Welcome Back to Chicago for the 2022 Restaurant Show!
The DMA family is looking forward to gathering again for the first time since
2019! We'll be outdoors under the lights at a brand-new-to-NRA venue - the
newly refurbished Old Post Office on Van Buren in the Loop. This will be an amazing
chance to reconnect with the industry and celebrate the continued resurgence of
foodservice! If you would like to join us on the rooftop, reply
to Charley for more information.
Why Restaurants are Venturing into the Metaverse
chains are entering the great unknown, taking bold leaps into the "metaverse."
It's the latest endeavor by fast-food brands to reach potential customers where
The Food Institute investigated how the strategy works and why brands
are entering this digital space.
What is the Metaverse?
metaverse is a term used to describe a virtual environment in which people can
use digital avatars to work, play, or shop, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal (April 5).
Wendy's recently revealed it was teaming up with Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality game
from Meta, to open the Wendyverse.
Visitors can't buy food there, but they can play a basketball-themed game
located near the digital restaurant.
Chipotle has launched a somewhat similar initiative.
see our investment in the metaverse as an opportunity to create immersive
experiences with our community," Tressie Lieberman, VP, digital and off-premise
at Chipotle, told The Food Institute.
Chains' Main Motivation
full vision of the metaverse may be years away, but brands should start
experimenting on what their metaverse presence will be now," said Vishal Shah,
Meta's vice president of metaverse, in a press release.
plans to introduce a game and new virtual restaurant in Roblox, an online game platform
and storefront, which emulates the company's original location in Denver. The
first 100,000 Roblox players to successfully roll a burrito in the game will
earn Burrito Bucks which can be exchanged for an entrée code that can be used
at a real-life Chipotle location.
tapped into play-to-earn, an emerging engagement model in the metaverse, to
launch our newest experience on Roblox," said Chief Marketing Officer Chris
Brandt, in a statement.
loyalty program members can also trade in reward points for Roblox gift cards.
The company will also make a burrito available for ordering in its app that includes
ingredients voted on by Roblox users and others in a Twitter poll.
What're the Biggest Benefits?
are several reasons food brands are entering the digital world.
that we've established our presence on Roblox, we're excited to continue
activating on the platform and providing real value for Roblox users,"
Chipotle's Lieberman said. "Our presence on Roblox allows us to engage with our
Gen Z fans who are spending a lot of time on the platform."
to the launch of the Chipotle Boorito Maze last October, the chain noticed many
users on the application were already creating Chipotle-themed experiences in
virtual restaurants, making it a natural fit.
Wendy's, entering the metaverse is another way of digitally connecting with
consumers. The fast-food brand is already known for its social media presence,
particularly on Twitter.
years we've been meeting our fans in unexpected ways and places with our unique
approach to social media, gaming and engagement," said Wendy's Chief Marketing
Officer Carl Loredo, in a press release.
will track engagement metrics, such as how many people visit the virtual
restaurant or post about it on social media, to gauge success, Loredo told The
Wall Street Journal. Food Institute Focus
As Masks Come Off, Restaurant Industry Outlook Tempered by Labor
masks coming off, restaurants are bracing for a surge in business, evidenced by
increased job postings for servers, bartenders and a host of other rolls,
reports PeopleReady, an on-demand labor
company. Unfortunately, many of the workers who filled these jobs before the
pandemic have moved on to other careers, seeking more stability, higher pay and
the rise of food delivery services and remote jobs, I think that all the people
that were in the restaurant business just for the money, once presented the
opportunity to change, decided to grab it immediately," Michael Cook, a former
chef who has moved on to blogging at MyConsciousEating.com, told The Food
Institute. "Working in the food industry is very stressful, time consuming,
and the pay, as I have seen personally, is not really that high, even in the
said some restaurant job postings have seen the highest increases ever since
and hostesses up 23%
workers up 17%
workers up 15%
industries like the restaurant industry continue their recovery, the demand for
workers to help will only increase," said Taryn Owen, president and chief
operating officer of PeopleReady and PeopleScout. "Rebounding amid the current staffing shortage
is a significant barrier for many businesses, and staffing firms are proving a
vital partner through this challenging time."
Smiley, founder of Crisp & Green, said calling the situation a "staffing
shortage" is misleading.
a fictitious storyline for the McDonald's of the world, for these tired, legacy brands
that are trying to keep people working there when those brands, for decades,
have failed to advance the working conditions to live up to today's employees'
expectations," Smiley said.
have indicated people are turning away from the restaurant business, not only
because of low pay and unstable schedules, but due to an increase in the rudeness
of customers. Nearly a quarter of people who left their jobs last year worked
in the hotel and restaurant industries.
