For the seventh consecutive month, wholesale prices declined for finished consumer goods, The Food Institute Report says. That places the inflation rate at just about 1% over a year ago at this time. Among the biggest price gainers are beef and veal, eggs, due to the Avian Flu, and confectionary products. The biggest losers are rice, pork, dairy products, and shortening and cooking oils.
Restaurants Continue To Grow
The first part of 2015 has been good for the restaurant business, The Food Institute says, with business up nearly 10%, nearly triple what it was last year at this time. The increase is being credited to an increase in spending among consumers who feel the economy is improving enough for them to spend some of their discretionary dollars outside the home for the first time in a long time. The fact that gas prices have been lower has also helped...but prices at the pump are already increasing in anticipation of summer.
Egg Prices Hurt McDonald's
With egg prices soaring due to the Avian flu, McDonald's is feeling the pinch. About a quarter of the company's revenue comes from breakfast sandwich sales that feature eggs. Already struggling, the chain will have trouble raising prices to make up the difference, industry observers say. Also not helping are the rising prices for chicken white meat used in such items as chicken fingers. To help defray some of the monthly scrutiny it has been under, the company will also stop reporting its monthly sales figures, American City Business Journals reports.
U.S. Foods May Walk Away From Merger
A spokesperson for US Foods says that the company may walk away from its merger with Sysco if federal courts delay a decision much longer. Executive Vice President Daniel Schreibman says U.S. Foods will not undergo any more long delays that continue to place the future of the company in doubt. Over the course of the prolonged merger process, U.S. Foods has lost key executives and market share.
What has been the impact of the drought on California crops so far this year? While some crops have been disappointing, such as a significant drop in navel oranges, onions with downy mildew, and a shortage of asparagus, most commodity products are priced at or below expected levels due to moderate or slow demand for such items as iceberg lettuce, carrots, cukes, and limes.
New Menu Items For Brunch Crowd
American diners love mixing it up when it comes to breakfast and lunch, Nation's Restaurant News reports. To help build the brunch crowd, restaurants are experimenting with expanded crossover entrees. Since the Great Recession, consumers have dined out less in the evenings and at lunch, but the brunch crowd business has grown by more than 3% over the past few years. That has creative chefs adding interesting items to the menu, including more healthy dishes in anticipation that the brunch bunch will continue to grow. Some industry experts see this segment expanding by as much as 7% over the next decade as more Baby Boomers retire and venture out for a healthy bite to eat.
Natural Ingredients Rule
Yum Brands restaurants, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut will remove artificial flavoring and coloring from 95% of their product offerings by 2017, The Wall Street Journal reports. Yum Brands is joining a growing list of companies that have announced similar plans to cut back on artificial ingredients to meet growing customer demands for healthier foods. Also joining in the trend are Chipotle, McDonald's, and Panera Bread, among others. Au Bon Pain, meanwhile, announced that it plans to use antibiotic-free poultry in its wraps, salads, and sandwiches.
Waco Restaurant Violence: Lesson For All
The recent shootings at a Waco, TX, restaurant are a stark reminder that nowhere is safe unless you maintain high standards for security, lighting, and staff training to spot potential issues before they escalate into violence, Nation's Restaurant News reports. That means businesses need to maintain a good, working relationship with local authorities for starters. Restaurant parking lots should also be well lit, and staff should be trained on the restaurant's security policy. In addition to having management on the floor during special events, such as biker nights, it also helps to install a video monitoring system, which is shown to reduce illegal activities.
Showstoppers In Chicago
The NRA show may be history, but many of the 2,100 attendees are still buzzing over some of the new foodservice trends. How about 3D snacks for starters, straight from a printer, or maybe an unending variety of teas, including artisanal teas. Mediterranean fare also proved popular among attendees, who were especially drawn to healthy hummus dishes, oils, and chicken entrees, Smartbrief reports. Another item high on this year's list was optimism, Nation's Restaurant News says, adding that more attendees remained for the full four-day NRA event, a sure sign that people feel more comfortable away from their business than they have in several years.
Huddle House On A Roll
National franchise Huddle House is celebrating its 50th with news that it is growing its 400 restaurant chain into New Jersey as well as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The chain serves a variety of comfort foods and operates on a 24/7 basis, much like a diner with a Southern twist. The company says that it plans to open more than 100 new restaurants over the next three years.
Fine Dining … At The Mall
Not long ago, you would be hard pressed to have a fine dining experience in a mall. No more, Philly.com reports. In the new world of upscale malls, you can find celebrity chefs opening fancy restaurants. Where "you can taste Jose Garces' tacos at Moorestown Mall, Bobby Flay's burgers at Cherry Hill Mall, and filet mignon at Morton's - the Steakhouse at King of Prussia Mall, Philly.com says, adding the growing trend is good for both the restaurants and the mall tenants, who have long sought ways to keep customers from staying longer and coming back for more.
Salads Move Into The Spotlight
From Paris to Pittsburgh, the lowly salad is moving up, in the world, literally. More and more restaurants are now featuring fancy salads as a main course to satisfy hungry, health conscious customers, The Wall Street Journal reports. Sounds good, doesn't it? To help spice up you seasonal menu this summer, you may want your nuts toasted, carrots roasted, and beets seasoned, for starters, topped off maybe with a lobster tail. Have your kitchen look at salad--only this time as a main course. Your customers will be delighted.
Hostess Has Suitors
Close on the heels of being placed back on the market, a streamlined Hostess is drawing attention from Post Foods as well as Group Bimbo, Flowers Foods, and Aryzta AG, The New York Post is reporting. The asking price is $2 billion. Of all the suitors, Flowers needs Hostess the most, analysts say. Losing out to Bimbo, the world’s largest bakery, would be devastating from a competitive position.