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Trends on Display at 2023 National Restaurant Association Show
(62%) of foodservice operators are currently understaffed, according to the National
Restaurant Association's State of the Restaurant Industry Report, 2023.
operators gathered in Chicago for the 2023 National Restaurant Association
Show recently to see the latest in food & beverages and technologies
for the restaurant industry. With labor shortages a key issue among restaurant
owners, exhibitors focused on solutions designed to help operators with
attracting and retaining workers. An abundance of time-saving, fully cooked
foods, robots, and POS systems were on display in Chicago.
cooked meats and vegetables in the kitchen not only reduces food preparation
time and improves consistency but allows restaurant owners to hire workers with
Foods Inc. showcased
its new Hillshire Farm Carved Pork Belly as an elevated and versatile
ingredient that can work in many dishes. The product won the National
Restaurant Association's Food and Beverage (FABI) Award. Tyson Foods stated
that the ready to serve product can work for multiple dayparts and cuisines
such as tacos and a Thai-style red curry pizza that was served at the 2023
National Restaurant Association Show.
Delight | Kronos
introduced a new Coconut Curry Chicken flavor to its ReadyCarved line of
global proteins. Like the other ReadyCarved whole-muscle varieties including
Chicken Shawarma and Pork Al Pastor, these fully cooked, pre-seasoned, and
pre-sliced products allow restaurants to offer authentic ethnic flavors to
diners without requiring preparation time. Roland Foods, LLC displayed
time-saving products such as Roland Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, which are
sliced and ready-to-use.
bartender that can chat with customers and mix cocktails was the highlight of
the 2023 National Restaurant Association Show.
Cecilia.ai from GKI Group is the world's
first interactive robotic bartender according to the company. Cecilia is a 3D
avatar powered by conversational AI (artificial intelligence) and voice
recognition abilities that can make conversation while mixing about 120
cocktails and mocktails per hour (without engaging in conversations).
conversational AI, Cecilia can guide customers through the menu and tell jokes
while making customized cocktails on demand.
Atosa USA, Inc. showcased its Intelligent French Fry Robotic Solution
that won the National Restaurant Association's 2023 Kitchen Innovations Award.
Robot servers that bring trays of food to diners' tables can free up employees
to interact with customers while reducing the physical burden of carrying heavy
plates back-and-forth. Bear Robotics, Inc. highlighted its robots'
ability to provide greater efficiency and guest experiences. Its Servi+
hospitality robot offers increased capacity (16+ dishes or 4 standard bus
tubs), and expanded 88-pound payload.
AUTEC also displayed a sushi-making robot;
the ASM865A Maki Maker can produce up to 1300 rice sheets per hour for
sushi rolls and burritos. Akiko Yamaguchi, marketing director for AUTEC,
told The Food Institute that its sushi robots are especially popular in
the college and university setting where student workers frequently turn over.
Systems on Display
(point-of-sale) systems are evolving into business operating systems according
to Bryan Solar, chief product officer, at SpotOn.
While 80% of
the market is still on legacy POS systems, restaurant operators are moving
towards cloud-based POS systems as they learn how using technology can protect
their profits through an understanding of costs, Solar told The Food Institute.
More than 40% of foodservice operators are reportedly planning to invest in
technology or equipment to increase productivity, the NRA said.
SpotOn Handheld device helps servers turn tables faster through quicker bill
presentation and payment, while the SpotOn Reserve restaurant reservation
system helps hosts seat guests faster by providing table information with flags
that show statuses like drinks, main course, or check paid. In the back-of-the
house, restaurants are using kitchen display systems – a large screen in the
kitchen that displays ticket orders in real-time – to track, route, and
prioritize orders to improve accuracy. Food
Plant-Based Attains Popularity with Gen Z
eye-opening 81% of college students will choose a plant-based food offering
when it's the default option, according to a recent study led by foodservice
Gen Zers are more interested in plant-based options than previous generations.
"A lot of
college-aged individuals are much more aware of not only the health benefits of
plant-based eating, but of its impact on the impending climate crisis," said
Matthew Kenney, CEO of Matthew Kenney Cuisine and co-founder of Ntidote.
