Celebrate with Us on the Eve of the 2023 National Restaurant Show in Chicago - May 19 @ 5:00 pm!

RSVP to Save Your Spot at DMA's Invite-Only Celebration!

We are back on the rooftop!

We've expanded the footprint at the Old Post Office to ensure we have both the indoor and rooftop spaces available and expect more then 500 attendees. This event is a one-of-a-kind chance to network and celebrate chains in Chicago on the eve of the National Restaurant Show. View 2022's highlight video here to see what it's all about!

  • Reconnect with your peers from great operators all over the country.
  • Meet the leadership of DMA member distributors.
  • Celebrate safely at a unique rooftop venue - the refurbished Old Post Office!

With Norovirus Cases Rising, New Research Looks at Surface Sanitizers

While norovirus outbreaks were at historic lows during the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus swiftly re-emerged in spring 2022. The #1 cause of foodborne illness is spreading again and is a significant concern for those who purchase surface sanitizing products or run food safety programs. Even though surface sanitizers are essential to kill norovirus, to date few studies have tested them against actual human norovirus. Instead, many studies rely on data from surrogate virus tests, which have left some knowledge gaps. So, our scientists teamed up with North Carolina State University researchers to study the efficacy of various classes of no-rinse food-contact surface sanitizers. What did they find? Not all surface sanitizer formulations are equal-and one type of chemistry had superior efficacy compared to the rest.

Read the Blog


‘Tipflation' Leaving Consumers Confounded

To tip or not to tip?

Ultimately, it's up to the consumer, but let's be honest, society judges bad tippers. However, in this economy, shelling out extra cash, however well-warranted, is becoming more and more difficult for many consumers.

A recent survey from Popmenu shows consumers are tipping less than they were even one year ago. Forty-three percent of consumers said they tip their servers at least 20% of the check, down from 56% of consumers last year. Similarly, 32% of people reported tipping delivery workers 20% of their order, down from 38% a year ago.

"Restaurants have overcome a myriad of challenges over the past two years and inflation is the latest uphill battle the industry faces. With rising costs, we're seeing consumers cut back on how much they tip restaurants for takeout and delivery orders," Krystle Mobayeni, co-founder of BentoBox and head of restaurants at Fiserv, told The Food Institute.

Tipping Today

For many in the hospitality industry, tipping is where the money is. Many restaurants have a low hourly wage with the expectation that tips will increase this. This model works for some, especially when the economy is booming and people are feeling generous, but even the best server can suffer when someone leaves a bad tip.

When COVID hit, there was a push to help small businesses, and many were leaving extremely generous tips to show support. That trend has slowed and with consumers feeling financial stress everywhere they turn, large tips just aren't happening like they used to.

"During the pandemic, customers wanted to support those who live off their tips by increasing their typical 15-20% tip. It made staff feel appreciated in an extremely dark time," said Bob Vergidis, chief visionary officer of

"However, as we see inflation continue to rise, customers are becoming more aware of this innate feeling to save. If businesses do not change their tipping etiquette, they will lose customers."

Do I Really Need to Tip for That?

It's an easy decision to tip a friendly server at your favorite restaurant. The barista at the Starbucks drive-thru that hands you your overpriced coffee? Not so much.

Starbucks and a number of other businesses now offer prompts when inserting a credit card that asks what type of tip you would like to leave. Yes, there's always a "no tip" option, but many consumers feel somewhat pressured to tip in those situations.

Starbucks recently implemented this system at the checkout and in the drive thru, and customers and even many employees don't like it. This type of practice can actually drive away customers, some say.

"Overburdening people with tipping prompts as costs for goods and services rise can lead to lost sales," Vergidis says.

"In the restaurant industry, we're seeing more and more customers choosing take-out instead of dining in or delivery to avoid tipping. Inflation has made people very aware of rising costs and they're becoming more guarded with how and what they spend their money on."

The Next Step

So, what's the answer? It's tricky. Many count on tips as a way to make a living, but many consumers are unable to tip because of inflation and rising costs. Many consumers have cut back on going out, but this means that hospitality workers are getting no tips rather than small tips.

"Businesses should be extremely strategic during this time. Avoid using standard tipping prompts, just because there is a default option in many point-of-sale systems doesn't mean you have to use it," Vergidis says. "Customers can feel pressured to tip in an establishment where it typically wouldn't be required and that is driving business away.

