Thursday, September 30, 2021

Grocerant Convenience Drives Fresh Food and Beverage Sales


At the intersection of fresh, fast, flavorful food is the convergence of time starved consumers looking for What’s for Dinner.  Regular readers of those blog know consumer want a meal, that is full flavored, fast to fix, and

Restaurants with drive-thru’s have been clogged for two years, as consumers look for a quick solution to what’s for dinner.  Convenience stores are not sitting back just watching consumers migrate from them back to fast food restaurants. While Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® insist that the line between a meal, snack, or coffee break may be a bit blurred right know to an untrained observer, he assures us consumer go where they can get just what they want and when they want it.

Recently in Datassential’s 2021 Convenience Store Keynote they took a close look at bite-sized snacks and easy-to-grab-and-go meals are more important now whether they are needed during a morning commute or a road trip.

Datassential’s 2021 Convenience Store Keynote, helps us begin to understand the attitudes toward the c-store market, which found “58 percent of operators say that hot breakfast foods are driving their sales. Consumers focus on grocerant niche fresh fast flavorful foods and operators need to think of ways to get traffic into their stores, all-day breakfast availability and ready-to-grab and-go options should be top of mind.

Once again Datassential’s fund that handheld breakfast options like quesadillas, burritos and tacos are the perfect innovation when thinking of grab-and-go as they can be easily customized for every diet type, from vegetarian friendly to extra protein.

According to Datassential’s MenuTrends database, “Healthy enough” breakfast dishes, like avocado toast, have seen a spike the past few years., avocado toast has grown on breakfast menus by 691 percent the past four years, and it’s not stopping there. The ‘halo’ of better-4-you foods continue to drive consumer adoption and growth within the grocerant niche according to Johnson.

So, when Dunkin’ introduced avocado toast on its menu topped with cherrywood smoked bacon on sourdough toast — for just $4. It became a home run for Millennials and Gen Z.

One thing is clear C-store have pushed the boundaries when it comes to what a convenience store can make in-house. C-store menu innovation tracked in Datassential’s SCORES database shows that frozen and blended beverages stand out for both unique appeal and frequency, which drive repeat ordering. Blended beverages have increased in presence at both c-stores and other quick-service operators. Unique flavor profiles can elevate craveable beverage and food profile that garner incremental visits.

Datassential’s noted that blended beverages like smoothies and milkshakes are standout items that have become more interesting over time. For instance, nostalgic flavors like cotton candy, s’mores and birthday cake are indulgent and bring out the kid in anyone. (Well almost anyone.)

Get this, cold brew, which has grown 795 percent on blended beverage menus, has made an appearance at quick service operators like Jamba and Smoothie King, which offer smoothies with cold brew, fruit and protein powder as a morning or afternoon pick-me-up.

Customization and personalization success driven by grocerant niche mix & match meal component bundling works. Datassential’s found that by the Slice Fifty-one percent of consumers say they would be interested in customizing their own pizza at convenience stores; however, only 16 percent of operators offer the option. Pizza is a ubiquitous platform that can be customized from the crust to sauce, cheese and toppings. Sauce, in particular, can change the whole flavor profile of pizza — as it has for other foodservice items. 

Operators have incorporated sauces such as Thousand Island Dressing to reimagine sandwiches like Reubens or McDonald’s Big Mac. C-store chain Casey’s General Stores Inc. has introduced a variety of pizzas the past year from Chicken Quesadilla Pizza to Philly Cheesesteak Pizza, which has grown by 17 percent the past four years on permanent pizza menus. It’s evident that Americans love pizza by the fact that 26 percent of consumers say they purchased pizza the last time they visited a c-store. Build-your-own pizzas are a great way to personalize each slice. Mix and Match Meal Component Bundling works.

Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom-line profits. Are you looking a customer ahead? Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

At 100 Nathan’s Continues to Expand


This year my mother turned 90 years old, she recently informed us that planning to travel back to Europe and one stop for sure will in France.  I informed her that Nathan's Famous, recently teamed with Tommy's Café to Bring its Hot Dogs to France.  She said, I’ll be there for a little comfort food. I bet she will not be alone doing that.  That my friends is how the power of a partnership can extend you brand invitation while driving new electricity throughout the brand.

