Archive for March, 2012

Catching Up on How the GMO Concerns Affect Food and Beverage

March 29, 2012

If you haven’t paid much attention to the GMO debate, here’s a quick rundown. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Food. A large part of the debate is centered on politics and/or healthy food choices.

Health Concerns of GMOs

GMOs have been around since the ‘80s. Genes are modified, deleted, and added to form genes of plants that are unrelated. In order to penetrate the cell membrane, a virus is often attached to the gene with a small syringe.

The modifications are designed to make a strong crop that is resistant to herbicides and produces their own pesticide from within—and here lies the health concerns. Many protests and court cases have gotten a lot of media attention over this. Others, such as Bill Gates, are strong supporters of what they see as a stronger crop.

Politics of GMOs

The big debate over this is that there is a patent on some of the crops owned by Monsanto—namely the corn. They have sued some farmers that have not bought their patented seeds, but the GMO crops have cross-pollinated their crops.

This has cost a lot of farmers money. Furthermore, some farmers just don’t want anything to do with the seeds.

Where Do Restaurants Fit into the GMO Debate?

You may have noticed that many health food stores and restaurants are advertising GMO-free foods. Staying away from these foods can be hard. They’re in many shelved items and you won’t ever know it.

To this date, no procedures exist to warn consumers that there are GMOs in the food by labeling the foods. So, farmers and commercial producers of food items are working together to produce non-GMO foods and advertise it on the packages.

This trend is rising in popularity right behind the organic, gluten-free, and soy-free food trends. Keep your eye out on this trend. Whatever side of the fence that you stand on, you may want to pay attention to what your consumers think about this.



RMG’s 5 Favorite Innovative and Award-Winning Products Announced at NRA 2012

March 27, 2012

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) announced the recipients of the most innovative products in 2012 on March 7th. Eighteen recipients will be honored in the annual show from May 5th to May 8th in the Food and Beverage Products Innovations Gallery.


After looking at the list, we picked out seven items that we think that you should keep your eye on if you’re in the food and beverage business.


Tempura Battered Extreme Beans


Cavendiah Farms took Kentucky flat beans and dipped them in a uniquely spiced tempura batter. They look good on plates and are a tasty alternative to the friend green bean trend.


MaxSnax BBQ Chicken


ConAgra’s line of Max Fit for Kids Plus made a tasty product that also passes the new National School Lunch standards. They took three mini handheld triangles of whole grain quesadilla dough, lean chicken, cheese and a tangy BBQ sauce. School lunches that are both palatable and meet the new standards of healthy are hot this year.


Copa di Vino Wine (Copal)


What’s special about this wine? It reduces costs and it’s green. Forego the bottle and put the wine straight into a recyclable and sealed plastic cup—portable and quick. Perfect for foodservice on the go.


3-in-1 Soup, Sauce, and Dip


HJ Heinz put out a frozen base that is designed to be three menu items in one. It saves space and it’s easy to work with. For soup, you add water. For sauce, you add milk. For dip, you add sour cream. Simple, fast, and tasty.


Simplii Oat Shakes


We think that this one is especially interesting because the judges say it tastes great and it has all of the qualifiers of some of the biggest taste trends in the industry right now. We have one question, though, is it gluten free, too?


  • Oat based
  • Dairy free
  • Soy free
  • Non-GMO
  • 100% vegan


Survey Reveals How Slip and Fall Accidents Indirectly Hurt Profits

March 23, 2012

Cintas Corporation recently conducted a telephone survey with Harris Interactive regarding the indirect risks of slip-and-fall accidents in restaurants. The survey revealed that 1 in 3 Americans would be unlikely to dine at a restaurant if they knew that an accident had recently occurred there.

With these ratios, over 60 million Americans choose to eat somewhere else other than a restaurant that has recently had an accident.

What Do the Survey Results Really Say About Accidents in a Restaurant?

This was based on the telephone survey that Harris Interactive conducted with 1,000 adults over 18 years-old in specific regions of the US. Adults in the Northeast were more likely to forego eating out at a restaurant that had a recent slip and fall than those in the Midwest or South.

