A model for slashing food waste
Minimizing food waste is not just good for the planet – it’s good business. In the U.S., food waste accounts for between 30 and 40 percent of the food supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s $161 billion worth of food based on 2010 figures. The two largest grocery trade groups in the U.S. just announced plans to clarify food labels, which will better identify waste for consumers – but note what’s already happening in Denmark, the European country leading the fight against food waste. The Huffington Post reports that many restaurants there, especially those with buffets, use an app called Too Good to Go. It tells its million-plus Danish and international users which restaurants have excess food. Users get an inexpensive meal from the restaurant’s buffet and the restaurant eliminates food waste. Supermarkets are also offering “stop food waste” bargains and an app called YourLocal helps consumers find the best offers.
Farm-to-table has made it to the bar
Food and Drink Resources reports that increasingly, restaurant bartenders are skipping the bottles of juice and relying on fresh, local produce to add flavor to cocktails – or saving that produce for later by freezing herbs in ice or pureeing fruits and vegetables and pouring them into ice cube trays. It’s not just about jazzing up alcohol, either. In a Flavor & the Menu report, a representative of NPD Group says on-premise, non-alcoholic beverage sales are down due to guests turning away from carbonated soft drinks in favor of options they perceive to be healthier, including fruit-flavored water and juices made with fresh fruit. There’s a big opportunity to expand sales by offering fruit-and-vegetable juice flights, pairings or cocktails.
Foreign-born workers important to industry growth
Foreign-born restaurant employees are critical to the industry’s ability to expand as the number of 16-to-24-year-olds in the labor force continues to shrink. That’s according to the National Restaurant Association’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey says restaurants employ nearly 2.3 million foreign-born workers, more than 8 percent of the foreign-born workers in the U.S workforce. More than 23 percent of those employed at restaurants are foreign-born, versus 19 percent for the overall economy. Foreign-born workers are also comparatively more likely to hold higher-paying jobs in the restaurant industry – 45 percent of restaurant chefs and 24 percent of restaurant managers are foreign-born. This means such employees will be increasingly important to the industry’s ability to create jobs in the future.
The fast casualization of fine dining
Fast fine, fast casual premium, fast casual 2.0…Whatever you want to call it, Mintel reports that a new kind of restaurant is emerging that offers high-quality meals, a full bar, a comprehensive menu and no wait staff. Mintel analysts say the trend may make operational sense for restaurants that
want to source fine ingredients while streamlining and automating the ordering process – and it could appeal to Millennials. Still, servers are often what make a fine dining experience memorable, and as one analyst says, “something is lost when a plastic buzzer tells you to pick up your food, no matter how fancy the dish is.” These restaurants are likely the next step for fast casuals but won’t replace fine dining.
What consumers want in prepared foods
Supermarkets are proving to be worthy competitors for restaurants that offer prepared foods. If your local market fits that mold or you sell prepared foods for take-away, ensure you’re providing what Datassential says consumers want from their local markets: 35 percent of consumers surveyed say they want unique or new items or flavors, 33 percent want healthier food options, 30 percent want healthier versions of foods they consider to be bad for them, and 27 percent want food items they can customize.
Service with a : )
Emojis are adept at getting a point across – and a growing number of restaurants are using them to engage guests in their menus. While Domino’s has been using emojis in online ordering for some time, Eater reports that full-service restaurants are now using emojis on more traditional food and drink menus, streamlining menu items down to pictures of ingredients. In doing so, they’ve simplified their menus while making them playful and memorable. At the Little Yellow Door in London, for example, a seared steak roll with truffle mayo, caramelized onions, and rocket is presented on the menu as a “cow face” “baguette" with "mushroom" "chestnut" "rocket ship." While emojis aren’t for every restaurant, they can bring fun and novelty to a restaurant while breaking down barriers between wait staff and guests.
Reduce the spread of foodborne pathogens in juice
Juicing is a great way to offer guests a boost in vitamins, minerals and enzymes – and potentially a concentrated dose of foodborne pathogens. Food Safety News recommends you ensure the bacteria on your produce doesn’t end up in the drink you serve by taking these steps: Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water pre- and post-preparation. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water and scrub firm produce like melons or cucumbers with a produce brush under running water before peeling it. Give greens a bath in a clean basin with cold water and a half cup of vinegar, soak for five to 10 minutes and rinse leaves well in a colander with cold water. Dry produce with a clean towel to further reduce any remaining bacteria present.
What temperature makes this food safe?
Could you pass a quiz asking you to confirm the temperature you need to cook various proteins to ensure their safety? To ensure fish and shellfish doesn’t contain foodborne pathogens, cook it to 145 degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If it’s a whole chicken or turkey you’re cooking, it’s finished when it registers 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast and the innermost part of the wing and thigh. Beef, pork, veal and lamb need to reach 145 degrees and rest for three minutes, whereas ground meats need to reach 160 degrees.
New tech to boost your traffic
Want to attract more guests – and turn them into loyal ones? Coffee shops and other quick-service establishments are beginning to offer wireless phone chargers to help guests repower their devices while they grab a bite to eat. QSR reports that these chargers are simply thin mats that are placed on the table or built into it. Guests place their phone in a special charging case that uses magnetic induction technology to charge the device. Right now, they’re just an added convenience but that could change (wifi was merely a convenience at one time – now guests expect it). Starbucks has begun a nationwide rollout of the wireless chargers.
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