So, Nathan's Famous, an American success with a tradition serving New York favorite Hot Dogs for more than 100 years, announced a new collaboration with Tommy's Diner, a 50's throwback American diner based in France, to offer its hot dogs in all locations across the country, making it the first time Nathan's Famous is served in France. This relationship continues Nathan's Famous growth in Europe and beyond.

"Nathan's Famous is known the world over, which is why we've had such great success in recent years growing in the Middle East, Asia, and Great Britain," states James Walker, Senior Vice President, Restaurants. "This new relationship with Tommy's is a big step for us as we look to see that growth spread throughout Europe, and we're excited that they are our first French outpost and will be one of the first internationally to have our foot-long hot dog."

Think brand relevance in an evolving world, that will edify brand value with relevance and new electricity. According to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  “Brand relevance is in part driven with innovation in new food products in combination with new avenues of distribution all of which are the platform for the new electricity.”  That said, what are you waiting for?

Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply and includes such things as fresh foods, developing brands, unique urban clothing, grocerant positioning, fresh food messaging, autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, plates, glasses, cash-less payments, digital hand-held marketing.

All retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food that is portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different. 

Nathan’s will attend Anuga, the leading global trade fair for the food and beverage industry, for the first time. Visitors of the show can find Nathan's Famous in Hall 9.1 at Stand B021, October 9 -13. Prior to Anuga, Nathan’s Famous will also attend Franchise Expo Paris from September 26-29 (Stand: V85) and the International Franchise Show London, October 1-2 (Stand: US09).

"We're excited to head to Cologne for the Anuga show as it's one of the largest trade fairs for the international food industry," continues Walker. "With so many vendors across a variety of product segments, we know it's the perfect fit for Nathan's Famous."

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert, and public speaking will leave success clues for all. For more information visit, FoodserviceSolutions.US or call 1-253-759-7869

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Is Cultivated Meat a Supply Chain Solution or a Consumers Delight


When the undercurrents of consumers preferences and supply chain solutions converge, success is never that far away according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

We all talk about sustainable products, there are those who help companies garner public attention to drive sustainable business success so all of us can benefit. Grocerant niche success has been driven in large part by incremental ‘better-4-you’, ‘better-4-us’ and ‘better-4-the world’ foods, and food packaging products.

So, A-lister, Leonardo DiCaprio is backing one of the food industry’s emerging trends: cultivated meat. The Academy Award-winning actor and environmental activist is joining Aleph Farms and Mosa Meat as an investor and advisor. Both companies have grown beef directly from animal cells, with the unveiling of the first cultivated hamburger by Mosa Meat in 2013 and the first cultivated steak and ribeye by Aleph Farms in 2018 and 2021, respectively. 

In new research from Our World in Data predicts that global meat consumption will grow 40-70% by 2050, presenting cultivated meat as a solution to greatly reduce the current negative impacts of industrial beef production. Cultivated meat also enables diners to enjoy the qualities of the meat they love, eliminating the need for any major behavioral change as opposed to going vegan with plant-based alternatives. As a result, McKinsey & Co. analysts have projected the cultivated meat market could reach $25 billion by 2030.  

DiCaprio, stated, “One of the most impactful ways to combat the climate crisis is to transform our food system. Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms offer new ways to satisfy the world’s demand for beef, while solving some of the most pressing issues of current industrial beef production. I’m very pleased to join them as an advisor and investor, as they prepare to introduce cultivated beef to consumers,”. 

Independent research from a Life Cycle Analysis study, cultivated beef production is projected to reduce climate impact by 92%, air pollution by 93%, use 95% less land and 78% less water when compared to industrial beef production. It offers the opportunity to use the spare land for re-wilding habitats, which would naturally reduce emissions or for producing more food for people. Moreover, the automated process through which cultivated meat is produced, and the sterile environment of its manufacturing, will eliminate the use of antibiotics and greatly reduce the risk for pathogens, contaminants and foodborne illnesses associated with concentrated and intensive animal farming.  

