Posts in Healthier habits

Nation’s Restaurant Chains Stumble Onto Goldmine

May 15th, 2018 Posted by brand marketing, Culinary inspiration, Digital ordering, Food service, Healthier habits, Healthy lifestyle, Healthy Living, Navigation, Restaurant trends, Retail brand building 0 comments on “Nation’s Restaurant Chains Stumble Onto Goldmine”

Can regulation make it rain?

On Monday, May 7 Federal regulations went into effect requiring any foodservice retail business with 20 or more locations to begin posting nutritional details for food and beverage items on their menus. For most foodservice operators this means a revamp of menu descriptions and the addition of nutrition data sections at their web site and point of order. Typically this features spreadsheet-type lists spraying a blurry, eye chart-worthy inventory of calorie, fat, sugar, cholesterol and sodium stats.

But hidden within the clarion call for more what-you’re-eating disclosure is a potential restaurant business goldmine. At stake is an important regulatory-inspired opportunity for change. Important given foodservice businesses already face increased dining dollar competition from the significant resurgence of home cooked meal popularity. Yes, a home kitchen renaissance is underway, spurred by pervasive consumer interest in healthier foods and a desire to exercise more control over meal preparations, portions, costs and ingredients choices.

  • Studies show consumers believe dining out means agreement to compromise on their healthy eating interests while they navigate a trip down the boulevard of indulgence. A recent report by food industry trends watcher The Hartman Group, revealed consumers increasingly blame restaurants for a stunningly short list of healthier choices and absence of transparency around food – thus why they feel obligated to stow their healthy lifestyle interests at the vestibule of their favorite restaurant.

According to Hartman’s work, when the majority of consumers who already claim eating out is less healthy answer why this is true for them, the top scoring reason ̶ at 41 percent of those surveyed ̶ was a focus on ‘other things’ rather than health and wellness. But maybe it doesn’t have to be this way.

If prevailing food culture shifts point to home-cooked meals as the best and healthiest option for the vast majority of consumers, where does that leave restaurants on the better-for-you lifestyle bandwagon?

Could regulation make it rain?

The regulatory requirements may have issued a super-sized opportunity to reframe the restaurant menu story around a greater variety of healthier menu options. Then advanced with new technology that allows patrons to configure their own more informed, personalized menu choices ahead of arrival or on site with mobile friendly apps.

Reformulation through culinary innovation

But first, is the product itself. Restaurant meals can be made healthier without sacrificing taste by applying some of the more enlightened thinking now fueling the growth of new, emerging packaged food brands that are mounting a supermarket shelf takedown. Novel ingredients, cooking techniques, new forms of sweetening using natural sugars or sauces made with vegetable broths; meat alternatives formulated from nuts or pea protein – a cornucopia of new innovation is circling the food industry with an offer of improved nutritionals while delivering the indulgent flavors and textures of chef-inspired food.

There’s simply no longer any reason why menu items can’t be made healthier while retaining taste. It may add cost per serving but then we’ve also have seen repeatedly seen that consumers are willing to pay more for healthier fare if it can be verified as such – assuming taste is not sacrificed on the alter of improved nutrition numbers.

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) and MyMenu Tech

San Diego-based digital foodservice player HealthyDiningFinder.com, originally stepped into the restaurant marketplace to curate a search-able database of restaurants offering healthy menu items. More recently, they’ve rolled out their new MyMenu platform at CPK and Mexican cuisine specialist Rubio’s Coastal Grill, an algorithm driven business that offers restaurants a plug-and-play solution to their regulatory obligations, but served in a more user-friendly experience. It also brings a compelling add-on benefit: personal menu customization.

California Pizza Kitchen’s MyMenu pages open the door to new reasons to visit: With a few short clicks using a sliding bar selection tool on desired nutritional limits, the platform automatically sorts menu choices according to these preferences while calling up attractive photos and detailed descriptions of each dish or beverage. It reveals what’s in them and what they impart in terms of nutrition impact (calories, fat, sugar, etc.).

The Rubio’s MyMenu page also offers a pre-set list of menu alternatives created by Healthy Dining’s dietitian experts around lifestyle preferences such as Energy, Fit Lifestyle and Weight Control. Each choice rolls up special menus based on these specific interests.