"Educational content and information about climate change has never been as
ubiquitous as it is now, and that evokes a reaction from the younger generation
due to the sheer urgency of it."
this, what can food manufacturers do to capitalize? Let's break down the study
and see what experts had to say:
which was led by Sodexo, along with the Food for Climate League, and Better
Food Foundation, observed dining halls at three universities. The study
noted what would happen if plant-based dishes were presented as the default
option versus a meat option. Eight meals were offered in the dining halls,
which offered one vegan and one meat option.
were then presented in two different ways – plant default and control days. On plant
default days, only the vegan options were put out, but students had the option
to ask for the meat alternative. On control days, meat and plant-based options
were offered side-by-side.
findings: on plant-default days, 81% of students stuck with the vegan option –
which was an increase from the 31% of students who regularly chose the
plant-based option. The findings also showed that students were more likely to
express satisfaction with plant-based meals on days when it was the default
findings from the study, Sodexo concluded that using plant-based as a default
option can help create a positive attitude toward a vegan meal, and that
normalizing plant-based foods could make this option even more popular among
Gen Z-aged consumers.
confirms what we've seen repeatedly – that Gen Z students are not only open to
plant-centered dining...they feel good about eating in places that (feature)
plant-based meals," Jennifer Channin, the Better Food Foundation's
executive director, said in a press release.
findings give us hope that the plant-centered food system our world needs is
easier to achieve than we used to think."
Institute spoke with
a few experts who weighed in on what can be done to make plant-based options
more appealing to the masses.
Smithers, head chef
at plant-based food subscription service Grubby, told The Food
Institute that getting in front of school-aged consumers is key. Free
samples are a great example of this and it's also a great way to get feedback
from them, Smithers said.
opinion the best way to get students to choose plant-based food options is to
make them relatable," the chef added. "Design dishes and menus around recipes
that students are likely to be cooking in their student halls. There's no point
in trying to reinvent the wheel."
expert Kay Gowrinath said it's essential that companies like food
manufacturers look at the driving factors for college-aged students.
convenience and cost should be considered alongside ethical components,
including packaging choices and sustainability," Gowrinath, the managing
director of Xquisite Productions, said regarding plant-based products.
"A strong brand that's well-positioned and culturally inclusive will tend to do
well, especially if they're creative enough to connect with the customers in
real life and via the digital world in which they're immersed." Food Institute Focus
Shows Americans Have Become Adventurous Eaters
survey suggests there's pent-up demand to eat out — and to try new flavors — as
American consumers become more adventurous eaters.
of the survey's respondents (47%) said they're tired of cooking the same foods
at home. Findings also showed that the average American tries at least six new
recipes per month, reported talker.news.
research firm OnePoll surveyed 2,000 Americans and found that more than
half of them (53%) consider themselves adventurous eaters. Some 58% of
respondents reimagine food by adding different seasonings, while 52% indicated
they often use different base ingredients. Meanwhile, Americans expressed an
openness to trying international cuisine, with 42% saying they had tried
Vietnamese food, while 36% of respondents indicated they had tried Indian food,
cuisine is very on-trend right now," said Megan Wortman, executive director of
the American Lamb Board (the organization which commissioned the study).
generations are looking for bolder flavors and aren't afraid to try new things,"
Raji Sankar, co-founder of Choolaah Indian BBQ restaurants,
recently told The Food Institute. "Americans have become huge fans of
international cuisines like Asian, Italian, Mexican, and Vietnamese. ... Part of
it is how global our world is [now]; the Internet gives access to anything and
pandemic created an opportunity for restaurants offering bold international
cuisine, as many customers grew desperate for unique flavors not found in their
findings showed the average American would travel nearly a half hour to eat
their favorite food. Finally, the poll also revealed the top factors that
inspire consumers to try a new cuisine, including:
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Express is getting
academic. The University of Pennsylvania's Asian American Studies
Program is now accepting applications for the Panda Express Postdoctoral
Fellowship. The California-based fast-food chain will endow a $65,000
fellowship for one year "plus applicable benefits and an allocation for
research expenses" as students teach, plan, and grow within UPenn's Asian
American Studies program, reported The Takeout (May 22). Full Story
McDonald's and Chick-fil-A's apps are
using location data to time when they start cooking mobile orders. The apps
track when customers are near the restaurant to ensure orders are ready and hot
when customers arrive, reported Business Insider (May 29). Full Story
Call, a coffeehouse
chain, is set to expand following the acquisition of 13 locations of Black
Rock Coffee Bar in Washington state. The locations will now be converted
into Wake Up Call coffeehouses, reported Daily Coffee News (May 24). Full Story
Chipotle founder Steve Ells is
developing a new automated restaurant called Kernel. Expected to open in
New York City late this year, the robotic concept can reportedly be operated
with as few as three employees, reported Restaurant Business (May 25). Full Story
Panera guests can now pick up digital orders
at the drive-thru. As many chains struggle to find the right drive-thru
balance, Panera says about 50% of its sales are now digital – more than 3
million transactions per week – prompting the move, reported Restaurant
Business (May 31). Full Story
IHOP has shuttered its fast-casual
spinoff, Flip'd. After two years and just four locations, the pancake chain
said it would apply lessons learned from its grab-and-go concept to other parts
of its business. The off-concept pilot reported 60% of its business was from
dine-in, and IHOP did not disclose many details regarding the closures,
reported Restaurant Business. Full Story
for Subway is expected to come to a head in about a month, with about a
half-dozen parties still vying for the sandwich chain, including private equity
firms Roark Capital Group and London-based TDR Capital. Subway is
expected to fetch more than $9 billion, after initially seeking more than $10
billion, reported Bloomberg (June 2). Full Story
Greek, a Northern
California-based chain, recently opened its 60th restaurant, in Visalia,
California. The Greek street food chain announced it plans to have 80 locations
by the end of the year. Full Story
Asian chain GEN Korean BBQ is planning an IPO. The 32-location concept
plans to raise $25 million, reported Restaurant Business (May 31). Full Story
distributor Ben E. Keith Foods has acquired Orrell's Food Service.