Diaz, co-founder of Broadband Search, said in an email that people like the freedom
they've gained from the gig worker economy.
the restaurant industry needs to do is to rework their policies so that they become
more attractive to new workers or those returning," Diaz said.
owners must find a way to make their business less stressful for their workers
while balancing a customer centric approach as well. While customers are
important to any operation, if you have no workers to help you run it, you have
no business either way."
piece of the puzzle, said Sean Behr, CEO of the technology company Fountain, which provides
fast-hire solutions, said the hiring process itself may be to blame.
need to reduce your time-to-hire from weeks to days — even to hours," Behr
said. "If you take too long, there's a good chance your job candidate will go
elsewhere." Food Institute Focus
Why Food Brands Should be Targeting Gamers
are proving to be an influential demographic in the food industry.
fact, research from Wunderman Thompson Commerce's Future Shopper Report 2021
shows that globally, 84% of online shoppers are gamers.
this in mind, The Food Institute explored what makes gamers such an
influential purchase group and how brands should be targeting them:
Why are Gamers So Influential?
makes gamers so interesting is that there are so many of them," Naji El-Arifi, head
of innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, told The Food Institute.
Thompson studied gamers in its Gaming Commerce report and found that 55%
of those surveyed said that gaming was an integral part of their lives, with
51% having spent money on in-game items.
key stats included:
of gamers are more likely to buy from a brand that features in their favorite
of gamers have bought something that their favorite streamer has recommended or
of gamers have discovered new brands while gaming
noted that gaming has always had a close relationship with food and drink, with
massive sponsorships of events and streamers "happening all the time."
What Strategies Should Brands Use?
report also found that 49% of gamers wish their favorite brands were in their
games so they could purchase them for their avatar, a personalized character that
represents the user in games.
data clearly shows us that, if this is how people feel now, before the eventual
arrival of the metaverse, we can only expect these numbers to keep rising,"
said El-Arifi. "Which means brands need to start treating gaming as another
channel that they can use to create experiences for their customer."
added that brands should be experimenting with technology and talking to gaming
companies to put plans in place for the future.
example, brands need to get better at creating 3D models of their products that
can be used across augmented reality, virtual reality, and gaming," added
El-Airfi. "It only stands to reason, that in time, we will be able to order our
meals directly from inside a game and have it delivered to us."
Brands Ahead of the Game
big players in the food industry have already begun implementing marketing
strategies around gamers:
Kellogg Company: Kellogg's Pringles brand brought a video game zombie to life in a Twitch livestream in Europe. The
livestream featured "Frank the Gaming Zombie," a game character in the West
of Dead video game.
are laser focused on understanding [gamer] behaviors and the role that culture
can play in attracting and engaging them with our brands," Charisse Hughes, chief
brand & advanced analytics officer, at the Kellogg Company, told The
Food Institute. "Our data indicated that we could use gaming to engage the
Gen Z audience, who over-index on snacking and also spend ample time on social
interact with gamers, Frank took over the Twitter accounts of Pringles in the
U.K. The campaign was one of the most talked about with 640K impressions and
drove a 25% increase in Pringles sales.
Chipotle: Chipotle launched its gamer strategy in 2019 to connect with
Gen Z consumers, CSP Daily News noted. The brand has taken part in
in-person gaming events and has partnered with well-known gamers, in addition
to establishing itself on platforms like Fortnite and Twitch.
Hellmann's: In December 2020, Hellmann's launched its own interactive
island within Nintendo's Animal Crossing: New Horizons, reported The Grocer.
Wingstop: Wingstop released a commercial promoting its boneless wings
that used the "boneless dance" popularized by Fortnite, an online battle royale
game. Food Institute Focus
Hortons has secured
a deal to add 300 locations in India over the next decade, reported Yahoo.com
(March 15). Full Story
is bringing back
Szechuan Sauce nationwide, exclusively on the McDonald's app. Full Story
McDonald's McPlant burger test appears to be off to a tepid start, with poor
reception by many consumers, reported Seeking Alpha (March 23). Full Story
McDonald's shareholders will vote this spring on whether or not the company
should conduct a civil-rights audit. The restaurant chain had previously asked
the SEC to let it omit the proposal from its annual proxy, saying it
would interfere with lawsuits brought by Black franchisees and employees,
reported Bloomberg (April 6). Full Story
Colony Corp. said it
reached an agreement with Arby's Restaurant Group Inc. to be the sole
supplier of its sauce and sauce products to U.S. and Canadian retailers,
reported MarketWatch (Mach 21). Full Story
Brands International has
pledged to phase out its use of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl)
chemicals in food packaging, reported The Washington Post (March 23). Full Story
Queen is expanding
its burger offerings with five burger flavors for U.S. customers, reported CNBC
(March 29). Full Story
Mexican Grill is
relaunching Guac Mode, an exclusive benefit for Chipotle Rewards members. Full Story
Krystal plans to open its first franchise in
Puerto Rico. Full Story
Grill continues its
California expansion with 13-store development deal. Full Story
Taco Bell and Sweetgreen are among the
latest chains to introduce or test subscription programs, betting that
consumers will be interested in the chance to pay upfront for a taco a day or a
discounted salad, reported The Wall Street Journal (March 30). Full Story
Papa John's entered a major refranchising
agreement with Sun Holdings, in which Sun Holdings has assumed control
of 90 Papa John's restaurants in Texas, reported Meat + Poultry. Full Story
Guys is further expanding its California
presence by opening its newest location in San Carlos. Full Story
Bowls is looking to continue its rapid national
expansion and have 50 locations open by the end of 2022.Full Story
The latest push by Donatos to expand in Florida
includes a 3-store deal in Fort Myers with Herwig Enterprises, with the first
location slated to open later in 2022. Full Story
Barrel virtual brand
Chicken n' Biscuits will now offer a new, exclusive Homestyle Chicken
Sandwich at 400 locations nationwide via DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub.
