Fast-casual restaurants focusing on healthy choice, locally grown foods are growing at a fast pace, The Tampa Tribune reports. In addition to good, fresh food, Americans are looking for choices that provide healthy benefits as well. The sector that is meeting their needs? Vegan and vegetarian restaurants, which grew 30% from 2013 to 2014 to total $384 million in annual sales.
Final Four Of Food
Forget about basketball. Food Management’s March Madness Food brackets recently wrapped up with a literal eat-off among eight school dining programs including the University of Kentucky, the University of Virginia, Duke University, Gonzaga University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Arizona, and Villanova University .And the winner? The Villanova Wildcats and their entry, Café Nova Spinach and Mushroom Flatbread, bested Brella’s Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap from the University of Kansas.
New Study Reveals Public Cost Of Low Restaurant Wages
A new report issued by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United alleges that low restaurant wages are costing American taxpayers more than $9 billion a year in public assistance programs, QSRWeb reports. Key findings of the new study note:
· Nearly half of the families of full-service restaurant workers are enrolled in one or more public-assistance programs.
· The cost of public assistance to families of workers in the full-service restaurant industry is $9,434,067,497 per year.
· Tipped restaurant workers live in poverty at 2.5 times the rate of the overall workforce.
· Restaurant workers experience poverty at a rate over twice that of the overall workforce – 20.9 percent.
According to the report, the current federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13 and helps to explain why restaurants workers account for 80% of the lowest-paid occupations in the U.S.
Higher Wages Could End Dollar Menus
The CEO of Burger King says that dollar menus will likely disappear as hourly wages increase. Offsetting the bad news for dollar menu fans is the fact that food will gradually increase in quality. “I see a lot of $10 hamburgers arriving on the scene, Burger King CEO David Edgerton tells TIME Magazine.
Organic Foods Growing In Popularity
Organic products are on a roll. Sales are up 11% in 2014 from the previous year and the majority of Americans say they regularly buy organic products, the Organic Trade Association reports. In addition, the number of organic producers is up more than 250% since 2002. A Harris Poll, meanwhile, finds that 57% of organic buyers believe that companies call their products organic in order to charge more for them, while 56% do believe that organic products are healthier.
Hispanic Diners Increasing
Researchers from NPD Group say that Hispanics dining out are up 4% last year. In addition, researchers find that Hispanics dine out with their families more than non-Hispanics and end up spending on average 4% more than their non-Hispanic counterparts.
The Top Five Restaurant Consumer Brands
1. Ruth Chris Steak House
3. The Capital Grille
4. McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood and Steaks
5. The Melting Pot
Dunkin Donuts Removes Nanoparticles From Donuts
With growing concerns over the safety of nanomaterials in food, Dunkin Donuts is removing those ingredients from its products. In particular, the company is removing titanium dioxide used as a whitening agent in its powdered donuts. Nanomaterials are extremely small engineered structures used increasingly in the food industry to enhance color, flavor, and freshness. Recent studies, however, now question the safety of nanomaterials to human health.
Water Woes In West Hit Prices
According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, 40% of California is now in an “exceptional drought,” up from 23% last year. While the state has yet to impose water restrictions on agriculture, people are already feeling the pinch at the cash register, The Wall Street Journal reports. The price of romaine lettuce, for example, is already up 60 cents a pound. As the summer months approach, other California fruits and vegetables likely to see drought-induced price increases are celery, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, grapes, plums, prunes, strawberries, apricots, lemons, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and avocados. California supplies the U.S. with roughly 70% of these fruits and vegetables.
Key Commodity Prices As Of April 17