The Northeast reported up to 23 percent would not dine at a restaurant with an accident, while the Midwest resulted in 13 percent and the South came in at 11 percent.

On the other hand, gender and age factored into the survey less significantly than geographical location.

Safety and Injuries in Food Service and Profitability

Director of Marketing and Strategy, David Collette of Cintas Foodservice  stated, “We’ve always known that slip-and-fall accidents result in increased costs due to litigation or injury, but this research shows that the cost of an accident might be even greater than initially thought.”

To illustrate this problem, on an annual basis 3 million food service employees and 1 million guests are injured. According to the National Floor and Safety Institute (NSFI) the injuries are increasing 10 percent each year.

Preventing Future Accidents

The most significant part of these statistics indicates that while the economy picks up, so will the restaurant business. Putting a good safe floor program in place will help long term costs associated with future business opportunities.


3 Restaurant Franchises Expecting Growth During a Weak Economy

March 19, 2012

It’s a safe bet to say that there aren’t many people that aren’t concerned about the current state of the economy. The nationwide unemployment rate still lingers at 8.3 percent and the U.S. economy is saturated in debt. Though all of us are feeling the pain of a weak economy, restaurant owners are plagued with addressing this issue on a daily basis.


Fortunately, hope is on the horizon. A recent boom in up-and-coming restaurant franchises addresses many of the concerns that Americans face in their dining choices. Three of the top franchise executives talked about their strategies to expand and at the same time cut costs.


Bill Spae of Cici’s Pizza


CiCi’s Pizza has over 584 units. They are expecting to open 30 this year and have signed agreements with 100 other franchisees. Their strategy to get investors? They are offering an internal funding program.


By setting aside $5 million dollars to investors that are carefully chosen through a strict criteria, they have set up a program that works for all involved. The banks are willing to loan the additional money with a large amount down, CiCi’s gets a low risk investment, and the investor is able to get the backing that is especially hard in this economy.


Mike Liautaud of Milio’s Sandwich System


Liautaud has plans for 200 new locations with 40 units in operation. Liautaud experienced a reprieve in franchising last year, but he refined his system, weeded out unprofitable locations and strategies, and targeted investors that weren’t doing well in the stock market.


Jason Chodash of Tossed System


Tossed System is a new franchise, but there are big plans in the works. Chodash now has six units with two more expected to open in 2012. Although this doesn’t seem like much, over 69 additional units are slated to open.


They feature customizable salads, as well as sandwiches, soups and wraps. All salads are freshly prepared in front of you. His franchise strategy is considered cutting edge with a flexible footprint that works in almost any location.



Catering to the Teen and Tween Markets

March 8, 2012

It’s taken some restaurateurs a little while to accommodate the idea of “tweens” – those 9-to-12 year olds who are making up an increasingly important market segment. And new info by Technomic and C3 shows that it can’t hurt to have menu items that appeal to guests in this age group.


The information was taken from a survey that included more than 1,500 customers to compile a rough picture of teen and “tween” dining habits.


What the Tweens told Technomic


This “older younger guest” set told Technomic that they specifically wanted separate menus for themselves. Of course they don’t want the “kiddie” menus. But adult menus can seem scary or – worse – downright boring.


What should you put on your tween menus? The answers will depend on both the food and the demographic(s) you serve. Menu items should be mostly simple – yet customizable enough to let your tween customers feel in control of their dining experience. And above all, they shouldn’t be boring!


But What About Teen Restaurant Guests?


Teens are a little more adventurous than their younger tween counterparts. They told the surveyors that they are looking for exciting new concepts.


This doesn’t have to be just about the food they eat. It can include rule-breaking novelties (such as the “throw your peanut shells on the floor” style of some chain steakhouses) or high-tech gadgetry. Buffalo Wild Wings is testing out iPads in one of its locations in Toronto, and you can bet this would be an easy hit with most teens.


