Wednesday, September 30, 2020

McDonald's Expands Focus on Me to We Partnerships in 2021


Success does leave clues and industry leading companies understand that there is a increased unmet need that consumers are expressing when it comes to their everyday life and food, meals, and beverages.  That unmet need is being express in the form of more ‘sustainable’ food and beverage products that according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

In fact, according to NPD, consumers reported in July that 63% of their eating occasions during the COVID-19 outbreak have been atypical, meaning they’re eating and sourcing foods and beverages outside of their normal routines. That disruption has elevated consumers focus or ‘better for you’ sustainable food and beverage options according to Johnson.  

Around the world consumers are expressing greater sense of urgency around climate change and nature loss. In a new partnership, the Walmart Foundation, Cargill, and McDonald’s are investing over $6 million in an initiative led by World Wildlife Fund that aims to make lasting improvements to the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains.

This new program, known as the Ranch Systems and Viability Planning (RSVP) network, will support ranchers across the ecoregion—focusing primarily on Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota—with technical expertise, training and tools to help advance grazing practices that improve the health of the land. By improving management of one million acres over five years and avoiding conversion, this effort will result in increased carbon storage and sequestration, improved water infiltration and better outcomes for biodiversity.  

Kathleen McLaughlin, EVP and chief sustainability officer for Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation stated, “Collaborative efforts like this can accelerate innovative, sustainable solutions and support ranchers in the beef supply chain,” … “Sustainable grazing practices that improve soil health, absorb carbon and reduce water consumption can help to protect the land and people who depend on it.”

Regular reader of this blog know that Johnson has been highlighting food companies that are focused on elevating 2021 in food as the year the industry focuses on “from Me to We” movement in food. That is expanding the ‘halo’ of ‘better for you’ food offerings within every sector of retail food.

Th RSVP program supports the Walmart Foundation’s focus to bring more sustainable, regenerative practices to the beef industry. The Foundation aims to build connections that can accelerate systems change and form communities of practice with grantees and leaders to share learnings, advance best practices, foster collaboration and scale collective impact. Investing in conservation activities in the Northern Great Plains supports the stewards of those lands and contributes to climate resilience efforts.  


The press release announcing this partnership stated this “also supports McDonald’s ambition to use its scale and many relationships from the farm to the restaurant to help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and evolve the food system for a resilient and sustainable future. As the first restaurant company in the world to set an approved science-based target on climate action, McDonald’s is partnering across the supply chain to employ a diverse set of strategies, which scale-up action across the industry.”  

Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s EVP, Chief Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer stated, “I’m proud of McDonald’s investment in programs like the Ranch Systems and Viability Planning network. These partnerships bring producers, suppliers, NGOs and brands to the table to drive the widespread adoption of more sustainable and regenerative practices that reduce emissions, mitigate climate change and support livelihoods,”  “This innovative work is an important step toward scaling climate solutions across the supply chain, building resiliency and achieving McDonald’s science-based climate target to significantly reduce emissions across our offices, restaurants and supply chain by 2030.”   

Extending the ‘halo’ even further this project is also part of Cargill’s BeefUp Sustainability initiative, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the company’s beef supply chain by 30 percent by 2030, measured on a per pound of beef basis against a 2017 baseline. Earlier this year, Cargill launched two other programs to support this goal, including a grassland restoration effort and an initiative to implement proven soil health practices in cattle feed.   

Heather Tansey, sustainability lead for Cargill’s protein and animal nutrition and health businesses stated “We believe beef cattle can be a force for good, and one of the ways we can address some of our shared challenges by preserving wildlife and drawing down carbon, … “This initiative is a testament to that. I’m inspired by the efforts of ranchers who live this belief each day, and grateful for our partners who join us lending scale, resources and experience to advance realistic solutions that address climate change.”  

In the Battle for Share of Stomach

are you keeping up? 

The Northern Great Plains ecoregion, which comprises approximately 25 percent of the total area of the Great Plains of North America, remains largely intact, thanks in part to its harsh climate, which has made agricultural expansion relatively difficult until recent decades. In fact, the NGP still supports 1,595 species of plants, which provide habitat for 300 species of birds, 95 species of mammals and 28 species of reptiles. The Missouri and South Saskatchewan Rivers, in addition to smaller prairie streams, riparian, and wetlands habitats, provide habitat for 13 species of amphibians and 121 species of fish. The remaining healthy ecosystems within this region are maintained largely by hardworking ranching communities. Grasslands have evolved to be grazed, and cattle grazing, when managed well, can deliver many conservation benefits, including healthy grasslands, improved soil, and the preservation of key habitats.

