“The idea that there is different food for children drives me nuts,” Lynn Fredericks, founder of Family Cook Productions, an organization that teaches healthful family eating, told The Washington Post. Fredericks has launched a national initiative to eliminate children's menus, and her efforts are attracting attention... and support among some of the nation's best chefs. Started in the Great Depression, children's menus were meant to make up for lost liquor revenues, but they devolved into bland foods with little or no nutritional value. Fredrick's campaign hopes to make good food fun to eat for kids, from rainbow displays of veggies with cauliflower clouds to lentil-laden Mac and cheese.
Because of earlier-than-expected harvesting in California and reluctance to immediately replant due to severe water shortages, Romaine and iceberg lettuce is temporarily in short supply, reports Fresh News. That means pricing will increase until Arizona farmers bring their crops to market later this month, but quality and weight may remain an issue.
Slow Recovery Due In Part To Payroll Tax Increase
Back in 2010 the federal government instituted a payroll tax deduction to help workers through the Great Recession. That tax came back last year, and it took a bite out of paychecks that were not keeping pace with inflation, says Nation’s Restaurant News. In fact, not until this past month did the industry finally show a .4 percent upward trend in growth, the first time since 2012. Employees are also coping with the income loss.
Seafood Consumption Sinks
Americans are eating less fish, says Nation's Restaurant News, because of confusion and fear over its safety. Americans ate an average of 14.5 pounds of seafood per person in 2013, a decrease from 14.6 pounds in 2012, 15 pounds in 2010 and 16.5 pounds in 2006, the report says. Shrimp remains at the top of the favorites list, followed by salmon, canned tuna, tilapia, and Alaska Pollock.
Restaurant Deals Are On The Upswing
Business may have a long way to go before returning to robust pre-recession levels, but easier financing, especially from private equity sources, is leading to more deals in the restaurant industry, says National Restaurant News. Sales of existing restaurants, in fact, are up 8% in 2014 and more deals may be coming. The market is so hot; however, some money sources are beginning to get cold feet, Nation’s Restaurant News reports.
Restaurant Visits Drop To 20 Year Low
New research from NPD Group shows that the average American purchased 191 meals in restaurants through the first half of 2014, a low not seen since 1993. “We are eating more meals in our homes, but not cooking more dishes,” says Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group and author of the 29th annual Eating Patterns in America Report. “You can see how Americans are making their lives easier, despite the economic limits, by looking at the foods and beverages that have become a part of more American diets.” What are the top five foods, according to NPD? Yogurt, bottled water, pizza, pork sandwiches, and Mexican food.
Take Out Increases
Taking advantage of the eat-at-home trend, more restaurants, including fine-dining establishments, are experimenting with takeout service, Restaurant Smartbrief reports. Even a handful of the most popular eateries are now offering takeout and delivery of meals using upscale packaging meant to replicate the restaurant experience, but be prepared… it comes at a fancy price.
Patrons Consider a Restaurant's Reputation Before Visiting
A new study by the Culinary Visions Panel found that consumers consider more than just the quality of food and drink before they visit a restaurant. Also important are how well an eatery treats its employees, what it does for the community, and what does it do to promote best business practices that include farm-to-table and fresh foods commitments to customers. When mapping out your objectives for this coming year, it might be a good idea to keep some of these ideas in the forefront of your planning.
Going Green With Takeout
One way to earn respect and more customers is to adopt compostable containers and plates for takeout orders, QSRWeb says. Paper, plastic, and Styrofoam are not biodegradable and are causing huge issues for the environment. Compostable service ware, on the other hand, does biodegrade and would provide a major boost to the nascent green movement gaining stream in the foodservice industry.
Hostess Is Back On The Market
Hostess brands is supposedly back on the market for an estimated $1.5 billion, more than three times what private equity paid for the company only a year ago. Despite losing about 5% of its original market share, Hostess remains profitable. "After jettisoning bread and other brands beyond the snack cakes, the new Hostess has fewer than 2,000 workers and has reopened just four of the company’s 13 snack plants," The New York Post reports. It has also outsourced almost all of its deliveries and has no unions, a fact that has some traditional bakeries in the Northeast already mumbling. Stay tuned.
Sales of organic foods will grow more than 11% of the $32 billion market, The Packer predicts. The market already accounts for 4% of the U.S. food market, while organic fruits and vegetables account for nearly 10% of those markets.
A new startup called OtherShip Foods is banking its future on raising and supplying freshly grown, soil-free produce for restaurants that want only the freshest ingredients. How is it working out? The company places a locked high-tech shipping container that includes a selection of soil-free produce right outside a restaurant's kitchen for easy access. Chefs harvest what they need from the containers, which are restocked as necessary. OtherShip plans to start with micro-greens, baby greens, green onions, leeks, tomatoes, and herbs, before adding pepper variations, cucumbers, some fruit and more. In addition to providing urban restaurants with a steady supply of fresh vegetables and greens, the fact that its products are available year round is proving to be quite appealing to chefs looking for an edge.