You don’t have to drop thousands of dollars on Apple products to entice technology-literate teens, however. A whole host of electronic devices are being introduced that allow guests to order and even pay without ever leaving their table, or having to wait for your wait staff to input their orders.


Teen and Tween Voting Power


58% of teens and 54% of tweens told Technomic that their families worked together to decide on where the family should eat out. So it definitely pays to make sure you keep your teen and tween guests in mind the next time you revamp your menus.

5 Restaurant Trends for 2012

March 6, 2012

Consumer research firm Mintel recently noted five trends it believes will influence U.S. restaurant menus in 2012. Some of them are relatively new, while some are constants. I’ve briefly outlined these five factors below. Read them and let me know what you think.


Consumer Control


Let’s face it: everybody likes to take control now and then, even if it’s just over what they eat. In fact, anyone who’s worked the floor for even a single shift knows that guests like to have as much control and say-so as possible while they are in your establishment!


This is something that most smart operators try to cater to more and more every year. It can mean offering more options for each dish. In the past couple of years, it may also mean offering mobile ordering apps or even iPads at your dining tables.

Whatever the case, the trend towards patrons’ control over their dining experience is likely to only increase – which is probably good for everybody.


“Slow Food”


“Home style” and similarly-themed menu items have been popping up on menus across the country in the past few years – including fast food menus! Mintel puts this down to customers who have finally decided they need more than just efficiency from their fast food restaurants. The company expects this trend to further affect the food service landscape in 2012.


“Double-Sided” Menus


Restaurants of all types are paying more attention to customers’ wishes for healthier menus. For the foreseeable future, most chains, franchises, and even mom & pop operations will likely offer lower-calorie or other “healthy” food items, while still offering more “traditional” dining-out choices.


Global Consciousness


Many large chains and franchises test out ideas in other national markets before they bring them back to the U.S. One example would be the McBite, which McDonald’s tested in Australia before releasing the idea in America.


This same kind of global reach also means that ideas from across the globe are working their way into U.S. franchise menus. It is likely that this trend will only increase.


Appreciation of American Regional Cooking


Finally, Americans are becoming more conscious of cuisine from all over the U.S. One example would be the Philly cheesesteak sandwich, which has gained popularity all over the United States in the past decade. You can find Cajun-themed restaurants hundreds of miles from New Orleans, and Southwestern-themed chains all over the country.

Wendy’s to Go Back to Japan via Joint Venture

March 2, 2012

Some of you undoubtedly already know that Wendy’s got out of the Japanese market in 2009 when it was unable to meet satisfactory terms with partner Zensho Co. The new venture will feature upscale restaurants in a joint venture with the Higa Industries Co.


A New Wendy’s Line-Up


While the new stores will feature items any American would be used to, such as chili, Frosties and the fast-food restaurant’s easily recognizable square hamburger patties, there will be some items that might seem a little off-the-wall to the casual fast food diner.


What kinds of new items are being offered specifically to the Japanese market? How about a Truffle and Porcini Grilled Chicken Sandwich?


If that doesn’t float your boat, you could also try the new Avocado Wasabi hamburger. And if neither one of these items sounds appealing to you, you can always opt for the good old-fashioned Wendy’s burger with a square beef patty.


How Many New Wendy’s in Japan?


For now, only one restaurant is opening. This Wendy’s will open in Tokyo (in the Omotesando area, for those of you who make frequent trips).


But Wendy’s doesn’t plan to stop there. The Dublin, Ohio-based chain plans to open 100 new stores in Japan over the next five years. It estimates that, long-term, Japan could support as many as 700 Wendy’s restaurants.


More About Wendy’s Japanese Partner Higa Industries


Owned by Ernest Higa, Higa Industries Co. owned 180 Domino’s Pizza stores at one time. The company founded the franchise in Japan, then sold them in February 2010. Company founder Ernest Higa will be the chief executive of the Wendy’s-Higa joint venture.


Ernest Higa was born in Hawaii and attended Columbia University, of which he is a graduate. He is also a member of Keizai Doyukai, a major Japanese business group. He is credited with the birth of the pizza delivery industry in Japan.