"Businesses should consider providing staff with a raise and do away with the tipping incentive. Lower the cost of goods where you can without losing the quality of goods and services and focus on the total cost to the customer." Food Institute Focus

Experts Predict Asian Food Boom in 2023

To hear experts tell it, an Asian food boom has begun in America.

During The Food Institute webinar – "What's Ahead in 2023?" – Solomon Choi, CEO of Jabba Brands, noted that internationally-inspired hard seltzers and hot dogs are gaining momentum in the U.S.

"You're going to start seeing a lot of crossover between something that was traditionally American, (like) fried chicken, being influenced with ethnic flavors," Choi said. "Even something like South Korean fried chicken is starting to become its own subcategory within fried chicken.

"We're now seeing a lot more awareness, and a desire, to take what's been done and do it in a different way. ... I think you're going to start seeing a lot more of these types of things," Choi added, alluding to Asian-fusion cuisine.

Self-Help Products Bound for Big Year

Vodka, tequila, and cannabis-infused foods all rose in popularity earlier in the pandemic. Now, it could be time for self-help products like non-alcoholic wines to shine.

According to consumer trends expert Robyn Carter, the CEO of Jump Rope Innovation, many modern consumers are looking for products that will help them self-soothe while remaining sober.

"During stressful times consumers historically have turned to any number of vices to help them calm their nerves," Carter said. "But a lot of those things ... have negative effects."

Consumers are increasingly seeking opportunities to enhance their mood, focus, social skills, or sleep. But instead of turning to traditional alcohol, for example, many consumers now seek products with adaptogens or other ingredients that help them "put something good back in their bodies," Carter said.

She noted how Boisson – a chain of non-alcoholic liquor stores around New York City – has become rather popular.

"Beverages are usually the first way in, and I think we'll be seeing more of this in snacks as well – you know, particularly a lot of things with mushrooms and other adaptogens that help consumers manage stress [or] just help them maintain an even state of mind," Carter said.

Some Optimism Ahead of The New Year

Mike Kostyo, associate director and trendologist with Datassential, spoke at length about the high prices that continue to impact the food industry. Yet he concluded his presentation by noting the optimism that largely persists among consumers and business owners like restaurateurs.

Kostyo cited this bit of recent research as proof: roughly three quarters of operators say they feel positive about their business heading into 2023. He said consumer sentiment findings were very similar.

"For the most part, operators and consumers feel pretty positive about the year ahead," added Kostyo, a past judge on Food Network's Eating America. "I think there's a lot of opportunity for growth and success in 2023." Food Institute Focus

Trials Show Workers Love Condensed Workweeks

Restaurant owners are following the corporate world's lead in having employees test the four-day workweek – but a south Florida Chick-fil-A owner has gone further by having employees in his fast-food establishment work 13 to 14-hour days, amounting to a three-day workweek.

The employees of Justin Lindsey's Chick-fil-A in Kendall work 40 hours in three days, reported.

"They can plan their life around it – vacation, childcare, school. I wanted them to be able to look out six months from now and know what days they were going to work," said Lindsey, 42.

Lindsey said his workers were surprised they wouldn't be "on call" during their days off to come in at short notice if the restaurant is understaffed, a practice that's common at QSRs and among large retailers. He acknowledged that the longer shifts required some adjustment, but since most of his employees who worked three days per week already were accustomed to long days, the additional time was manageable.

The website reported Lindsey is months into the experiment, which he conceptualized last winter, and he reports the plan is going better than expected.

"For [workers] it's great because they know what the schedule is, and for us it's great because we can stretch the shift to cover all our peaks during the day" Lindsey said.

A MarketWatch article from earlier this week noted that one study shows abbreviated workweeks can reduce worker stress. Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A now has multiple franchisees who are intrigued by Lindsey's condensed workweek schedule, reported.

Lindsey has reportedly been deluged with applications since he posted open jobs. The restaurant received almost 430 applications in one week. Lindsey pays $15 to $17 per hour and provides health benefits.

Lindsey's restaurant was predicted to earn $17 million in sales this year, which is more than double the $8 million per year average for a single location, restaurant trade publication QSR reported.