The tool’s flexibility creates the option to customize a dish with ingredient swap-outs or to build a full meal while each dish and drink selection repopulates the overall impact on nutrition outcomes, so you know immediately how many calories and fat grams are involved.

  • In a soon-to-arrive platform enhancement, Healthy Dining says guests will be able to save selections for future use, and there will be options for purchase on-site, for pick-up or delivery. Then patrons will be able to build and retain their own personal menu for a variety of their favorite eateries using the tool  ̶  all based on individual dietary preferences and healthy dining interests.

Of course, the key here is to actually have healthier choices available, and in doing so, solve the dilemma of perceived nutritional sacrifice that restaurant eating might entail. The goldmine is simple: remove the friction from healthier choice at out-of-home eating by offering more healthy choices.

Then look to software platforms like MyMenu to allow patrons to examine, sort and retain their healthy meal preferences ̶ and with it creating an opportunity to forge foodservice brand preference.

For those restaurants that get this right, it could be an equally compelling do-it-for-me dining offer that rivals the siren song of home cooked healthier meals.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

 

 

ZUPA NOMA soups

Healthy Disruption: ZÜPA NOMA Spells the Future of Food

July 25th, 2017 Posted by brand marketing, Food Trend, Healthier habits, Healthy Living, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Healthy Disruption: ZÜPA NOMA Spells the Future of Food”

Food culture shifts now redefine the business landscape

What is soup? For decades, its iconic reference standard in the packaged food aisle was a red and white can that required added water for preparation. Hearty to be sure, a bit salty, and yes, those mushy veg, pasta and protein chunks. For years these cans held absolute reign in the soup category. Campbell’s was the Kleenex of soup. Weather predictably determined volume movement at retail. Colder days meant more can velocity. That’s all you really needed to know about the soup business.

Then the world changed. Reinvention is occurring at a pace never before imagined as new companies with an eye on what matters to evolving consumers, create new products that have healthy and higher quality embedded in their DNA.

The heat index on soup has gone cold – as in cold, drinkable soup that operates as a hand-held injection of goodness now ‘coursing’ through all dayparts from breakfast energy boost to heartier snack solution to dinner accompaniment. And in doing so, tearing up the notions of what soup is – while daringly extending its value proposition far beyond lunch staple.

So what is the future of food? Look right inside the bottle of ZÜPA NOMA, where you’ll find an array of certified organic vegetables puréed with other well-known symbols of healthy like turmeric, spirulina, lemongrass and apple cider vinegar. Their proposition: From Farm to Bottle. Unique culinary-inspired flavors like Beet Orange Basil that hit hard on nutritious portability.

We interviewed ZÜPA NOMA’s knowledgeable, erudite VP of Marketing, Jen Berliner on their company’s place in the shifting food landscape. This is how the new world order in food foretells the food world’s future.

Jen Berliner

Jen Berliner, VP of Marketing, ZÜPA NOMA

Emergent: We’re seeing significant shifts in consumer preference from highly- processed products to fresher versions such as ZÜPA, what’s driving these changes?

Jen: Everybody knows generally about ‘eat your vegetables’. But now there’s more awareness of fiber benefits, healthy fats, as well as concerns like presence of gluten or GMOs. People are taking their health into their own hands. And they are looking for food options with a mission. Consumers are simply more aware. The Internet and social media supplies a big pipeline of information about concerns like added sugars in food. So people are asking how can I make changes?

Emergent: Health and wellness is an overarching lifestyle consideration for many consumers, how does this impact your business strategies?

Jen: The ZÜPA NOMA brand exists in support of healthier lives. We offer blended organic vegetables in a more convenient and accessible form. People live busy lifestyles and don’t have time to chop, peel and puree vegetables into a drinkable soup.

We are creating a lifestyle-friendly solution. Our goal is to become a part of people’s daily routine. And our e-commerce platform allows people anywhere to get our products. We’re relatively new on the scene, but we’re seeing an amazing response. I know of consultants on the road who order our products for delivery to their hotel rooms.

