in your DNA, you will need to decide if you will offer a catering service for the morning. Often, customers needing catering services throughout the day will call you for lunch and breakfast. You will need to offer a beverage solution that works for both dayparts.
If you cannot manage hot coffee and tea, consider co-branding your morning service with a strong coffee brand to make sure your client does not go shopping elsewhere. If you decide to pass on offering beverage solutions for the morning, then consider eliminating a morning catering program altogether. You just won’t be able to do a good job in that catering category without a hot beverage program.
Now, as you continue down the beverage path, consider your packaging carefully as well as your flavor profile. Often brands offer consumer-based beverage products for the boardroom table. While that may work in terms of offering an easy solution, this type of offering to consumer-based beverages that are readily available in convenience and grocery stores might be a lost opportunity for maximizing your catering profits. Consumers understand the market price for a can of soda, for example. This makes it very difficult to sell a can of soda above market price. This is important because with the dynamics of a catering transaction, often you have to manage the hidden costs of house accounts and distribution. Therefore, you might have a hard time making sufficient profit margins on these products to ensure you have a healthy catering operation out of your restaurants.
There are several ways to get around this commodity-based perception. For one, create a proprietary beverage such as lemonade or iced tea that is brewed in house and has the right label on it promoting your brand. This will allow you to sell “by the gallon” for example. Providing bulk beverages to clients looking to fulfill a specific need adds a level of differentiation to your brand and locks down your catering program.
Of course, you might still need to offer canned sodas; however, your catering sales representatives will really need to explain to your customers why your prices are far above grocery and convenience store ones. This is so that your customers don’t feel sensitive to what they will need to pay in order to make it worthwhile for you.
The full-service offering of beverages such as coffee — complete with cups, stir sticks, cream and sugar — juice, iced tea and other beverages, provided to customers in a way that fits the need of their occasion and delivers on the catering experience, will win over many convenience-oriented customers for your catering operations. It is crucial that you differentiate your beverage program so that it is as unique as possible to your brand’s catering experience. Anything less will result in a price war and a dilution of your brand’s catering experience. You can easily lose a customer by overcharging them for a can of soda, for example.
Don’t forget that marketing will play a strong role in communicating your food and beverage menu mix to your catering customers. In order to really drive higher-margin catering sales, your marketing team should make a lot of noise around it — both internally and externally. Make your catering packages — complete with proprietary beverage pairings — extremely visible to your in-store guests. Build awareness with your in-store customers while your sales teams build awareness with your corporate catering customers.
Your catering sales teams will automatically know which beverages best pair with the occasion-based orders they are taking on a daily basis and they will direct catering clients to the appropriate pairing that fits their needs.
Your catering program should not be about anything else except creating a menu experience that your customers want in order to fill demand. Make a profitable and flavorful beverage solution a part of that experience and watch your customers come back for more services. Keep it thoughtful and differentiate it from your in-store beverage programs.
Source: fastcasual.com, 9-16-2013