What will you be doing in 2020 to drive the ‘halo’ of better for you around your brand? Success does leave clues. One clue that time and time again continues to resurface is “the consumer is dynamic not static”.  Regular readers of this blog know that is the common refrain of Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Our Grocerant Guru® can help your company 253-759-7869. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

At Chain Restaurants Leadership Matters


Is your restaurant brand recycling leadership from a bygone era? Do the action plans, marketing messaging, and turn-around plan look more like yesterday’s plans?  Results matter and if we have learned anything in 2020 according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® in 2020 the status quo is not.  Johnson ask his team to ‘Look A Customer Ahead’ rather than doing what’s always been done.  Here is an example of what can happen if you Look A Customer Ahead.

At the intersection of year over year customer count increases or decreases are the data points (touchtones) of customer relevance.  At times its important to look back in order to look forward. So, back in the day (2009), Domino’s awoke from a long period of brand protectionism practices, self-imposed rules that contributed to stifling sales growth, product quality, and a loss of customer relevance.  Domino’s was the first major retail brand to discard its core product for and completely new one since the failed rebranding of Coco Cola. It was a huge risk.  Guess what Domino’s won.

Domino’s did what I call Ground Branding.  It is not back to the basic’s it is a macro step not a micro step it’s a step into the future of brand marketing, positioning and essential for legacy brands continued consumer relevance. Ground Branding means repositioning a product or a company focusing on the core foundation of the legacy product or companies’ value with a dramatic shift in contemporized customer relevance.  Simply put incremental steps are not enough today. 

In Seth Godin's book Purple Cow where an entrepreneur wants to recapture some of the magic that the brand at one time had. Godin suggests that the key to success is finding a way to stand out and be remarkable, like a purple cow in a field of regular cows. That’s what Domino’s did and the company has never looked back.

Battle for Share of Stomach

Domino’s Pizza Inc. some eleven years later continues to see sales rise.  Domini’s stock price is up 300% over the past five years alone driven by continue year over year same store sales growth.  Customer relevance drive momentum in customer trial, adoption and on wall street.

Rebuilding customer relevance is important if a brand somehow grows out of touch.  At Domino’s the problem was the core product its pizza.  The customer is dynamic not static any your brand must be as well.  Is your brand still doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Does your brand look more like yesterday than today? What role does brand protectionism play in your restaurant, deli, or bodega?

The challenged for any grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food retailer is the ability to see and understand the customers focus at its core and then evolve.  Note: not your brands core; the customers core focus.  Being dynamic not static. Success does leave clues and companies leading the charge in 2021 will be leaders within their niche for years to come.

Food retailers that do not evolve be warned that the rest of will be reading headlines that C-level change is coming or came at your company. Without bold new young leaders many legacy retail food brands may simply become non relevant. Are you still recycling yesterday’s leaders? What attributes should a young leader have today vs a recycled leader? Do you need outside eyes to help drive top line sale and bottom line profits?

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions FIVE P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit:

Monday, September 28, 2020

Torchy’s Tacos Drives Sales with Retail Line into Local Whole Foods


Do you have flavorful craveable food? You, don’t have to be a national chain, a large chain, or the largest local restaurant company to drive top line sales and bottom-line profits outside of your four walls.  That according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Torchy’s Tacos, is an Austin-based ‘craft’ casual taco brand, with distinctive full-flavored menu items that consumers say creates a qualitative point of differentiation according to Johnson.  Now local residents will be able to purchase its famous Green Chile Queso and Diablo Sauce at local Whole Foods stores as well.

Torchy’s consumers will be available at approximately 40 Whole Foods locations in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. So, “taco junkies can bring the Torchy’s restaurant experience home on their next grocery store trip, for certified Damn Good snacking or elevating homemade creations with authentic Torchy’s flavor” according to local reports.

Torchy’s first opened as an Austin, Texas food trailer in 2006, Torchy’s Green Chile Queso has spurred queso addictions across the country with its creamy texture and touch of green chile heat, while Torchy’s signature Diablo Sauce adds a full-flavored, spicy kick to tacos and more. So, what is differentiation with distinction? Today, grocerant niche success comes from products that are familiar but with a twist; and at Torchy’s that twist is the unique flavor if its Green Chile Queso and Diablo Sauce.

Mike Rypka, founder of Torchy’s Tacos stated, “I started Torchy’s Tacos in 2006 as a food trailer and would ride around town on my red Vespa, inviting people to swing by to try our creative take on tacos and addictive queso,” … “In those early days, our Green Chile Queso became our calling card – when guests would try our tacos and queso, we’d often hear, ‘That’s damn good!” It’s been a fan favorite ever since. To see our Green Chile Queso and Diablo Sauce hit the shelves at Whole Foods, another hometown Austin brand, is incredibly exciting, and we can’t wait for fans to enjoy at home.”