The acquisition includes all Orrell's Food Service, including the
106,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Linwood, North Carolina, as well as JEM
Foods, a meat processing plant also located in Linwood, reported Foodmarket.
Popeyes has added a blackened chicken option
to its coveted sandwich, the first new sandwich option since it debuted four
years ago. Customers can also add bacon and Havarti cheese as well, reported CNBC
(June 6). Full Story
Pizza Hut has added Pickle Pizza to its menu,
claiming to be the first national quick-service pizza chain to serve it. The
chain said the new menu item was inspired by "the recent resurgence of
pickles," reported today.com (June 7). Full Story
Red Robin has sold nine locations for $29
million, in a sale-leaseback deal. The restaurant chain will use the proceeds
to repay debt and buy back stock. Full Story
Sweetgreen's CEO expects all restaurant units
will be automated within five years. Just one month after opening its automated
kitchen concept, Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman is "super pleased" with its
progress and expects all units to be automated by 2028, reported Restaurant
Business (June 7). Full Story
Taco Bell will test Vegan Crunchwraps with
plant-based beef and cheese in three cities after 25% of 2022 sales at Yum
Brands were vegetarian or vegan. Full Story
is considering a
wider range of store designs. The coffee chain is contemplating different
versions of its traditional drive-thru locations and pickup stores. But it may
also try delivery-only units, reported Restaurant Business (June 6). Full Story
further growth in Southeast Asia. The country recently opened outposts in
Singapore and Indonesia, reported Seafood Source (June 12). Full Story
BurgerFi has chosen Carl Bachmann to be
its next CEO. Bachmann had previously served as Smashburger's CEO,
reported Foodmarket. Full Story
SUPPLY CHAIN NEWS
Prices Expected to Stay High
A quick trip
to the grocery store's meat aisle confirms beef prices are at record highs as
packers scramble to find higher grade cattle. Though some beef prices fell
ahead of Memorial Day, prices are expected to stay elevated.
of head of cattle slaughtered was down 3.2% last week from 2022 levels, Drovers
reported (May 27). Both spot and futures prices are up.
optimistic for this year's feeder cattle market," DTN Livestock Analyst Shayle
Stewart wrote in Progressive Farmer (May 29), noting the first real
test of prices this summer comes soon with the early summer feeder calf
The rise in
prices is the result of drought and the downsizing cattlemen did during the
pandemic when it was difficult to get cattle to feedlots.
sales will be worth tuning into as their markets will establish a tone for
contracting calves and will begin to set a precedent for what feeder cattle
prices could be in 2023," Stewart wrote.
knows when the market's yearly top for feeder cattle prices will be rung, but
I'm under the impression that, if beef demand remains strong, and if drought
pressures can be eased (even slightly), feeder cattle prices during the second
half of the year could be a surprise as our industry is incredibly short on
drought in the southern plains has left cattlemen reeling, forcing them to buy
supplemental feed to make up for dry pastures.
August, up until three weeks ago when we got a couple of inches of rain, we've
had almost no moisture whatsoever," Johnny Owens, who owns yearlings
near Buffalo, Oklahoma, told Farm Progress (May 30). "It's too expensive
to feed all winter and this summer. Producers with cows have culled heavily and
will begin liquidating herds if a turnaround does not occur within the next 30
to 60 days."
beef consumption is down annually per capita, but the amount eaten in the
United States hit a high of 30 billion pounds in 2021, an 8.7% increase from
2020, Statista reported (Feb. 21).
Industry Sees Softest Sales Growth Since July 2022
saw year-over-year same-store sales and traffic growth fall for the third
consecutive month in April, according to Guest XM by Black Box Intelligence.
The industry experienced its softest sales growth since July 2022. Full Story
restaurants may be more bullish on summer spending than the consumers inside
them.Though many restaurants expect a spending boon, roughly 33% of
consumers plan to dine out less before July and about half expect to maintain
conservative spending habits, reported CNBC (May 29). Full Story
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