Emergent: Big food brands provide a significant source of promotion spending to retailers, how do you answer the question buyers consider about how to help move your product from cold case to cart?

Jen: There’s no question big food companies have advantages due to their size and depth of resources. But I would say retailers also recognize being on trend with consumer preferences matters. We think the path to growth is through true partnerships with retailers where we work together to optimize facings, pricing and education at the store level. I would also say for us, selecting the right retail partners is important; those that are aligned with us and see this [ZÜPA] as a good strategic fit. We work together to bring the right level of education to the store, and invest in field marketing. And especially sampling: it’s when you see those eyes light up after a consumer tastes our product. That’s a real ‘aha’ moment.

Emergent: Food industry studies show transparency and visibility to the supply chain are now part of food purchase considerations, especially for millennial consumers, how are you addressing this interest?

Jen: Transparency is important to us, so we do everything we can on our website to share information on our certified organic ingredient sources and how we make our products. We think that education is important to our growth so we’re doing everything we can to tell our story. We have a robust customer service team for a company of our size, and work to be available to customers to answer their questions one-on-one.

“Just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s healthy”

ZÜPA NOMA competes in the cold case with other HPP-made cold-pressed juice products. While there’s a shared claim of nutrient density and higher quality organic ingredients, Berliner observes that the nutrition delivery story needs a closer look. ZÜPA NOMA offers a drinkable way to get your organic veggies that comes with all the fiber and vitamins by pureeing the entire ingredient, skin and seeds included. “What it doesn’t come with is all the sugar grams you’ll find in some of these juice products,” she said.

Emergent: What’s the future of packaged food business look like to you?

Jen: There is an overarching drive to clean labels, simple ingredients that people understand. It’s forcing evolutionary changes in the food industry. Legacy businesses are trying to adapt and change.

(However) the speed to market and to innovation has increased dramatically. Smaller companies like ours can move faster and can be more nimble in answering consumer food needs and interests.

Perhaps most notable is the rapid pace of change. Innovation is occurring at break-neck speed with development cycles moving from years to months. Innovations like ZÜPA NOMA are arriving on the scene almost daily as new solutions create new categories that are often married to the symbolism consumers now look for:

  • Higher quality
  • Sustainably sourced ingredients
  • Culinary-inspired recipes and adventurous flavor profiles
  • The certification check boxing like Whole30, Paleo, Non-GMO and Gluten-Free
  • Along with a higher purpose and mission that extends benefits to the environment and a reimagined future of the food system

Perhaps the most important piece of guidance in here is the underlying synergy between these new food brands and food culture changes. Not every new idea will succeed. Some will remain distant bit-part players while others will become the new mega-stars of the food industry firmament. The difference between grand slams and base hits will be in how their respective value propositions are addressed, and how close each comes to solving real consumer desires – and tasting great while doing it.

We think Berliner and her team at ZÜPA NOMA are likely to be winners in this new game given their relevance and responsiveness to: the coalescing of real healthy solution; portability in a world that loves this attribute; multiple occasion usefulness; and culinary-friendly recipes and unique flavor profiles.

Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

mobile grocery order

The Real-Food Uprising

June 6th, 2017 Posted by food experiences, Food Trend, Healthier habits, Healthy Living, shopper behavior, shopper experience, Uncategorized 0 comments on “The Real-Food Uprising”

Re-making the food and beverage business landscape

The single most important and disruptive change in food culture, now winding its way through virtually every part of the industry, is the overwhelming desire for fresh foods.

Call it the quest for all-things real. Fresh is defined as unprocessed, simple ingredients and often refrigerated. Fresh also conveys to consumers higher perceived quality, better taste and healthier. And so the packaged food world finds itself facing a state of transition as fresh versions overtake and replace their processed cousins.

consumers values impacting the food landscape

A.T. Kearney/Hartman Group study “Is Big Food in Trouble?” tracks growth of fresh trend as the dominant shift in consumer preference.

Why are meal kit solutions taking off so rapidly? Because they fit with fresh – offering real food ingredients already portioned and curated for menu creation. The meal kit is a form of convenience and taste adventure that connects to the consumer’s desire for experimentation. Thus, meal kits sit squarely on cultural relevance driving the fresher, higher-quality ingredients business.