Building your brand in nontraditional locations is an invitation for new consumer trial, customer adoption, and simultaneously a reward for your current customer base. How are you building you brand story? How are you rewarding your best customers? 

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Consumers Need Help They don’t want to Cook from Scratch


With restaurants closed or on reduced hours, consumer have been forced to cook from scratch and the simple fact is they are tired of it.  They say they miss the ‘flavors’, ‘variety’ and texture offered by restaurants according to Foodservice Solutions®, Grocerant ScoreCards conducted in September. 

When asked if they wanted to cook dinner from scratch or assemble dinner from fresh meal components 91.1 % of Gen Z chose assemble from Fresh Prepared Meal Components and Millennials 83.6 chose meal components.  According to Steven Johnson, Foodservice Solutions®, Grocerant Guru® that has been the trend for the past 25 years and Gen Z learned how to prepared meal components from their time stared parents.

A recent study conducted by EnsembleIQ reported that there is a high probability that nearly 40% of consumers will continue to homemade meals more often even after COVID-19 has pasted. That said the opportunity for every branded food retailer including restaurants, convenience stores, grocery store, liquor stores, drug stores and dollar stores will be in a race to fill you table with grocerant niche meal components according to Johnson. Let’s look at more of the EnsembleIQ findings:

The survey of 1,072 consumers, of which 80% said they do most of their household’s meal planning and cooking, was also strategically timed to gather responses during the latter part of July. The logic behind when the survey was fielded, was to better assess satisfaction with behaviors established during the earlier months of the pandemic, as a means to gauge future behaviors with a higher degree of accuracy.

·         Nearly 90% of those surveyed experimented with new recipes and ways to cook food during the pandemic.

·         Close to 70% said that they enjoyed “a lot” the meals they prepared.

·         Roughly half said that they got a lot of enjoyment out of cooking.

·         One reason for this is that close to 35% said they bought new utensils, countertop appliances and cookware to “play with.”

·       Roughly 42% said that they generally prefer their household’s home cooking to that of restaurants, while only 13% said that restaurant food is far better than home cooking.

·         When asked if they got tired of cooking at home, 28% said that they were very tired of cooking, and 45% said that they were a little tired.

·         “The key driver of increased use of prepared foods uncovered in the research is that roughly half of those surveyed viewed it as more affordable than restaurant food,”.  

We know now that consumers will continue to eat at home.  But where will the meals, meal be sold, produced, or branded?  Is your company producing something for tonight’s dinner table?  

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Teriyaki Madness Family Focused Food Marketing


If success leaves clues and it does.  Focusing on family meals when kids are returning to school is a food marketing tool kit staple that should never be over look or underutilized according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. 

This year as kids are returning to class at home or at school, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to create stressful situations for families across the country, with many parents still working from home and many children still receiving remote schooling. Help with dinner has never been so important according to Johnson.

Teriyaki Madness is not the largest chain restaurant but it has it’s focus in the right place. Teriyaki Madness is one of the few foodservice businesses to not only survive, but thrive during the COVID-19 crisis with same store sales up 17 percent year over year. The new Share-a-Bowl Meals promotion, five bowls of individual items served family-style at a really great price, from September 1 to October 15, is both consumer interactive and participatory two key attributes of grocerant niche success and sure to drive incremental sales and profits at the unit level.

So, the Family-Style Share-a-Bowl Meal at Teriyaki Madness feeds up to six people. Customers can choose two proteins (fresh, marinated and grilled chicken teriyaki, spicy chicken, orange chicken, steak teriyaki or spicy tofu); two bases (white rice, brown rice, fried rice or yakisoba noodles); and two appetizers (edamame, chicken eggroll, crab rangoon or chicken potstickers). Each meal comes with fresh, stir-fry veggies (zucchini, cabbage, onion, carrots and broccoli). For just $45*, customers can feed the whole family, with each member customizing their meal at home based on their cravings.

Teriyaki Madness EVP of Marketing Jodi Boyce stated, “As kids are returning to school, many of them doing it remotely, and families continue to adapt to the pandemic, we want to do whatever we can to make their lives a little easier during this difficult chapter,”... “This meal offers a really easy way to satisfy everyone’s cravings – with food even the kids will love – at a great price. It also happens to be healthy, but don’t tell the kids that part.”

Teriyaki Madness understands consumer interactive and partisipatory food marketing.  In May they introduced its Pay-it-Forward campaign, which asked customers to team up with the brand to split the cost of meals for healthcare workers. Since that campaign launched, Teriyaki Madness and its fans have provided more than 6,000 meals to healthcare professionals and first responders across the country. In June, the brand rolled out the The Four-Top, a combo meal deal offered exclusively to restaurant industry workers laid off since the arrival of the coronavirus.