In case you did not know, Mosa Meat unveiled the first cultivated hamburger in 2013 by growing beef directly from animal cells.

Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Israel-based Aleph Farms said: “As a committed environmentalist, we welcome Leonardo DiCaprio to our advisory board and family of top tier investors. Our team is committed to improving the sustainability of our global food systems and we’re thrilled to have Leo share in our vision.” 

Aleph Farms grows beef steaks, from non-genetically engineered cells isolated from a living cow, without harming animals and with a significantly reduced impact to the environment. Aleph Farms released the world’s first cultivated steak in December 2018 and the world’s first cultivated ribeye steak in 2021.

"Leonardo DiCaprio’s work to bring about positive change is closely aligned with our mission at Mosa Meat," added Maarten Bosch, CEO of Mosa Meat, which is headquartered in The Netherlands. "We are thrilled to bring him on board as advisor and investor and work together to feed current and future generations sustainably.” 

Founders of Mosa Meat introduced the world’s first cultivated beef hamburger in 2013 by also growing it directly from cow cells. Bolstered by $96 million in funding to date, Mosa Meat is now set to scale up production of its cultured beef. 

"One of the most impactful ways to combat the climate crisis is to fundamentally reshape our global food system," remarked DiCaprio. "Mosa Meat pioneered a cleaner, kinder way of making real beef with the world’s first cultivated beef burger in 2013. I’m honored to join them as advisor and investor as they now prepare to bring cultivated beef to market for all those who crave change.” 

Note: DiCaprio is also an investor and advocate for plant-based company Beyond Meat. In his continued efforts to fight climate change, he urged his 37 million social media followers back in March to replace meat with vegan burgers at least once a week.  Are you looking a customer ahead?

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideas look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how our Grocerant Guru® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Monday, September 27, 2021

At Hy-Vee it’s National Family Meals Month

In case you did not know, The Food Industry Association (FMI), National Family Meals Month is an Grocery Store sector industry-inspired movement to raise consumer awareness of the health and societal benefits of sharing frequent family meals, developed by FMI.

Over the years research consistently shows that children who share regular family meals typically display better grades, improved nutrition, stronger family relationships and higher self-esteem, and they are less likely to use drugs and alcohol. Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® believes this great program should be run four times a year rather than just one.

Today, while most families often find it difficult to find time to sit down and enjoy a meal together due to busy schedules, Hy-Vee noted, the effects of the continued pandemic have brought new challenges and opportunities to families. With more meals being eaten at home, Hy-Vee said it is committed to bringing families together around the dinner table by making mealtime even easier. 

Coinciding with National Family Meals Month is Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 15. It begins in the middle of the month to commemorate the independence of many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. Hy-Vee is wisely extending programs valuable messaging.

Throughout the month, Hy-Vee will look to help families enjoy at least one more meal together each week while also recognizing family meal traditions that stem from various heritages. While the company says additional announcements and event details will be made throughout the month of September, currently scheduled special events and offerings include: 

·         Contactless drive-thru giveaways offering free dinners at select Hy-Vee and Dollar Fresh locations across Hy-Vee’s eight-state region. Full-size meals that serve 4-6 people will be given away at each event as a way to bring families together around the dinner table, especially for families in areas experiencing significant food insecurity as a result of the continued pandemic.                                                                       

·         Kids 12 and younger can eat free with each purchase of an adult entrée every day in September at all Hy-Vee food service departments and Hy-Vee Market Grille locations, as well as Hy-Vee-owned Wahlburgers locations. Shoppers can get one free kids meal with each purchase of a select adult entrée. The offer is valid for dine-in and carryout or delivery, where available, via the Hy-Vee website.                       

·         Daily recipes, weekly meal ideas and grab-and-go dinner options will be offered on Hy-Vee’s social-media platforms to make mealtime easier.                                                                                                                              

·         Hy-Vee KidsFit social-media platforms will share videos and resources to encourage kids and parents to stay active and make healthy choices together.    