Thanks ‘Four' Your Work

Fast-casual chain Dig, with locations in New York and Philadelphia, has recently utilized a four-day workweek, reported Fast Company.

Dig's four-day work week experiment involves giving hourly kitchen staff the option to work full-time hours in four days per week. The chain started exploring the idea of the abbreviated week as the concept started to trend prior to the pandemic. When COVID-19 temporarily closed some of Dig's restaurants while putting its workers at risk, Dig experimented with the schedule change.

Dig cofounder Andrew Jacobson told Fast Company, "The disparity between people who still had employment and were working from home versus our employees, who were still going into the restaurant, just became more and more evident. And though we couldn't necessarily change that, we had an opportunity in Boston."

The Boston team had five restaurants before the pandemic, but only one was still open, so it was an opportune moment to experiment with a new schedule. Workers were given the chance to work one fewer day per week, if they chose, but continue to work the same number of hours, the website reported.

To keep the same number of hours, Dig's workers who opted to change to the four-day week had to work 10-hour days, which worked out well because the chain's food needs a lot of preparation. Dig's survey of 45 participants showed 87% of employees recommend the schedule changes, citing greater work-life balance.

"Childcare is a major challenge for workers in the restaurant industry," Melinda Sharretts, vice president of people and culture at Dig told Fast Company. "And if the new schedule can help alleviate that, it may convince other restaurants to start offering the same benefit."

"We want not only to put pressure on ourselves to get this done, but also to pressure the rest of the industry," Jacobson said.

Unilever's Unique Scheduling

Another experiment involving a four-day-per-week work schedule was a pilot conducted from December 2020 to June 2022 by global corporation Unilever in New Zealand, the Guardian reported.

Unilever, which makes products such as Magnum ice cream, said in early November it would continue the New Zealand trial and implement it in Australia for an initial 12 months.

According to The Guardian, Unilever said that employee absenteeism dropped 34%, and the staff in the trial reported a 33% drop in stress. Meanwhile, there was a reported decrease in work-life conflict of 67%, employees received 100% of their wages, and there were strong results in meeting business goals. Food Institute Focus

Store News:

· Get ready to see significantly more Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC locations. Yum! Brands said they believe there's enough white space for the company to add 100,000 global restaurants to the 54,000 locations its chains already operate, reported Restaurant Business (Dec. 14). Full Story

· Meanwhile, Yum! Brands' future is 100% digital sales. That's what Christopher L. Turner, CFO, said on investors day on Dec. 13 about the global food giant's future. Right now, digital sales account for 40% of sales, reported Food Business News (Dec. 15). Full Story

· Additionally, Pizza Hut is changing its business model to attract younger customers and the plan seems to be working. Smaller, less pricey products such as the Melts are attracting Gen Z and Gen Alpha, reported Restaurant Business Online (Dec. 15). Full Story

· Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it teamed up with The Farmlink Project to help donate more than 10 million pounds of produce to food banks this winter. Full Story

· McDonald's is going solar. The fast-food giant and its logistics providers have signed a deal with Enel North America to purchase renewable energy certificates to support 100% of its energy needs in the U.S. supply chain, reported Restaurant Business Online (Dec. 15). Full Story

· Olive Garden's never-ending pasta bowl is back and attracting customers. Amid inflation and the holiday season, sales and foot traffic have received a huge boost since the promotion returned, reported Restaurant Business Online (Dec. 16). Full Story

· Restaurant franchise Freshii is set to be acquired by Canadian franchisor Foodtastic for $74.4 million. The all-cash transaction delivers immediate liquidity to Freshii's shareholders, the parties noted on Monday, reported Restaurant Business Online (Dec. 19). Full Story

· Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons is abandoning plastic cutlery. Wooden and fiber cutlery will debut in 2023 along with other sustainable initiatives to reduce waste, reported Restaurant Business Online (Dec. 20). Full Story

· Starbucks has launched a blockchain-based loyalty program and NFT community, Starbucks Odyssey, to its first group of U.S. beta testers. The new initiative, which includes coffee-themed NFTs that translate to real-world experiences, is an extension of Starbucks' existing loyalty program, but leverages web3 technology like the polygon blockchain and NFTs, reported TechCrunch (Dec. 8). Full Story

