The Continued Evolution of Coca-Cola’s Portfolio

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“(…) The products, which debuted at the 2018 NACS Show in Las Vegas, tap into trending categories and insights, said JC Harvey, director of retail channel strategy and commercialization at Atlanta-based Coca-Cola.”

“Far Coast is the company’s foray into the explosive cold-brew coffee segment. Slated to launch in January, the products are packaged in resealable aluminum bottles and feature single-origin coffee beans. Varieties include Single Source Ethiopian, Signature Blend Latin American and Café con Leche, which includes milk.

In the premium water category, Coca-Cola’s smartwater brand is expanding with two varieties: smartwater alkaline and smartwater antioxidant. Like the original product, both are vapor-distilled with added electrolytes for taste. The antioxidant water is infused with selenium. Alkaline water is ionized and has a higher pH level than regular drinking water.”

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C-Stores Evolve With Guests

What’s old is new again.  Conveniences store, the oft-forgotten stepchild of the grocery, restaurant, foodservice continuum are stepping into a new age.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen the restaurant industry eclipse grocery sales in America, which was a huge first.  Now, restaurant revenues have finally started to slow–not slip!–and some spending to return to other formats.

And C-stores want a piece of the action.  At Choice Market in Denver, guests can get artisan sandwiches and staples like quinoa or kombucha on tap.  Housed in 2,700 square feet–about the size of an average Chipotle, places like Choice Market and Green Zebra, in Portland, are finding a new niche between QSR’s and grocery stores, but well above the traditional Doritos-and-candy convenience store.

Traditional players, like Wawa, have long known the value of the their real estate and already provide an up-scaled convenient experience.  And now Amazon is getting in on the action with Amazon Go–a cashless, cashier-less store that tracks you and bills your Amazon account.

We’re seeing a confluence of trends merge on similar themes again and again: grocery stores relying on prepared foods for sales, restaurants capitalizing on the fast casual trend, and automation in point of sale.

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Salvage Supperclub is a Pop-Up in a Dumpster

29-salvages-supper-club.w710.h473.2x.jpgSalvage Supperclub is the latest outcome of an increased public awareness about food waste: a traveling pop-up dinner made entirely from wasted food and served (appropriately) in a converted dumpster. The chef behind the club, Pesha Perlsweig, believes that they can change diners’ outlooks with each meal. “It makes me happy to hear that a former guest made carrot top pesto or was inspired by a dish of mine,” she says.

Salvage Supperclub has already hosted dinners in Berkeley, San Francisco and their native New York. And while the list of ingredients at one dinner (including bruised plums, vegetable pulp, garbanzo bean water, sweet potato skins and overripe, peel-on bananas) might force some guests to stifle a gag, the NPR reviewer present described almost everything as “finger-licking good.”

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Brexit’s Impact on the Specialty Food Market

ba5403b65e43df0297aeba68d6c0ca1fc082559f.jpegThis weekend’s news was understandably dominated by Brexit, and the far-reaching implications of the vote. One unexpected result of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union falls on the English specialty food market, which has so far benefited from the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin status on many of it’s products.

This status, applied throughout the EU to products ranging from wines to olive oils to cheese and meat, allows specific regions to claim sole use of specific brand designations. Most famously, “champagne” is not champagne unless it is produced in the eponymous French province, using the méthode champenoise. Gorgonzola can only be gorgonzola if it comes from Italy. And in England, products like Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire-forced rhubarb are all protected by designated status.

England actually has more than 60 foods and beverages with protected designations. After the vote late last week to leave the EU, this status will disappear, and producers around the world can begin making products like Rutland bitter beer, Stilton cheese and pork from Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs. While none of these have quite the cache of champagne, they still represent the food culture of the country – and the loss of PDO status could have a real impact on the farmers, brewers and craftsmen who make them.

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Ikea Gets into the Hyper-Local Game

635925890195816807-242942337_Header.jpgAt first glance, it might seem like an affordable furniture company has very little to do with the farm-to-table movement. But where others might see apples and oranges (or apples and bookshelves, as the case may be), Ikea sees opportunity.

The brand recently partnered with Space 10, a “future-living lab” and exhibition space in Copenhagen, to produce an environmentally sustainable hydroponic gardening system (called “The Farm”) made primarily using Ikea products like LED lights, shelving, and plastic bins. All told, 80% of the materials in The Farm come from Ikea’s product lines.

Ikea plans to roll out the new hydroponic system in their in-store cafes. Those cafes have historically been known more for Swedish meatballs, lingonberry jam and baked goods than for fresh produce, but that may change in the near future. Although food sales represent a very small portion of Ikea’s overall revenue, they ultimately plan to market The Farm to restaurants and home gardening enthusiasts interested in producing more of their own vegetables. If the hyper-local movement is any indication, this market will continue to grow in the coming months – and Ikea may just be on to something.

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Joe’s Crab Shack Defects from Gratuity-Free

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Several months after going the no-tipping route, Joe’s Crab Shack has now rolled back the model from 18 restaurants to just 4. CEO Bob Merritt tells investors that customers simply don’t like it, and foot count is down 8 to 10% on average among the locations.

The chain was originally praised for their efforts, which followed on the heels of higher-end restaurateurs like Danny Meyer, Gabriel Stulman and Andrew Tarlow. Overall they raised server wages to $14 an hour and menu prices by 12 to 15%. “We tried it for quite a while, tried communicating it different ways,” Merritt explained, but a large portion of guests were unswayed. Research indicates that about 60% of guests disliked the model, either because they didn’t trust management to pay the higher wages or they preferred being able to incentivize good service.

Joe’s will revert 14 locations back to their former tipped model, but the remaining 4 have apparently been working much better. Merritt says they plan to treat those stores as a rich source of research, and figure out what distinguishes them from locations where it doesn’t work.

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Highlights from the North American Restaurant and Foodservice 2016 Outlook

There’s good news to be had in the 2016 restaurant data so far, but there’s also a lot of data to sift through. You can read the full report here, or see some key take-aways below:

  • Employment levels and disposable income are high, riding positive tailwinds from the end of last year. The number of restaurants per-capita has also decreased steadily from a peak in 2013, meaning there is less supply to meet the growing demand.
  • A decline in oil prices is good news for restaurants’ bottom lines, but has affected the industry unevenly, creating more competition for major chains from smaller players.
  • Guest priorities include lower prices, improved healthy menu options, and a focus on food safety.
  • Quick-service-restaurants are focusing more on discounting, but guests are still most likely to use coupons and deals from restaurants they already visit frequently.
  • Most consumers support wage increases throughout the service industry, and would be willing to pay a premium toward such increases.
  • Tipping is still a controversial topic, with 65% of survey respondents saying they do not support replacing gratuity with a service charge.
  • Online and mobile ordering is the most important technological priority to restaurant guests.