Saturday, February 27, 2021

Dunkin Expanding the ‘halo’ of Better-for-You


Consumer like fresh fast food, they like drive thru’s, and they like Inspire Brands restaurant retail outlets for all of the right reasons including craveability, creativity, consistency according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Back in the day the Grocerant Guru® introduced regular readers of this blog about a new avenue of fresh food distribution that was about to take off.  That company was, Farmer’s Fridge.  Now that fresh food vending company, is testing some of its salads, bowls and breakfast items at select Dunkin’ locations elevating choice for Dunkin’s retail customers while extending the ‘halo’ of better-for you according to Johnson.

Farmer’s Fridge in its first test pilot restaurant program is taking place at six Dunkin’ stores at which a limited selection of items are on offer behind the counter. Eventually, they will be available in grab-and-go cases rather than the traditional Farmer’s Fridge stand-alone vending fridges.

Meghan Hurley, head of marketing for Farmer’s Fridge stated, “Dunkin’ was exploring new, healthy food options focused on plant-forward ingredients,”... “Our CEO was introduced to the Dunkin’ folks in 2020 and the idea was launched.”

Regular readers of this blog know that, Farmer’s Fridge has traditionally set up its vending operations in airports, college campuses, office buildings, hospitals and similar venues. There are now about 350 installations, but this is the first venture with a QSR.

So, Dunkin’ is offering two Farmer’s Fridge salads and two bowls, including a harvest salad, Greek salad, pesto pasta and a burrito bowl—the last a combo of black beans, a brown rice-quinoa blend, fire-roasted corn, roasted fajita veggies and guacamole. Also on the menu are chia pudding, apple-cinnamon oats and a yogurt parfait. None of these were developed specifically for Dunkin; these items were already in the fridges, said Hurley.

Fresh and sustainable in its vending operations, all the food is packed into recyclable glass jars. Dunkin’ customers can either recycle these at home or bring the jars back to the store where the purchase was made.

In a press release an Inspire Brands spokesperson stated “Dunkin’ is committed to delivering a wide variety of delicious, convenient menu choices to help keep our guests running all day long, including options that make it easier to eat on-the-go," "We are currently testing Farmer’s Fridge prepackaged salads, grain bowls and breakfast items inside a total of six restaurants in the Chicago and New Jersey markets. The test is designed to gather valuable feedback from consumers, franchisees and their employees to help inform future decisions.” Farmers Fridge in the minds-eye of our grocerant guru® has developed top-of-mind awareness for better for you fresh food within the vending sector and sees no reason they can’t be a perfect fit at Dunkin outlets.

Like all of us, with many of its fridges in locations that immediately shut down at the start of the pandemic, Farmer’s Fridge had to quickly transform its business model. “We lost 70% to 80% of our business that first week, but by the end of March, we built an e-commerce site on Shopify and launched self-delivery in some markets,” said Hurley. “People still wanted healthy food fast, so we were serving the same occasion as we did at the office.”

The company also relocated some of its fridges in hospitals and universities to make them more accessible to frontline workers and quarantining students. Farmer’s Fridge also debuted a Chef Collab series, using well-known restaurant chefs to create recipes for the fridges and home delivery. “When restaurants shut down, we asked the chefs what they would make at home, and they developed dishes for us,” said Hurley.

The lineup includes Andrew Kim, Paul Kahan, Missy Robbins and Stephanie Izard. Girl and the Goat’s Izard created a tofu bowl. It worked.  Almost a year later, Farmer’s Fridge business is back to pre-pandemic levels, said Hurley, but sales are going through different channels. With about half the fridges currently inactive, the company is currently doing more wholesale, e-commerce and delivery.

Hurley continued, “In 2021, “we want to take a step back and build out these channels,” ... “The menu team also wants to focus on product development and develop recipes based on trends and customers’ needs. The Dunkin’ fridges are just in test right now, but we hope to partner with other restaurants in the future.” How are you expanding the increasingly valued customer touchpoint of ‘better-for-you?

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.

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