· Potbelly plans to rapidly expand its digital kitchen program, citing improved order accuracy and reduced labor costs. CEO Bob Wright outlined his plans to reach 2,000 units and re-ignite franchise growth, reported Restaurant Business Online (Jan. 9). Full Story

· Del Taco will add AI voice bots to its drive-thrus. The 600-unit Tex-Mex chain said technology from Presto has exceeded its expectations and has completed over 95% of orders without human intervention, signaling a broad step forward for automated fast food commerce, reported Restaurant Business Online (Jan. 10). Full Story

· Denny's new CEO, Kelli Valade, is doubling down on employee mental health benefits. Valade said that in addition to opening more units, one of her primary goals is to nurture the culture at Denny's as the brand evolves and help restaurant workers deal with the demands of the work, reported Restaurant Business Online (Jan. 10). Full Story

· In-N-Out is set to open its first East Coast territory office in Tennessee. The fast-food chain will start opening restaurants in the state in 2026, potentially growing east of the Mississippi River, reported Restaurant Business (Jan. 10). Full Story

· Subway is exploring a potential sale that could value the sandwich chain at more than $10 billion. With 37,000 locations in more than 100 different countries, Subway has long been a potential target for private equity firms and other corporations. The sale is still in its early stages and not yet public information, reported Bloomberg (Jan. 11). Full Story

· Wendy's Co. will revamp its operations as consumers are seeking deals when spending with the company. U.S. CFO Leigh Burnside and U.S. president and chief commercial officer Kurt Kane will depart the organization, and the company will determine further organizational changes in the next 45 days to help reduce costs, reported The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 13). Full Story

· Modern Restaurant Concepts has named John Cywinski its CEO. The former president of Applebee's has taken the helm of the Los Angeles-based parent company of Qdoba, Lemonade and Modern Market Eatery. Full Story

· Jack in the Box pledged to give pregnant sows in its supply chain more space after pressure from an investor for more humane treatment. Green Century Capital Management, which owns shares of the fast-food chain, has called on suppliers to stop keeping pregnant sows in individual pens, reported Bloomberg (Jan. 17). Full Story

Executives on the Move:

· KFC named Ben Dubost as chief development officer and Kate Ward as chief legal officer, reported Restaurant Business Online (Dec. 19). Full Story

· Blaze Pizza has named Beto Guajardo as its new CEO. Guajardo had previously served as president of Focus Brands. Full Story

· Burger King has named Patrick O'Toole as its new CMO, effective February 6. O'Toole recently served as the CMO for Mountain Dew, reported The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 10). Full Story

From P&G Professional:
Dawn Professional Multi-Surface Heavy Duty Degreaser

With Dawn Professional Multi-Surface Heavy Duty Degreaser, you can clean your commercial kitchen with 50% less scrubbing compared to a leading professional degreaser. This degreaser cuts tough grease on food contact surfaces, stainless steel, range hoods, ovens, walls, drive-thru pads and parking lots, delivering a sparkling clean that will impress even the toughest critics. Available in concentrate and ready-to-use. Learn more at


Analyst: U.S. Egg Industry in ‘Unprecedented Times'

The U.S. egg industry is in "unprecedented times" as the threat of avian influenza continues to impact prices and availability.

That's according to Eggs Unlimited Global Trade Strategist Brian Moscogiuri, who told The Food Institute that the U.S. egg-laying sector had lost more production in 2022 than 2015, when avian influenza ravaged markets across the country.

What's different in 2022 is that the virus remained a threat through the fall and winter, whereas the virus only impacted flocks for one season in 2015.

"Given what we have seen in Asia and Europe over the last few years, most believe [avian flu] will be a factor well into 2023," Moscogiuri said.

The industry remains on high alert and has done what they can to reduce risk, but there is really no silver bullet to stop the virus at this time given its prevalence in migratory and wild birds."

Impact of Avian Flu in 2022

Moscogiuri noted that the egg industry had lost over 42 million egg-laying chickens since February 2022, and although many of the earliest-hit flocks had begun repopulation efforts, 13 million layers had been lost since September.

Karyn Rispoli, an analyst with Urner Barry and editor of Egg Price Current, expanded on this topic by taking a look at the overall egg-laying flock over the last year.

