*Fast casual’s momentum continues. The fast casual format’s impressive growth — which has been driven by consumers’ willingness to pay more (despite continued price-consciousness) for healthier and better-quality offerings — is expected to enjoy continued momentum, thanks in part to a “slew” of new concepts focusing on customization, speed of service and convenience.
These include higher-quality burger chains; concepts more firmly focused on health; and a growing number of pizza restaurants that can deliver a fully-cooked, customized pizza in a matter of minutes.
*Premium proves practical. Full-service concepts are adopting fast casual practices to boost their own performance. For example, several full-service brands are testing or have launched concepts that employ the speedier fast casual service model (particularly important during the lunch rush). Other tactics include launching healthier, more flavorful menu items and employing technology to speed up the dining experience.
*Open-book business practices. Consumers are increasingly demanding transparency not only in restaurants’ ingredient sourcing (and treatment of animals in the supply chain), but in general business practices, including employee policies and treatment. Consumers are interested in patronizing restaurants and buying brands that reflect their own values. Concepts that understand this and offer more information about their green practices or the causes they support stand to reap the rewards of increased loyalty.
*Due demographic diligence. While restaurant operators’ “obsession” with Millennials is understandable, given that Millennials are the most likely to dine out in nearly every restaurant segment, other demographics also represent important opportunities.
Specifically, serving the rapidly expanding Hispanic population (whose spending power is projected to reach nearly $1.7 trillion by 2017) is critical to restaurants’ growth in the years ahead. Moreover, Hispanics tend to dine out in larger groups.
Women visit restaurants less frequently than men, which likely reflects women being more health- and budget-conscious. This points to opportunities for restaurants to attract more business from women by focusing on pricing, atmosphere and menu offerings.
While Baby Boomers enjoy dining out and have more disposable income than other demographics, few restaurant marketing campaigns have specifically targeted this demographic.
*The technology interface revolution. Restaurants are increasingly employing technology to cut service times, and to offer loyalty programs, promotions and discounts electronically. Growing numbers are also offering in-store table-top tablets and menu boards that provide nutritional and other information, while reducing order, wait and check-out times.
In addition, brands are redesigning their Web sites to allow consumers to access information (and order) with as few clicks as possible, and to be user-friendly across smartphones and other mobile devices.
2014 Culinary Trends
Meanwhile, the NRA’s “What’s Hot” culinary forecast for the year ahead (based on surveying nearly 1,300 professional chefs) highlights 10 key trends, including: locally sourced meats and seafoods; locally grown produce; environmental sustainability; healthful kids’ meals and a focus on children’s nutrition; gluten-free cuisine; hyper-local sourcing (such as restaurant gardens); non-wheat noodles and pasta (such as quinoa, rice, buckwheat); sustainable seafood; and farm/estate-branded menu items.
The five items with the highest points as “perennial trends” were fried chicken, Italian cuisine, frying, barbecue and eggs Benedict.
The big alcohol/cocktail trends for 2014 include micro-distilled/artisan spirits, locally produced beer/wine/spirits, on-site barrel-aged drinks, culinary cocktails (e.g., using savory, fresh ingredients) and regional signature cocktails.
Current trends expected to continue in 2014 include foam/froth/air, bacon-flavored chocolate, fish offal, gazpacho and fun-shaped children’s items.
For more culinary forecast trends are summarized on National Restaurant Association’s site.
Source: mediapost.com, 12-19-13
And the common view that kosher is somehow better, purer, and healthier than non-kosher foods is an opportunity for the kosher food industry.
Food trends thrive on perception, not reality. Fewer than 3% of the U.S. population are allergic to gluten, but the protein has concerned so many eaters who are convinced that they suffer from this aliment that items without the offensive ingredient are now featured as such on restaurant menus, packaged foods, and even on the boxes of Rice Krispies cereal.
Now, there is money to be made from people with food issues. And the kosher food industry is at a turning point if it hopes to become the next gluten-free trend. Over the past 50 years, kosher has slowly been embraced by mainstream brands.
Total kosher sales in 1960 represented 10% of total kosher food sales in 2010, according to the Kosher Advisory Service. Kosher products are projected to generate $17 billion in sales in 2013. There are 3,400 companies that are certified with the Orthodox Union, one of the largest organizations that grants kosher certification, and there are 70,000 products in grocery stores that are kosher, up from 3,000 in 1970, according to the Kosher Advisory Service. Large corporations and other giants are not paying millions to participate in kosher programs to exclusively reach the observant, but they are doing it to meet the needs of mainstream Americans who perceive that all kosher products are better in every way, which may or may not be true in all instances.
Indeed, only 15% of those who purchase kosher products do so for religious reasons. Of the 11.2 million Americans who do purchase kosher items, most who seek out kosher products buy the items for food quality (62%), general healthfulness (51%), and food safety (34%). There are four dynamic groups – Jewish that exclusively buy kosher, Jewish that don’t exclusively buy kosher, ‘heimish’ ultra-orthodox Jewish, and the non-Jewish – that buy kosher and each is complex with different reasons drawing them to buy kosher. Kosher means something very different to those that buy it.
Despite this shift to widespread availability, kosher remains a tough sell, both for consumers and the food industry.
There are a number of challenges which currently hinder kosher from reaching its full potential. Unlike the organic industry, there isn’t a cohesive or collaborative effort to promote the kosher industry as a whole. Each of the four major organizations that grant kosher certification, for instance, all use different symbols. These varying signs make it challenging for consumers to recognize or identify kosher products. Everyone in the kosher industry really needs to get behind it. They need to get the word out. The organic seal has meaning and is well-known.
