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Lean, Organic, Natural and Grass Fed: a Cut Above

Friday, 29 April 2011 08:13

food2_may11Premium and natural descriptors resonate with consumers of beef and pork menu items, finds Technomic.

Nearly two out of three consumers recently surveyed by Chicago-based trend-tracker Technomic say they think beef and pork products labeled or menued with premium descriptors such as “grass-fed,” “lean,” “organic” or “natural” will taste better than other beef and pork products that do not carry these same labels. Terms describing premium types and cuts of meat had a strong influence on perception of flavor and price thresholds, while terms describing natural farming and preparation were likely to influence consumers’ perception of healthfulness.

In a Struggling Industry, Fast Casual Casts a Shining Light

Friday, 29 April 2011 08:10

food1_may11Leading fast-casual restaurant chains not only weathered the economic storm, they prospered, reports NPD.

Visits to the leading fast-casual restaurant chains grew 17% over the last three years while the rest of the industry experienced its steepest traffic declines in decades, and consumer demand for fast-casual offerings exceeded the unit growth of leading fast-casual chains, according to foodservice market research by Port Washington, N.Y.-based The NPD Group, a leading market-research company.

A Peach of a Win

Wednesday, 30 March 2011 20:41

By Brent T. Frei

food4_april11The fifth-annual Student Culinology® Competition at RCA’s 2011 conference exemplified the blending of culinary art and food science.

The student team from Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) took first-place honors, along with a $5,000 cash award and industry-wide recognition as rising stars in food-product development, at the fifth-annual Student Culinology® Competition, March 3 during the Research Chefs Association’s (RCA) Annual Conference & Culinology® Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The award was presented at the 2011 RCA Annual Luncheon on March 5.

Each of the finalist teams representing six universities throughout North America shipped in advance a frozen Southern dessert concept featuring peaches, suitable for a family-style chain restaurant. On the day of competition, teams prepared their fresh, “gold standard” item, and in a Culinology® match test, competition judges compared each team’s plated, commercialized dessert to its corresponding freshly prepared dessert against such criteria as ingredient composition/authenticity, flavor/aroma, texture, presentation, professionalism, technical skills, safety and sanitation and overall similarity to the gold standard.

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Wednesday, 30 March 2011 20:39

food3_april11Technomic finds customization, complexity and portions driving frozen-dessert restaurant purchases.

A love affair with ice cream is perhaps just as American as that most iconic of desserts, apple pie—or even more so given the frequency with which we indulge in the creamy treat. More than half of consumers in a recent survey by trend-tracker Technomic said they eat vanilla ice cream at least once a month, and 46% said the same of chocolate.

While vanilla and chocolate dominate the ice -cream category, there are a multitude of milkshakes, sundaes, frozen yogurts, sorbets, gelatos and even tofu-based non-dairy dessert flavors that each has a special place in the hearts of consumers.

According to Mary Chapman, director at Technomic, there are several key factors when it comes to frozen desserts on restaurant menus. “Complexity, customization and portions are all very important. Operators need to differentiate their items from those offered by retailers, and they need to make the offerings available in various sizes to attract diners who are concerned with health, value, or who are simply too full to eat a large dessert.”

Rise, Shine and Eat Healthy

Wednesday, 30 March 2011 20:36

food2_april11Healthier breakfast items are the order of the day as breakfast sales at restaurants rebound.

The most important meal of the day has been a challenge for restaurants over the past few years, faced with economic uncertainty and reduced consumer spend. In order to lure back customers to an already over-crowded breakfast marketplace, restaurant operators will need to give consumers what they want—and according to latest research from Mintel, that’s a healthy breakfast, as 66% of restaurant-goers say they are interested in healthier breakfast options.

Promisingly, Mintel’s research shows breakfast sales are expected to rebound in 2011, resulting in 4.1% growth, and the healthy-eating message is echoed by the 39% of restaurant diners who say breakfast options at their local eateries are too unhealthy. Regardless of the day of the week, two-fifths of consumers who eat breakfast out (39% on weekdays and 40% on weekends) say healthy breakfast options are the most important factor when selecting a breakfast spot.

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