"USDA data shows that at the onset last February, the national table-layer flock stood at 322 million. By May, that number shrank to 299 million, marking the first time that production levels have dipped below 300 million since 2015, during the last bird flu outbreak," she noted. "By November, repopulation efforts had pushed the layer count back up to 309 million – well shy of normal, of course, but certainly a step in the right direction."

But then, Rispoli added, there was another crop of outbreaks, which dropped that figure back to about 304 million. The average December flock number over the past six years was 326 million.

Elevated Prices Spill Over into New Year

Egg prices saw nine weeks of consecutive growth in the period leading up to December 25, reaching a record high of $5.46 per dozen for large eggs in the Midwest, the industry's benchmark egg quotation, Rispoli said.

"As we start the New Year, the market is undergoing a correction – again quite common for January, as retail demand subsides," she noted. "But, given the heights from which we are adjusting, the declines have been rather precipitous. Over the past two weeks, prices have plummeted $1.13/dozen, or 20.7% (as of January 10). And based on negotiated trade values in the spot market, there's still quite a bit of adjusting that needs to take place."

Kevin Bergquist, Wells Fargo Sector Manager, Food and Agribusiness Industry Advisors, said consumers might not necessarily see or feel the decreases.

"Egg prices week-to-week may decrease somewhat until the Easter season, but will still look relatively high to consumers," he told The Food Institute.

"Although eggs are decidedly more costly at this time, eggs typically remain an affordable protein for the consumer. It's definitely a sticker-shock to see $5.00 per dozen egg prices, but this has been a relatively short-term phenomena thus far," he added.

Impacts to Continue into 2023

How will the egg market fare in 2023? While no one has a crystal ball, the three analysts did provide a bit of insight into how the coming year could play out:

· Rispoli: "It's hard to imagine that we'll see an extended period of stability or normality until the bird flu has been stamped out. In the past, these viruses have died off with the arrival of warmer temperatures, but this particular strain appears to be interminable. It's been spreading in Europe for roughly two years now, and February marks one year since the first detection here in the US."

· Bergquist: "USDA is researching a vaccination for [highly pathogenic avian influenza], but this is not yet approved, and will have no impact on the immediate HPAI outbreak. Moreover, like flu in humans, there are many different strains of HPAI viruses, and thus a vaccine for one strain may be less effective on another strain."

· Moscogiuri: "Producers are dealing with other inflationary factors. Labor markets, interest rates, feed prices, oil, packaging, and supply-chain issues are just some of the issues producers are facing. We would likely be seeing higher costs regardless of avian influenza, but these factors coupled with the bird losses have created a truly historic market. Ultimately, we believe things will normalize, but it is hard to predict when we will see retailers running ninety-nine cent ads again given the uncertainty around avian influenza in 2023."

Read the full story: Food Institute Focus

Tork Hygiene Portfolio Expands with Everwipe Wiping Solutions As the maker of the global leading professional hygiene brand, Tork, Essity is committed to offering customers a full suite of innovative sustainable hygiene products and services.

The recent acquisition of Legacy Converting, Inc, a U.S.-based cleaning and wiping company and manufacturer of the best-in-class, EPA-regulated Everwipe brand of disinfecting and wiping products, now strengthens their expertise and offering. Eleven new wiping products have been added to Essity’s full assortment of solutions and include wet wipes and Chem-Ready systems.

To learn more about the Everwipe™ solutions, click below, visit, and contact your local Essity Representative.


Despite November Slow-down, Optimism Seen for Future of Foodservice

Same-store sales growth dropped 3.4% in November 2022 when compared to the prior year, with the sales growth the lowest posted by the industry since July 2022, according to Black Box Intelligence. Additionally, traffic was down 4.3% during the month. Full Story

A new State of Restaurants report from TouchBistro revealed that sales volumes have recovered to 75% of pre-pandemic levels. About three out of every five operators reported that their sales volume has returned to at least 50% of pre-pandemic levels. Full Story

The U.S. foodservice market is set to grow by $269.04 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 6.14%. To survive amid a tense, competitive market, it'll be imperative for vendors to differentiate their products, according to Technavio. Full Story

For regional chains looking to grow quickly and selectively across the US, DMA Offers the one national network that can be customized specifically to your needs to serve your long term expansion plans.

DMA Delivers

Newsletter Email Sign-Up