Posts Tagged ‘USDA’

The Domino’s Pizza Government Bailout

November 19, 2010

Cheesier pizza simply tastes better than less cheesy pizza. Who knew, right? Well it turns out that Domino’s Pizza didn’t know about it. Their sales had been nose diving last year and their pizza had been voted the worst tasting pizza in the entire country. Yikes!

However, that’s not what this story is about. Instead, we’re more interested in how Domino’s managed to turn things around. It seems they got a government bailout, just like the banks and the car companies last year.

Government Agency to the Rescue

An organization called Dairy Management stepped in to help out the ailing pizza chain and get them back on their feet financially. The organization worked with Domino’s to come up with a new recipe for their pizzas which has forty percent more cheese on it than the old ones did.

They also helped them plan a $12 million marketing bonanza to advertise their new pies and to get people back in the door. Sales jumped and everything seemed to going their way. However, there’s one interesting wrinkle. Dairy Management is a government agency, not a private firm.

A Creation of the USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture funded and indeed created Dairy Management in order to help their core constituency to be more competitive in the world of dairy products. The organization exists solely to promote dairy products and cheese in this country. The fact that a government agency is stepping in to help however has some people up in arms.

No Less than the First Lady Herself

What makes this whole incident so amusing is that the first lady herself, Michelle Obama, has been pleading with restaurants to try to make their menus healthier while Dairy Management has been spending some $140 million to promote eating more cheese. While cheese may be tasty, it is not always the healthiest thing to eat in large quantities.

Bottom Line

The bottom line of course for us as restaurateurs is to try to balance the demands. Ultimately, we need to provide what our customers want to eat and not what the government says we should be serving. Luckily for Domino’s, the government and the market both agree on more cheese!

Getting Kids to Make Healthier Food Choices Isn’t Easy

November 7, 2010

Most of us see lots of kids come into our establishments to eat with their parents. It’s even possible that your particular establishment caters specifically to kids if you run a neighborhood pizza shop or burger joint.

However, there are also times when those of us running a more upscale restaurant grit our teeth and wonder how we can keep our other guests happy while not alienating families who may have children who just don’t want to eat a healthy meal.

Worried About the “Kid Conflict”?  You’re Not Alone.

If you’ve ever faced that problem, you’ll be glad to know you’re not alone. In fact, the USDA is so concerned about trying to get kids to eat healthy that they recently announced a new $2 million dollar campaign to try to change kids’ attitudes about school lunches.

The idea is to try and get kids to want to eat a healthy diet rather than the junk food that is often served in school cafeterias and on many of our own kids’ menus.

An Organization for Healthier Kids

The idea is to create a brand think tank called the Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs. The new organization will be based at Cornell University in New York State and will fund a number of studies in other states as well. The question they’ll be asking is: How can we get kids to want to eat healthier foods?

This is a question that we as restaurateurs, at least in more upscale restaurants need to be asking ourselves as well. Depending on the kind of place you run, you may have a tough time when the 10 year old comes in with her parents and they insist that she eat the foie gras.

How to Get Kids to Eat Healthily

One suggestion, which we frankly wonder about since it’s heavy handed and not likely to succeed (not to mention it doesn’t help us with ideas in our own industry) is to issue meal cards that can only be used to purchase healthy foods.

What are some ways that you use to get kids in your restaurant to quiet down and eat with their families? We’d love to hear about it. If you want to read more about the initiative, just visit their web site.

Is It Time to Start Pigging Out on Hogs?

July 20, 2010

The USDA recently released their quarterly report on the number of hogs available for slaughter, breeding and sowing in the United States. The numbers are showing some improvement over last quarter, with a slight uptick since the previous report. However, the numbers are down overall since the same time last year. That said, some analysts examining the reports say they expect to see the numbers continuing to increase over the coming months due to increased survival rates.

So does that mean you should start adding more hog products to your menus or lowering prices? Well, the answer is a definite maybe…

Down for Now, But Possibly Up Longer Term

The pig population in the United States as of June 1 was 64.4 million head. That’s down 4% from the same date last year, however it is up 1% from March and the numbers look set to continue to rise at a slow, but steady pace.

What it All Means

Right now, Wall Street analysts say that they expect the numbers to continue to rise meaning that there will be a slight glut in the inventory available in the coming months. This should theoretically cause a slight decline in fresh pork prices, meaning better bottom lines for restaurateurs and other food service professionals who use pork and other hog related products extensively in their menu.

So Does This Mean Prices Will Come Down Substantially?

On the one hand, the number of pigs available on the market should increase, theoretically showing a slight decline in prices. On the other hand, the pig population is still at its lowest level since 2007 and the United States is now exporting pork to the Russian market, which means demand should keep up with supply.

The only question is how high the numbers will go. If they go too high, supply will begin to outstrip demand, leading to lower prices. But will that actually happen? As we said, the answer is a definite…maybe.