Fresh fuels grocerants and more interesting prepared foods

The emerging fast casual restaurant sector is symptomatic of the fresh revolution and move beyond fast, cheap and common foods that have dominated the QSR category for decades. Fast casual’s emphasis on open production, customizable, made-to-order foods using fresh ingredients is relevant and in sync with consumers’ interests for higher-quality, healthier food experiences.

Grocerant strategies: all of this should instigate change at food retail to elevate Deli menus, think creatively about prepared foods sold for take-out, and improve in-store dining experiences.

Fresh food implications for retailers –

1. Investment in culinary-trained commissary staff and fine dining experienced chefs in leadership positions (Chief Culinary Officer).

2. Open kitchens and preparation spaces to show ingredients and allow for customizing menu items.

3. Reworking Deli menus to add more creative, global influences to prepared food options, beyond the comfort staples like meatloaf and rotisserie chicken.

4. Creating improved in-store signage and merchandising that will alert shoppers to fresh, in-season, locally sourced products.

5. Building content and storytelling around locally-sourced ingredients, farmer profiles, as well as tangible investments in local agriculture.

6. Cooking classes to inspire improvements in culinary skills and adoption of chef techniques for the home kitchen.

7. Better designs and environment for dine-in spaces inside food retail.

E-commerce traction and influence on fresh

There are those who simply love and enjoy food shopping – call it a sort of culinary catharsis – and want to visually experience the fresh options arrayed in front of them. Shopping at the store is, for some people, a type of food religion observed with regularity. For others, convenience must address the demands of busy lifestyle where online ordering is a valued (even required) option.

Mobile-based ordering platforms – in web and app form – are not peripheral but rather integral to the food retail eco-system. We believe e-commerce will be a factor in fresh product sales. Increasingly, consumers are getting used to the process as orders continue to meet and exceed their quality and freshness expectations.

Where the e-commerce play becomes a real exciting opportunity is when local sourcing can be woven together with digital ordering and delivery – such that time between farm and dinner table is shortened considerably.

As digital sophistication increases, another game changer would be the ability to solve and resolve last-minute ingredient or recipe needs (where rapid ordering and delivery is required).

Fresh and healthier

There is no other consideration more relevant, important and powerful than the groundswell towards healthier lifestyle. While healthy food was at one time attached to diet products, the meaning has changed considerably.

Foods made from simple and less-processed ingredients continue to gain traction, while better-for-you snacks are encroaching on more indulgent rivals.

Insight: we are moving from a production-fueled system to a demand-driven system, founded on the consumer’s interest in real foods and a parallel desire to know more about ingredients, sourcing, transparency, and sustainability.

For strategic planning purposes, food retail and food brands should look hard at the following consumer cues for guidance to what matters on the demand side:

  • Fresh, real
  • Health
  • Higher quality
  • Discovery and experimentation
  • Kitchen creativity
  • Indulgent reward

How brands and retailers respond now will have great bearing on their relevance and success later on.

Emergent’s strategic planning capabilities are designed around this agenda: marry insight to optimizing growth strategies and translating this work to more effective communication.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

yogurt protein bowl

Votes Are In: Americans Now Snack With Purpose

November 8th, 2016 Posted by Healthier habits, Healthy Living, shopper behavior 0 comments on “Votes Are In: Americans Now Snack With Purpose”

Health and culinary culture influences choices

Once upon a time snacking might have been a bag of chips, tub cheese and crackers, or a box of raisins – and consumed primarily in between formal meals.

Snack occasion growth has accelerated to a point where it is no longer a unique event and changed into a form of continuous eating behavior – mostly hand-held mini-meals. Driving this development is a shift from scheduling around meal periods to eating around schedules.

A recent study of Millennial preferences from the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA), pegged the importance of meal portability, finding:

  • 6 percent of Millennials do not have a set schedule for meals
  • 3 percent eat on the run, and
  • 7 percent work and eat at the same time

Separately, a February 2016 report from The Hartman Group stated, “Snacks can be anywhere and anything, and are playing an increasingly diverse role in people’s food lives and food culture.”