·         Live cooking demonstrations with Hy-Vee chefs and dietitians will take place throughout the month on the Hy-Vee Facebook page. Viewers can participate in the Q&A session and enter for the chance to win prizes.   

·         Family-friendly freezer meals virtual classes led by Hy-Vee dietitians will guide participants through five days of meals to feed their family and offer customers tips and information on how they can shop and prepare food quickly and on a budget. Starting this month, classes will also be offered in Spanish.                         

·         Eating Better on a Budget virtual store tours with a Hy-Vee dietitian will help customers navigate the aisles for eating better on a budget. Shoppers can learn strategies for planning meals, shopping smarter and comparing products for the best value.                                                                                      

·         A digital family cooking guide containing multicultural recipes to inspire families to try new cuisines while also supporting various dietary needs and lifestyles. This resource is available on the recipe section of Hy-Vee’s website.                                                                                                              

Extending it branded message, Hy-Vee has partnered with national childcare network WeeCare to help employees find and access in-home childcare. WeeCare's network includes qualified in-home providers in both highly populated and rural areas across the United States, according to the company.

Hy-Vee Chairman, CEO and President Randy Edeker, stated, “We’re excited to add WeeCare to our extensive list of employee benefits,”. “Many of our employees are parents or caregivers, and having affordable, trustworthy childcare when they come to work every day helps give them peace of mind. We want to be the best place to work and shop in America, and that starts with taking care of our employees.”

Jessica Chang, CEO of WeeCare, stated, “Currently, only 7% of companies provide childcare assistance to their employees,” “Hy-Vee is raising the bar for organizations nationwide, and WeeCare is proud to be part of the movement to support working parents.” WeeCare touts that its average tuition is generally 40% less expensive, as it offers exclusively in-home childcare with lower teacher-to-child ratios and providers conveniently located near parents’ home and work. Meals matter, family meals matter even more.  How are you extending your brand messaging?

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: FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Regional Restaurant Powerhouse Burgerville Focuses on Interactive Participatory Marketing


A company’s brand messaging should be an invitation too brand trail and adoption. There is no better example of the power of brand messaging that regional fresh fast-food powerhouse Burgerville according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Burgerville has consistently edified its relationship with parents for offering vegetable and flower seeds instead of plastic toys in its kids’ meal bags as regular readers of this blog know. They have now unveiled Seedlings, a new program in partnership with the Culinary Breeding Network, to make Northwest-grown and bred seeds available to customers, teach kids and adults about growing plants, and inspire gardeners to grow locally grown and bred seeds at home. What could be more interactive and participatory?

So, the Seedlings program includes newly designed envelopes for the seeds, new bags for the kids’ meals, the introduction of the Seed Wizard to excite kids about seeds and gardening, and stories from the Northwest farmers who grow the seeds.

Once again, at the center of all of this is Michelle Battista, Burgerville Senior Vice President of Brand and Marketing and co-founder of Seedlings.   Battista, stated, “Burgerville has always been proud of offering seeds in our kids’ meals. We love sharing with children and their families the joys of gardening and showing how to care for the land. The Seedlings program is going to take us to the next step because it’s supporting Northwest seed growers and breeders, who are really the unsung heroes of local agriculture.”

Seedlings seed varieties will rotate seasonally. The current lineup includes:

1.        ‘Outredgeous’ Lettuce - Bred by Frank Morton at Wild Garden Seed in Philomath, Oregon, this lettuce was actually grown in outer space and was planted in the White House Garden by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

2.        ‘Cascadia’ Snap Pea – Calvin Lamborn, the father of snap peas, created an entirely new category of vegetable through decades of breeding, trials and selections. The ‘Cascadia’ Snap Pea is a variety bred at Oregon State University (OSU) by Jim Baggett.