In addition to the lack of a universal and recognizable symbol, food brands and grocers all enact different strategies to market kosher goods. It seems companies spend millions to ensure their products are kosher, but keep this certification hidden from everyone but those who know how to look for it.
Consumers, for their part, typically have two key obstacles when it comes to purchasing kosher products. First, there’s kosher’s religious affiliation with Judaism which means to many non-Jewish individuals that kosher isn’t for them. Kosher’s biggest challenge is its identity. It’s a double-edged sword. There’s the baggage with the Jewish connection, but there is also comfort in all of that. The other challenge is a simple lack of awareness.
Still, global and cultural trends have filtered through to a new generation that is less likely to care if kosher is connected to a religion. Now, the more pressing challenge is education, or lack thereof. People may not know kosher as a product that has been blessed by a rabbi, but why? More consumers need to know why purchasing kosher products may be beneficial to them.
Kosher should be perceived as a positive thing and not as a lecture on religious observances.
Although many with lactose intolerances and milk allergies look for the “pareve” designation on kosher products, the kosher industry could do a better job to target those with allergies and food intolerances, and vegetarians. In other words, anyone with food issues. Execution of an educational campaign which clearly explains the many benefits of kosher; the easier identification of kosher products; and appealing to those with food issues will greatly assist kosher in penetratinng the mainstream food market. It really involves the repositioning of kosher. Most vaguely know what it means for the Jewish, but they need to discover the benefit for themselves. Only when people are certain it applies to them will they pay [extra] for a kosher-certified product. Once the educated care about something, they become vocal, and then the mainstream follow.
One good thing that kosher does have going for it is that it evokes feelings of trust in Americans who don’t fully trust the global food industry. So many people don’t fully trust the government and the food industry to handle their food. Kosher is an extra stamp that certify that it is what it says it is.
Ultimately, whether kosher becomes the next big food trend may simply come down to competition. There are only so many trends that the food industry can embrace, and many grocers and food brands are still evaluating gluten-free. It’s hard to quickly act upon a new trend in the marketplace. For instance, people are currently weighing several emerging trends including kosher, gluten-free, made in the U.S.A., all-natural, and serving sized packaging. There is only so much package space to tout all of the latest trends. Whether kosher makes the front of the package remains to be decided.
Source: forbes.com, 12-2-13
How to Cook Cranberries It’s almost an American rite of passage to understand how to cook cranberries. One of the few fruits native to the continent, cranberries emerged as a dietary staple in the 1550s, eaten fresh, ground, mashed or baked into bread. Some of the preparation methods may have changed through the years, but one thing has remained constant: the use of a sweetener to balance the berry’s tartness. Sugar and honey are almost always a part of cranberry recipes. Cranberries should be cooked until their skins burst; be sure not to overcook or they’ll become bitter. According to the USDA, cranberries offer one of the highest levels of antioxidants compared to other fruits. Studies have also found they reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, maintain urinary tract health, and possibly even positively affect teeth and gums. Fresh cranberries are available September through December. If you plan on cooking with them during the off-season, simply pop the store-bought bags in the freezer–they will last between 9 and 12 months.
USDA raised its forecasts for total red meat and poultry production for both 2013 and 2014 in its December World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. For 2013, small changes are made to the fourth quarter for the major species, based on slaughter data to date. The forecast for 2014 is raised based on higher […]
The new system, which began on December 2, 2013, will allot assigned spaces to participating trucks for their exclusive use every weekday. They’ll be able to park in the spaces for four hours.
This lottery is intended to bring predictability to the city’s food truck scene, which until now has permitted operators to park wherever they choose.
The assigned spaces are located in spots where trucks tend to congregate to serve the lunch crowd, including Franklin Square, Farragut Square, L’Enfant Plaza and Metro Center.
Trucks that don’t participate can still sell food on district streets, but they have to stay at least 200 feet away from the designated locations and pay parking meter fees.
Source: Washingtonpost.com., 12-2-13
More than most countries, the US has embraced cold coffee, especially in foodservice, with research showing that cold-served coffee’s share of all coffee on menus of US restaurants and coffee houses increased from 19% to 22% between 2009 and 2012.
However, looking at just the first quarter of 2013, its share has jumped from 22% to 24%, highlighting that interest in iced and frozen coffee is not only accelerating, but is now transcending a summer-only appeal.
Cold coffee, especially frozen-blended, has become very trendy in major US cities such as New York, but it’s more than just a momentary fad. Its usage has been building for the last few years and actually reflects the changing tastes of the younger generation.
Data shows that 18-24-year-olds, in stark contrast to older drinkers, are far bigger consumers of iced coffee and they will almost certainly take this habit into their middle age.
While overall, one in five (20%) US consumers drink iced coffee, this figure jumps to 38% of those aged 18-24, compared to just 11% of those aged 55-64, and 5% of those aged over 65. The findings also reveal that 77% of iced coffee drinkers perceive that drinking it makes them feel more productive at work.
Meanwhile, iced coffee, which has dominated restaurant menus for some time now, is seeing its number of menu items decline as people move towards the more indulgent frozen blended coffee options. This is good news for US foodservice, as frozen blended coffees have an incredibly high profit margin, estimated at around 65-70%.
Source: foodbev.com, August 2013