That same report confirmed 80 percent of all snacking is ‘purposeful’ – answering specific desires for physical fuel ups, emotional comfort, flavor experimentation and helping enable social connections.

It should be noted, there’s an ‘influence’ factor at work here: health and nutrition experts weigh in to observe that eating smaller meals more often is just better for your health generally.

Snack Diversity is Building

Meantime the nation’s palate has also shifted to preference for higher quality food experiences. We’ve characterized this in previous posts as the “Foodie-ization of America.” It seems only logical that snacking would elevate alongside these changes, whether it is to healthier choices or epicurean adventures.

  1. The cheese industry has taken notice of this change in snacking behavior. Our client, Schuman Cheese, continues expansion of its unique and flavor-dense Cello® Whisps – a line of clean-ingredient, savory Parmesan crisp snacks. Sargento enhances the dairy aisle with combinations of dried fruit, nuts and cheeses in the new and price friendly Balanced Breaks line.
  1. New entries permeate the chip category. Way Better® Snacks pioneers an evolution in bagged options, made with better-for-you sprouted grains. While Beanitos® creates a flavor-diverse line of chips derived from GMO-free beans.
  1. A dizzying array of new protein players like EPIC®, KRAVE® and New Primal are accelerating growth of paleo-friendly meat bars and jerky products – with exotic flavor combinations (while eliminating of some of the egregious preservative ingredients).
  1. Yogurt continues its meteoric rise as multi-benefit snack option, meal replacement, recipe ingredient, protein source and pro-biotic solution. Noosa® caters to the indulgent segment, while new players like Blue Hill offer savory versions, Fage® Crossovers with chef-inspired flavors and nut pairings, and Chobani® continues to steamroll through virtually every sector.

Culinary Inspiration – Hillshire®

A leading indicator of the interest in higher quality choices is Hillshire Snacking’s new self-characterized “Fancy Snacking” Small Plates line of cheese, meats, crisps, nuts and dried fruits.

Interesting taste combinations like Tuscan Flair and Latin Fiesta are presented in portioned trays that allow the consumer to customize amounts of each item for the perfect bite. The product rolls up convenience, portion control, elevated quality and unique pairings into one experience.

We predict this could be a home run for Hillshire as it is on point with food culture changes now driving growth categories in food and beverage.

Where is retail strategy in the snack juggernaut?

We continue to believe snacking is such a significant and important behavior, representing an expanding arena for innovation, that it deserves more consideration at retail as a specific shopping destination – beyond the existing chip aisle.

Why not make the shopping experience more of an adventure while acknowledging that snack is no longer a confined occasion, by creating centers at retail where various forms and types can be merchandised collectively. Doing this takes friction out of the shopping experience and, we believe, will help increase sales in this accelerating business.

Guidance: the PLMA report also revealed the importance of healthier choice to Millennials stating 78.7 percent are interested in healthy options, 77.9 percent care about the nutritional value of food, and 73.9 percent read nutrition labels.

Snacking behavior is a cultural condition that will continue to attract new solutions and innovation in our increasingly mobile, portable lifestyles.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

Snacking at Work

Snack-ization Trend Disrupts Food Business

February 23rd, 2016 Posted by food experiences, Food Trend, Healthier habits, Insight, retail brand relevance, shopper experience, Supermarket strategy, Uncategorized 0 comments on “Snack-ization Trend Disrupts Food Business”

Clarion call for new snack destination at food retail.

Once upon time, there were three regular meals in American households. Snacks were an occasion that generally landed before and/or after dinner. Our mealtime rituals brought structure to the day: a defined beginning, an ending and some transitions in between.

(more…)

2016 FMI Midwinter Conference

Shopper Trends Revealed at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference

February 1st, 2016 Posted by brand marketing, food experiences, Food Trend, Healthier habits, Insight, retail brand relevance, shopper behavior, shopper experience, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Shopper Trends Revealed at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference”

Emergent participates in panel with food industry luminaries.

On Monday morning, January 25th, in front of top supermarket and CPG industry executives, a panel discussion moderated by Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) Senior Vice President Mark Baum, took a look at the future trends and issues that will impact shopper behavior – and the future of the food business. (more…)

Archives

Categories