Boyce continued, “As families across the nation have been navigating homeschooling, virtual learning, and tricky work and school schedules, we are all realizing just how important teachers are,”. “We are planning to launch a promotion in October to benefit teachers, and try to make their hectic lives just a little bit easier.”

The Share-a-Bowl Meal can be order in-shop, online or through the TMAD app for pickup or delivery through October 15. Doe’s you marketing look more like yesterday that today?

Looking for success clues of your own? Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced food marketing and business development ideations. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities, technology, or a new menu product segment.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Friday, September 25, 2020

Grocerant Prepared Food Success Clues


The pandemic will still be with us in 2021, consumers are moving forward and will need special attention at the intersection of old desires in dinning and meals and what they have come to become accustom too according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA base Foodservice Solutions.

Here is the good news 38% of consumers are looking forward to dining out again in the next three months, according to a new survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by SevenRooms, a data-driven guest experience platform. But every potential customer has different needs and expectations. Here are some of the insights from that report we though could be of some help to you targeting customer for meals and meal dayparts.  

To make it less challenging for operators to navigate the new dining landscape, SevenRooms grouped these needs into four “diner personas” based on the survey results.

1.       The pickup patron: These consumers won’t be ready to dine out until there’s a vaccine. Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) will only order for takeout or delivery for the remainder of 2020. Restaurants seem to be doing a good job with these platforms—about half of all Americans continue to feel comfortable ordering food to go.

2.       The safety-savvy consumer: It’s no surprise that customers want to see restaurants following health and safety guidelines. Face masks and 6-foot social distancing are givens, but this group of guests is looking for more. Over one-third of respondents (37%) want physical barriers between tables, 33% want personal hand sanitizers placed on the table and 24% want their food covered when it’s served to them.

3.       The tech-conscious contactless diner: About 1 in 7 consumers (13%) will only visit restaurants that offer a contactless dining experience. Topping the list are virtual waitlists, with 22% of respondents saying they want to join a waitlist before they arrive so they can be seated immediately. Around the same number (21%) want operators to use contact tracing technology, and 17% are in favor of QR codes for ordering and paying.

4.       The carefree guest: This diner persona is eager to dine out in restaurants and less concerned about risks and restrictions. While 29% are comfortable sitting indoors at a restaurant, many more (42%) are limiting visits to outdoor venues. Familiar restaurants are more likely to be on their list—37% are more comfortable dining at places they’ve been to before, but 25% would visit a new restaurant. Bars are not a priority; only 15% of consumers would patronize a drinking establishment.

Joel Montaniel, CEO and co-founder of SevenRooms stated, “As local economies across the country continue to reopen, restaurant operators are navigating the right balance between safety and traditional models for hospitality,” “Our research has made one thing clear: Operators need to be flexible. Whether it’s in regard to outdoor dining, virtual waitlists or contactless order and pay—guest have different needs.”

YouGov PLC conducted the survey with 1,237 Americans from July 31-Aug. 3. The four diner personas are identified in the company’s new report, “Restaurant Reckoning: Dynamic Diner.”

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Consumers Help Marks and Spencer Expand Sustainability


Once again Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® points out how 2021 is fast becoming the year of from ‘me too we’ within the fresh food space.  Regular readers of this blog know that United Kingdom grocery retailer Marks & Spencer has established it success focusing on consumer relevant touchpoints. 

Marks & Spencer has announced that based on consumer adoption that is it is extending its initiative to turn unsold fresh bakery loaves into frozen garlic bread to 200 stores as part of its 2030 goal to halve food waste.  We have been informed that the decision to expand the initiative to more stores follows a successful pilot project in eight outlets.

So, get this the Head of business collaboration at WRAP, David Moon, said, “Bread is the second most wasted food item in the home, with around one million loaves thrown away every day. As a short shelf-life item, bread can also become a surplus at the end of trading.

“This initiative from M&S is a simple solution to a real problem that turns a surplus item into a brand-new product to be enjoyed anew, and stops food being wasted.” At the end of each day, unsold baguettes and boules at M&S stores are filled with garlic butter and frozen. The process extends the shelf life of the item by 30 days, the retailer added.

So, according to Paul Willgoss, M&S food director of technology, “Our customers love the freshness and quality of our in-store bakery products, but their short shelf-life means it can be a challenging area for waste.

“By turning leftover loaves into frozen garlic bread, we’re not only creating delicious new products for family mealtimes, but we’re also helping to Spark Change together with our customers to significantly reduce waste.” Sustainability will be the focus and talking point within all sectors of foodservice in 2021 as the importance of the ‘halo’ of better for you becomes top of mind in consumer relevance according to Johnson.

Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.