Healthier choices come in small steps at low-priced foodservice outlets, where a product’s signature taste could take years to develop. Tinker with taste—even for sound nutritional reasons and good-for-you benefits—and risk losing the traffic they’ve worked so hard to build. That’s why it was news when KFC switched to soybean oil to eliminate trans fats from its chicken in 2006 and splashed the news on its window signs, and when Long John Silver’s, its sister Yum Brands division, began to roll out Freshside Grille, its first menu of non-fried fish, in October. The new offerings include Pacific salmon, shrimp scampi and vegetables. Similarly, ChickFilA has figured out how to free its waffle fries and breakfast biscuits of trans fats—and join the feeder’s iconic chicken sandwiches, nuggets and strips in that respect.
Nov 03, 2008 Read More
The focus during these last few days of the Presidential campaign has rightly been on the economy, taxes, and energy, and all three impact the topic so vital to our own physical health and well-being: food. That includes how and where food is grown both at home and imported from abroad; the cost of fuel to transport those foods shipped from farm to plant to grocer; energy choices and possible tax credits for the farmer; inspections and safety; availability of food stamps; government pricing, and other issues. While neither candidate, nor his party, has made an issue of contaminated foods, Barack Obama did discuss the need to better regulate the factory farms contributing to outbreaks of E. coli-tainted beef. ON WORLD WIDE & LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION Neither candidate completely tackles such issues as globilization of food production, world wide hunger and/or food crisis, or how their economic policies would address the current state of rising food prices for the end-use consumer, the crunching credit morass and the farmer, or the shortening of the food supply chain here at home (limiting time and distance between farmer and consumer.) Although shop-local themes, encouragement of consumers to patronize local farmers markets, and other slow food issues are gaining in popularity across the country, neither candidate has included any of these issues in their remarks in any noticeable way.
Oct 31, 2008 Read More
If food purchasing was a TV show when oil hit $147 per barrel, The Fear Factor would have been an appropriate title. How high would prices rise? Could you feed all your kids, or would you have to go hungry so they could eat? Could you buy napkins too, or simply wipe your face with your left arm? What the heck, you’re eating at home anyway. Pretty gritty. Now that oil has plummeted to the $60 per barrel range, with some experts estimating the true cost to pump it from the ground is only around $20 (more room to fall, is their position), the TV show might be called Show Me The Money, as in savings. The show’s premise: how long will it take before CPG manufacturers and retailers lower their prices since their own transportation costs (the reason for the price surges of the past year) have fallen. Will they try to hoard their gains? Will they face backlash from trading partners and consumers? How loudly will the public demand price drops? Right now in real life, there’s lots of finger pointing. Chains at manufacturers. Manufacturers at their suppliers. Consumers at both.
Oct 31, 2008 Read More
Do overweight kids have two strikes against them--courtesy of their parents-- before they grow into adults? Could be, judging from two recent research studies that identify parental errors in establishing their sons’ and daughters’ relationships with food. Mistake one is the classic, “Finish all of your food that’s on your plate,” regardless of a child’s appetite at the time. This correlates closely with portion control—how much food to put on a plate—which was studied recently by Jennie Fisher, an associate professor of public health, and a research team at Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education, as reported by the Washington Post. In their study, 61 children ages 5 and 6 could help themselves to pasta, sometimes using teaspoons or tablespoons, or large or small serving vessels. Subjects took 60% more food when offered in larger vessels that held double the amount of food, perhaps thinking an adult figured that more was appropriate for their age and size. Children who took more ate more.
Oct 30, 2008 Read More
There is little doubt that today’s consumers are more confused by on package health claims than ever before. In an unprecedented “smart” move, several of America’s leading food brands have agreed that the time has come to help consumers – and end the confusion. “Smart Choices” is a new labeling system that was developed under the guidance of the non-profit group, The Keystone Center. Over the past few years, hundreds of proprietary “healthy” graphics have popped up on the packages on our supermarket shelves – the problem has been that too often companies have followed their own path – and agenda – in creating graphics that have been inconsistent, confusing, and as a result have become ignored by many shoppers.But that is about to change...
Oct 27, 2008 Read More
Might food manufacturers and retailers be more differentiating if they understood what consumers think and feel when they eat foods bought from their displays? They certainly know plenty about their shopping and buying habits, but how much more in sync could they be if they “feel the consumption experience” and somehow develop ways to enhance consumer satisfaction? These insights could one day be enormous for the trade, and if they emerge they’ll be a possible byproduct of academic studies undertaken to capture the brain activity that occurs when people eat.
Oct 27, 2008 Read More
After decades of diet frustrations, supermodel worship, and cheerful yet annoying phrases like “thin is in,” dieters across the U.S. are recalibrating their personal weight targets. These new individual goals are based on the weights dieters associate with feeling good and healthy—rather than Body Mass Index or a narrow range of weights thought to be ideal for their frames. Since dieters see these goals as attainable, they’re motivated to initiate diets. This is a different mindset than in the past. “People appear to be taking a new and different approach because they’ve not been satisfied with past diet attempts, and they understood the importance of being at a healthy weight,” stated a new NPD Group report, Weighing in on the American Diet: A Report on the Health and Weight Management Habits of Americans, done for the Milk Processor Education Program, the group behind the “Why Milk” campaign.
Oct 27, 2008 Read More
Food as a romance enhancer goes back the length of time. (“You like your raptor roast rare, dear?” Or in the Roman era, “a goblet of mulsum with your porca, honey?”) But tagging men as proficient and happy in the home kitchen—beyond the barbecue—is a distinctly 2008 development, with a recession wrinkle thrown in for good measure. Never mind chefs Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsay and Bobby Flay for the moment; they’re great in the kitchen, but that’s their profession. A new study by Experian’s Future Foundation done for PurAsia tells much about men who cook, food culture, family and society—a very different view. One of its findings: 23% of 18-34 year-old men say they cook to impress or potentially seduce a partner, as opposed to 11% of women in the same age range. “The ability to cook will only make a man look more sophisticated, more modern and more aware of what’s going on today,” said Dan Davies, deputy editor, Esquire magazine, who is quoted in the report.
Oct 24, 2008 Read More