Bread is piloting Miso
Robotics' new automated coffee brewing system as it doubles down on its
drink subscription program. It's part of a broader shift across the restaurant
industry toward automation as many eateries struggle to find workers and labor
costs rise, reported CNBC. Full Story
on the Move:
Chicken promoted Tom
Gerdes to vice president of operations. Full Story
announced the hiring
of Sam Patterson as chief financial officer. Full Story
Lobster CEO Kelli
Valade is leaving the seafood chain after less than a year and gave no reason
for her departure, reported Restaurant Business (April 4). Full Story
John Miller is
retiring from the family-dining chain after more than a decade in charge,
reported Restaurant Business (April 8). Full Story
SUPPLY CHAIN NEWS
Deliveries to Take Flight by 2025 – at Steep Cost
may not have George Jetson's flying car quite yet, but we're likely to get drone
deliveries soon if Amazon and Chili's have their way.
has been talking up drone delivery for at least six years while Chili's is
promoting the idea of delivering items like milkshakes to customers within five
that five-minute window realistic?
if your house is next door to the restaurant," robopsychologist Tim Lynch,
president of Psychsoftpc, told The Food Institute. "While drones can take a
direct route to a destination and avoid streets and turns needed by cars, they
don't instantly appear at the destination. Delivery time will be shorter than a
person in a car, but it will still take time."
Leslie, a senior sales engineer for Anra Technologies, developer of the
SmartSkies Mission Manager drone operations solution, added that battery power may
also be an issue, as well as the need to gain approval for beyond visual line
of sight drone operations.
2019, Amazon unveiled a drone that can fly 15 miles and deliver packages of
less than five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes. The device can take
off and land like a helicopter and is designed aerodynamically, like an
airplane, the company said.
Business Insider (April 7) reported that
leaked company documents indicate Amazon is planning to deliver one million
packages through its Prime Air service by 2025 at a cost of $63 per package,
compared to $5.50 per package for its current delivery methods.
plans to roll out the service to 1,300 shoppers in Lockeford, California, and
College Station, Texas, this fall, the Insider reported. Everything from beauty
products to pharmaceuticals will be available. The company hopes for 12,000
test flights before Jan. 1 to enable it to obtain approval from the Federal Aviation
Granbury, Texas, Israeli startup Flytrex is delivering milkshakes to people's backyards
following a successful pilot program in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Retail Brew reported (March 31). The
company also began testing drone delivery in North Carolina with Walmart and has FAA approval for
deliveries to more than 2,000 homes.
FedEx is testing a hybrid-electric drone from Elroy Air that can go about 300
miles. The craft has a wingspan of 28 feet and can take off vertically. Retail
Brew reported the company envisions shuttling packages as heavy as 500
pounds between sorting hubs.
which began testing drone delivery in 2015, is also working with Zipline in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, The Verge reported (Nov. 18). The
service covers a 50-mile radius, with the retail giant hoping to use drones to
eliminate gaps in its delivery network.
The Food Institute asked tech experts how they expect the nascent
delivery method to develop in the next five years.
said he expects drone traffic to be monitored by ground control stations and
the aircraft themselves will be equipped with collision avoidance systems.
he said, is just an afterthought.
delivery will be most useful for hospital, emergency services and industries
that rely on helicopter services like oil and gas and renewables offshore. This
will be especially beneficial in difficult-to-reach areas that are not easily
accessible by traditional methods of transportation," he said.
Moses, head of the grocery, pharmacy and restaurants group at investment bank
Solomon Partners, said he sees drone delivery becoming "part of the rapidly evolving
online grocery tapestry in the next few years. Amazon, Walmart and Kroger have
all made material investments in the technology." Food Institute Focus
Industry Bouncing Back After Omicron Blip
sales growth improved in the week ending March 27, with a four-week streak of
declining sales growth ending, according to Black Box Intelligence. Despite traffic
growth, it was the third week in a row featuring negative year-over-year
traffic growth. Dine-in sales were up across all industry segments. Full Story
the U.S. restaurant recovery got back on track in February after January
declines, according to The NPD Group. Online and physical restaurant
traffic was up 2%, and consumer spending was up 8% in February compared to a
year ago. Full Story
reported fiscal third-quarter net income of $247 million. The Orlando,
Florida-based company said it had profit of $1.93 per share, falling short of
Wall Street expectations, reported CBS News (March 23). Full Story
Bros. Coffee raised
its growth targets for 2022, projecting that the drive-thru chain will expand
23% by adding 125 stores. The company said it expects to focus its growth on
Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Southern California, reported The Street
(March 29). Full Story
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