Consumers want their food to have an appealing narrative behind it. That’s what Technomic’s Joe Pawlak said during his keynote address at the Multiunit Foodservice Equipment Symposium recently. He predicted that localization and transparency, two trends that can help restaurateurs tell a positive story about their menu, will help drive change in restaurants through 2020. There are many ways to bring your food story to life, QSRweb says, including opening up your kitchen to make your cooking more visible to guests, providing customizable options so guests feel part of the preparation process, or sharing recipes, history, food origins and cooking techniques. Graphics, signage and taglines can help you set the tone too – but they can’t stand alone if your story lacks substance.
When considering an acquisition, mind your talent
This year stands to be another frenetic one for restaurant mergers and acquisitions as investors mine the market for good values. A smooth transition – for both the acquiring company and the acquired – depends on how well you manage change for employees. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, declines in employee engagement and productivity, voluntary attrition and pressure from competitors seeking to snag your employees and customers during an unsettled time are all threats during an acquisition. Avoid them by assessing your talent, then identifying and engaging future leaders and mid-level managers who can serve as your ambassadors. Think about how to motivate employees, financially and otherwise, and ensure you communicate at regular intervals so employees don’t feel the need to speculate – or jump ship.
Healthy foods for the masses
Large food companies and retailers made big strides with health foods recently. Smartblogs reports that General Mills participated in a $3 million investment round in Rhythm Superfoods, a plant-based snack company, and also introduced the first round in a new lineup of cereals made without artificial ingredients. Hershey’s announced the upcoming launch of its SoFit snack brand, which includes packages of nuts and seeds, as well as fruit and protein squeezes. Meanwhile, the retailers Aldi and Target just added healthy snacks to their check-out aisles.
Weather and logistical problems challenge produce markets
Demand exceeds supply for a number of fruits and vegetables right now. Berries from Mexico have suffered from quality issues, weather and transport delays. Citrus fruits and grapes from California are in short supply due to rain, and the same is true for lettuce, onions and squash. Expect tight markets and higher prices for these items in the coming weeks.
The gastrobar steals the spotlight
For a number of years, gastrobars – establishments featuring a bar as the center of interest, high-quality food and a social setting that’s both refined and casual – have won fans in Spain and other European countries. Now the trend is taking off in the U.S. thanks to Spanish-influenced gastrobars popping up across Florida and in select cities renowned for their food. The bar setting encourages guests to share their food and drink, as well as talk about it. Foodable says these restaurants, which make sophisticated food approachable for guests, may pose a threat to both casual outlets and fine-dining restaurants because they provide a high-quality dining experience minus the stuffy atmosphere.
Arby’s keeps franchisees happy
It’s been a good month for Arby’s. First, the Franchise Research Institute named the chain a World-Class Franchise for the glowing feedback it received from its franchisees about Arby’s quality, growth potential, support and communication. Now, Arby’s largest franchisee, United States Beef Corporation, has agreed to open 70 new locations in the next seven years, according to Restaurant News. U.S. Beef already owns 331 Arby’s outlets.
Your kitchen is standing in your way
If you’re trying to bring increased efficiency to your kitchen, QSRweb recommends homing in on a few error-prone areas: Inventory mismanagement can throw off your organization and your budget. Count the equipment, ingredients and utensils used on a weekly or monthly basis using software that can translate those activities into a budget. Ensure your cooking tools are in the right places to maximize convenience and minimize injury and breakage. If someone has a spare minute between kitchen activities, clean up should be a priority. Plan your required meat and vegetables well in advance so you can buy them in bulk, then package and freeze them.
Consumers share top reasons they use mobile to click with brands
Want consumers to connect with your mobile offerings? Deliver branded content to mobile wallets like Apple Wallet and Android Pay – and use those mechanisms to send coupons and reward loyal customers. Those were the prevailing messages in the 2016 Mobile Consumer Report released by the mobile marketing company Vibes. Of the 1,000 consumers surveyed, 32% use a mobile wallet and 94% of those users are likely to save offers and coupons they receive. Respondents said their opinion of a business would improve if they received coupons and offers that could be saved to their smartphones (59%) and if they were able to keep loyalty program information on their phones (66%).
BMW’s new technology is good enough to eat
In an age when companies are manufacturing cars that drive themselves, BMW is joining the fray with a digital device that books restaurant reservations. The driver can make a request on the road – a table for three at a French restaurant, for example – and the car’s technology will connect with a restaurant via cloud computing, book the reservation and navigate to the destination. Eater says the technology will launch in the next few months.
It’s Freecycle for food
Olio, an app for Android and iOS, is looking to connect food suppliers and their leftover food with people and businesses in need. The supplier, whether a business or a home, simply posts a photo of the leftover item along with information about how to claim it. Most foods are free or discounted. So far, the app is available in the U.K. only but its range will expand to other cities based on the number of downloads it gets. Invite other restaurants in your neighborhood to get on board and Olio could launch near you – and give you a good story to share with customers.