Trendwire, October 2009

Trendwire, October 2009

Food & Drink

Trendwire, October 2009


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The Food Channel Trendwire
October 2009 • Volume 24, Number 8 •

Fast-Casual Restaurateurs Plot Strategy in Dallas

Executives representing the nation’s top fast-casual restaurants huddled last month in Dallas for the second annual Fast Casual Executive Summit. The executives shared experiences, networked, and discussed many of the key challenges facing the fast-casual segment.

While many segments of the dining out industry have experienced declines in patron traffic due to the economic downturn, the fast-casual category has enjoyed not only stability, but also growth. The gathered leaders focused on ways to seize that momentum.

Among the key takeaways from the Summit: Hire the smile, train for skills. The old adage about hiring people with the right attitude still holds true, said Au Bon Pain Marketing SVP Ed Frechette. Build your brand with social media. Facebook and Twitter offer great opportunities to connect with customers. Consumers are learning to live with less. The recessionary economy has made it more critical than ever to deliver real value—and to communicate that value to customers in a very real way.

Sustainability: It’s a Hot Button That’s Getting Hotter

Research shows that an increasing number of environmentally conscious consumers today are making food purchase decisions based on sustainability. They may not use that word (which can be somewhat elusive), but they want to buy products with recyclable packaging and seafood that is not overfished, and patronize restaurants that are good citizens of the planet.

Industries are recognizing the attitude shift. You can tell by industry conferences that are sprouting up, such as last month’s Northwest Sustainability Discovery Tour in Oregon: and the FMI Food Industry Sustainability Summit held in San Francisco:

Individual companies and brands are also scrambling to get greener and reduce their carbon footprints. Bumble Bee Foods recently introduced its first 100 percent biodegradable packaging, and Sutter Home Winery is now using PET (plastic) bottles for all of its 187-ml wine bottles sold in the U.S.:

Restaurants, too, continue their efforts to implement more sustainable practices. Earlier this spring, CKE Restaurants opened its flagship “green” Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Carpinteria, Calif.:

The sustainability of our oceans has become a major concern for consumers as well as the seafood and fishing industries—not to mention hardcore environmentalists. Ordinary citizens now have a wide range of sources to check on the sustainability of today’s catch:

Trolling the Latest Trends in Seafood

Fish by Mail? Designer Fish? These are just two of the trends we can expect to experience in the coming year according to The Food Channel Top Ten Seafood Trends. And—no surprise—sustainability comes up big here, too. You can view the entire top ten here:

Introducing is the new Resource Center for Ideas and Information from The Food Channel in partnership with U.S. Foodservice. It’s a forum where foodservice professionals and consumers alike can stay abreast of current and emerging trends, find food inspiration and training, discover new recipes, and much more. The site will be refreshed with new features on a quarterly basis. See all that there is to offer:

The Food Channel also publishes a great consumer newsletter, called FoodWire®. To receive a copy, please register your email address at

©2009 Food Channel, LLC. All rights reserved.

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