3.        ‘Purple Karma’ Barley – This barley is an heirloom variety that is hulless, so it can be easily cooked and eaten like rice, but also beautiful as an ornamental decoration in any garden. The variety was brought to the U.S. in 1924 from Tibet but spent decades tucked away in the USDA seed repository until OSU researcher Brigid Meints began breeding new organic barley with it.

Lane Selman, director of the Culinary Breeding Network and assistant professor at OSU, stated, “The Pacific Northwest is one of the best areas in the world to grow seed. There is an unknown community of individuals here growing seeds and breeding new varieties of the food we eat. It is the mission of the Culinary Breeding Network to raise awareness of the importance of seed and the impact it has on our food system. Burgerville will be an excellent partner in educating kids and adults on the power of the tiny seed and sharing stories of our regional seed heroes,”.

Technology is relevant for today for Millennials and GenZ digital natives according to Johnson, So, this year Burgerville has also unveiled a new app, available from the App Store and Google Play, as well as a brand-new loyalty program called LocalVille, which rewards customers for purchases. First time users who download the app will be rewarded with a free cheeseburger.

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.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Breakfast Daypart Deluge: A Virtual Restaurant Happy Hour


Who want to cook and do breakfast dishes before they head to work? Not many in the United States according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Hand held food for immediate consumption that is ‘deemed’ better-for-you’ has reached the breakfast mid-set of consumers according to Johnson. Are you competing for a larger share of stomach?

Competing for a larger share of stomach, companies the ilk of Nextbite, a leader in virtual restaurants are steaking a claim for a larger share of breakfast. According to a new survey hosted by Nextbite Forty-five percent of consumers ranked breakfast sandwiches as one of their favorite breakfast items.  So, Nexbite conducted the survey in conjunction with National Breakfast Day (September 26).

1.       The survey found 24% of consumers rated breakfast sandwiches as their favorite breakfast food item,

2.       With 21% choosing it as their second favorite breakfast selection. 

3.       Delivery for breakfast is also about to get a boost, as 39% of consumers order breakfast for delivery at least once a month.

So, let’s look at what consumers like to eat that was found in the survey. In addition to breakfast sandwiches, other top breakfast favorites include pancakes/waffles/french toast (18%), cooked eggs (14%) and breakfast burritos (11%).  While men are more likely (44%) than women (37%) to order breakfast at least once a month, women (14%) are more likely than men (11%) to indicate that breakfast is their favorite meal of the day.  And, 18% of respondents indicated they are ordering breakfast for delivery more often.

Get this, consumers aren’t just eating breakfast in the morning any more.  Twenty percent of men surveyed order breakfast for an afternoon snack once a week or more, and 26% of dinners include traditional breakfast items.

This is important, according to the survey, the top reasons consumers order breakfast for delivery are food quality (19%), convenience (17%) and taste (17%).  The survey also revealed that consumers order breakfast for delivery more during the week (37%) than on the weekend (20%).

Remember that Nextbite is a virtual restaurant, branded empowering consumer choice. For National Breakfast Day, Nextbite launched a special promotion (Sept. 24-26) enabling consumers to buy one item and get one free on all the delivery apps for its breakfast menu items --Crack’t and Hatch House breakfast sandwiches along with the Huevorito breakfast burrito.

Alex Canter, CEO of Nextbite, stated, “People are looking for variety and quality in their delivery breakfast choices,”  “Our new Crack’t and HatchHouse concepts give consumers a range of options, from delectable brunch-inspired specialties to exciting new twists on the ever-popular breakfast sandwich and breakfast burrito. The convenience of breakfast delivery makes it even better for busy workers and students.”

Available to consumers through Nextbite restaurant partners, the new Nextbite delivery-only breakfast options include: Hatch House classic breakfast sandwiches with a gourmet touch; Crack’t amped up breakfast “sammies”; and HuevoRito authentic breakfast burritos with eggs, potatoes, meats, veggies and cheese. HuevoRito also includes a hearty vegan option.

Consumers can order Nextbite’s new breakfast menu items through delivery services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates and Grubhub. Nextbite partners with restaurants to offer these delivery-only menu items.

Don’t over reach. Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter