DMA Welcomes Angela Korompilas as Incoming President and CEO!

With nearly 30 years of experience in global sales & distribution, hospitality, and family business, Angela previously served as Chief Executive Officer of American Hotel Register, a privately held, $1B supplier of operating supplies and equipment (OSE), servicing customers in more than 170 countries around the world. Angela was responsible for the strategic vision, growth, and leadership of the company and led it through the sale process, transitioning it from a 3rd/4th generation family-owned business into a private equity backed platform company.

Angela is an active member of the Chicago Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), the Kellogg Executive Women's Network, and The Chicago Network (TCN). She is a mentor to several entrepreneurs through the Next Level Exchange and serves as a Board advisor to Trinity Packaging Supply and H&A Farms. Previously, Angela served on the advisory boards of Avendra and Inteplast and was a Director for International Hotel Supply and the Chicago Botanic Garden. A Chicago native, Angela is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management Executive Education program.


Teens' Top 5 Restaurant Chains

Teens are trendsetters. They are typically early to the next big thing and most of their spending is discretionary, making them a lucrative demographic to study.

That's why it's important to know which restaurant chains the teens are currently vibing with, as the most lit concepts will likely continue to slay—no cap. Or, in other words, teens' favorite chains could serve as a valuable indicator of broad appeal and staying power.

Luckily, Piper Sandler recently published its 46th semi-annual survey of nearly 9,200 U.S. teens aged 19 and under, called Taking Stock With Teens.

Here are teens' top five favorite restaurant chains, based on the report:

1) Chick-fil-A (16%)

Chick-fil-A reigns supreme among the teens once again, holding on to the top spot for the fifth survey in a row and capturing 16% of their "mindshare."

It's no surprise that Chick-fil-A is the GOAT (that's "greatest of all time" in young people speak), as the brand is the highest-grossing fast-food chain in the U.S. With only 2,837 stores—roughly a quarter of the footprint McDonald's has—Chick-fil-A generated $18.8 billion in U.S. systemwide sales last year.

2) Starbucks (13%)

Teens are chronically online, and Starbucks has faced unprecedented demand over the last several years fueled by digital growth. In 2022, the ubiquitous coffee giant opened more locations than any other restaurant in the U.S.—a net of 429 total. Starbucks has 13% mindshare among all teens, gaining slightly among upper-income teens, and pointing to a strong grasp on teen consumer trends.

3) McDonald's (9%)

McDonald's traded places with Chipotle for the number three position, shuffling the Mexican Grill down to number four. The golden arches captured 9% mindshare among all teens and continues to be the most preferred chain in the hamburger category. According to the report, McDonald's increased popularity among teens may reflect the potential recession— "especially when considering it gained share from Chipotle who raised prices 8% on average in 2022."

4) Chipotle (8%)

Although Chipotle dropped to the fourth spot among all teens with 8% mindshare, the brand remains in the number three position among upper-income teens. The dip in overall popularity could be linked to Chipotle's aforementioned price increases that took place over the last year, as teens are not immune to inflationary concerns. Case in point, 9% of teens cited inflation as their top social cause in the same survey.

5) Raising Cane's (3%)

This year marks Raising Cane's first appearance in the top five with 3% mindshare. The fast-casual chicken fingers chain bumped Dunkin' from the fifth spot, demonstrating the brand's expanding appeal. In fact, raising Cane's has tripled its systemwide sales over the last five years to become one of the fastest-growing chains in the U.S. Food Institute Focus

Peppermint Becomes Ubiquitous Flavor of the Season

Move over, pumpkin spice. It's time for peppermint to shine.

‘Tis the season to deck the halls and sprinkle a little peppermint in every item possible. The popular winter flavor is gaining momentum within the food industry. According to a recent article by Restaurant Business, almost 8% of restaurants have peppermint on their menus and talk about the flavor has increased over 20% since last year.

"We've seen several key café and restaurant customers pick up this seasonal favorite for the first time in 2023," Brian Loukmas, VP of innovation at Monin Americas, told Restaurant Business.

"Peppermint is projected to gain greater visibility ... on menus through 2027, as it easily adds a minty, festive, and delicious element to winter beverage and culinary recipes."

"In this post-covid era, consumers are seeking to enjoy a little more holiday spirit with friends and family, and peppermint has the nostalgic flavor cue that guests seek," Erin Buono, director of R&D at Jeremiah's Italian Ice, told The Food Institute.

Additionally, Gen Z is seeking out non-traditional combinations and peppermint delivers on high impact flavor that younger guests crave, Buono noted.

One of the most popular ways to incorporate peppermint is to add it to beverages. The following restaurants currently offer these peppermint options as drinks:

- Dutch Bros: The Candy Cane Trio and a Zero Sugar Added Peppermint Bark Mocha.

Tim Hortons: Peppermint Iced Cap

   -  Caribou Coffee: Ho Ho Mint Mocha Espresso Shaker

   -  Dunkin: Peppermint Mocha Signature Latte

   -  Starbucks: Peppermint Mocha

   -  Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii: Peppermint Beach Bliss Latte and a Peppermint Hot Chocolate

It's not just beverage chains, either. Fast-food giants Wendy's and Chick-fil-A are also hopping on the peppermint bandwagon with LTOs.

   - Wendy's: Peppermint Frosty

   - Chick-fil-A: Peppermint Chip Milkshake and two new coffees: Peppermint Bark Iced Coffee and Frosted Peppermint Chip Coffee

In the ice cream category, Haagen-Dazs has you covered with its Peppermint Bark dessert lineup.

Spicing Up Alcohol with Peppermint

Bars are also capitalizing on the holiday spirit. Peppermint usage has grown exponentially with the modern cocktail resurgence.

"As an ingredient that's fresh, aromatic, and familiar to most pallets, (peppermint's) utilization is universal during the right seasons," Jacob Satterlee, beverage manager at The Resort at Paws Up in Montana, told The Food Institute. "Creme de Menthe, Fernet-Menthe, Peppermint Schnapps, and the higher-end products like Goldschlager and Rumple Minze have made themselves staples on most bars' shelves."

Satterlee noted that the beverages the resort uses that feature peppermint are both hot and cold and tend to be chocolate or tea-based.

"In addition to the liquid peppermint options, using candy canes as garnishes or even grinding them into a coarse product for rimming drinks is also a wonderful application to introduce peppermint to a cocktail," Satterlee added. Food Institute Focus


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Analysis: Are Ghost Kitchens Getting ‘Ghosted'?

Ghost kitchens – restaurants without seating or even take-out counters – proliferated during the pandemic when people were virtually trapped in their homes, afraid to enter confined spaces packed by strangers and, as a result, ramped up online ordering.

Now, however, ghost kitchens appear to be fading from the landscape as life normalizes. The latest victim is Kitchen United, which closed its Kroger store locations, ending a partnership that began in August 2021 at the height of the pandemic and despite a group of investors that included Kroger, Circle K, and Burger King.

"The pandemic-induced shift in consumer dining behavior significantly increased the demand for delivery services, necessitating the rise of ghost kitchens as traditional dine-in options became less accessible," Taka Tanaka, CEO of AUTEC, told The Food Institute.

"With dine-in now back in full motion, patrons prefer on-premises dining, prompting ghost kitchen operators to adjust to this renewed demand."

Costs Remain a Major Issue

The cost of establishing and maintaining a network of ghost kitchens, equipped with the necessary food service equipment, can be substantial, noted Serena Grandi, CEO of foodservice equipment company Atosa.

"Additionally, the reliance on digital platforms for orders introduces a dependency on third-party delivery services, eating into profit margins," Grandi said.

Restaurant Business recently reported Kitchen United has decided to "pivot back into a software business," planning to shutter all of its MIX units. Earlier, CEO Atul Sood had said retail sites were its future.

"There is so much opportunity in retail and grocery," Sood told Restaurant Business. "We have tapped probably 5% to 10% of the opportunity that's out there."

Among the other ghost kitchen retrenchments: Wendy's ended its deal with Reef in May, CloudKitchens downsized in September, and in January, Wonder dumped its van-based ghost kitchen model, Restaurant Dive reported. Also revising plans were C3 and Butler Hospitality.

Nimbus took over Kitchen United's New York operations while ChefSuite took control of Kitchen United's facilities in Austin, Texas.

A Possible Path Forward?

Camilla Opperman, CEO and founder of Nimbus Kitchen, told The Food Institute there are key problems with ghost kitchens: exclusive focus on delivery operations, hasty geographic expansion and premature vertical integration.

"There are two key differentiators for Nimbus: our flexibility and our focus on community," Opperman said. "Members can cook in our kitchens for a few hours or a few years while our competitors only offer long-term rentals.

"Our flexible and diverse product offering allows us to target all kinds of food businesses across business sizes and maturities — including catering businesses, bakers, CPG brands, pop-up operators, delivery concepts, and more.

"Many operators begin as hourly members at Nimbus," Opperman added, "and have grown into longer-term dedicated customers or use additional Nimbus locations to help scale, meaning we can keep members in our co-cooking ecosystem for longer than the typical off-premises kitchens." Food Institute Focus

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Store News:

A large Wendy's franchisee recently declared bankruptcy as Florida-based Starboard Group sought debt protection for its locations. It's the latest in a series of restaurant companies to take that step, reported Restaurant Business (Nov. 14). Full Story

Meanwhile, Wendy's is expanding its AI-powered drive-thru pilot program, which was announced in May and is currently active in four company-operated locations. Franchisees will begin to test the software in 2024, which Wendy's claims can handle 86% of orders without intervention, reported Bloomberg (Dec. 11). Full Story

Olive Garden is selling its beloved cheese graters for $15 as well as a matching sweatshirt that reads, "Season's Gratings" for $47. Other themed apparel is also available online starting Nov. 20, reported Restaurant Business (Nov. 16). Full Story

Arby's debuted a Good Burger 2 Meal, an LTO tied to the release of the upcoming Good Burger 2 movie. The meal includes a Deluxe Wagyu Steakhouse Burger, a strawberry shake, and French fries, reported USA Today (Nov. 14). Full Story

Todd Graves, the founder of Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers, built an empire on chicken wings and is now worth over $7.6 billion and one of the world's 500 wealthiest people. Graves owns 51% of the business, recently opened a flagship store in Times Square after reporting $3.3 billion in sales for the 12 months ended in June, and remains "singularly focused on chicken finger meals," reported Bloomberg (Nov. 16). Full Story

Potbelly has signed a deal to expand in the Seattle area. The sandwich chain plans to refranchise nine corporate locations and add another 13 new franchised locations in Washington. Full Story

A Florida Chick-fil-A location is offering drone delivery service to local customers. Diners within a 1.2-mile radius of the central Florida store will have the option to receive spicy chicken sandwiches out of the sky, reported the New York Post (Nov. 19). Full Story

Taco Bell has launched Breakfast Tater Tots with scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage as an LTO at Chicago locations, reported (Nov. 15). Full Story

After three years of innovation and testing, Popeyes is adding chicken wings in five flavors to its permanent menu. Full Story

McDonald's has spent seven years revamping its burgers and buns to compete with higher-end fast casuals and the changes are now rolling out across the country. Patties will be cooked in smaller batches for more uniform sear; Big Macs will feature more special sauce; lettuce, cheese, and pickles will be fresher and meltier; buns will have a more buttery brioche. And the Hamburglar is returning, reported The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 30). Full Story

Meanwhile, McDonald's plans to open 10,000 new restaurants globally by 2027, with 7,000 stores planned in its international developmental licensed markets like China, India, Japan, and Brazil. The company plans to double sales from its loyalty program as it looks to expand its user base on the platform to 250 million customers by 2027, reported Reuters (Dec. 6). Full Story

Panera Bread has filed to go public once more. The company was last publicly traded in 2017 before JAB Holding bought the company for $7.5 billion in 2017. After signaling for months that it's interested in an IPO, Panera may follow Cava into the market; Panera founder Ron Shaich is one of Cava's chairs, reported CNBC (Dec. 1). Full Story

Crumbl is ditching the Cookie in its logo. The skyrocketing cookie chain has gone from 0 to almost 1,000 locations in six years and the new brand refresh and logo – black font against a soft pink background – is a "strategic move to stay current and connect with its audience," reported Restaurant Business (Nov. 29). Full Story

Domino's is regaining delivery customers and improving its profitability. Better operations, staffing, and higher prices are paying dividends as the pizza chain focuses on accelerating global growth, reported Restaurant Business (Dec. 8). Full Story

Waffle House has added digital order-and-pay capabilities. The 24-hour diner expects its first major investment in digital technology to bolster off-premise business as an app is scheduled to debut in early 2024, reported Restaurant Business (Dec. 13). Full Story


Bird Flu Roars Back, Disrupting Turkey Farms

Highly pathogenic avian influenza got off to a slow start in 2023, allowing egg production to rebound, but the fall migratory season has hit turkey farmers hard, CNN Business recently reported.

About 68 million birds have been killed since the outbreak began in the U.S. in February 2022. Cases are again beginning to tick up, with 2.8 million birds killed on Iowa farms in the past month and 1.3 million at an Ohio egg farm.

Before Thanksgiving, turkey prices were low because there was no major bird flu outbreak in the spring – but that changed at the start of the fall migratory season.

"Just since October, there's been 2.5 million or so [turkey] losses," Matt Busardo, poultry market reporter at Urner Barry, told CNN. He said most of those birds had been destined to become deli meat, so sandwiches are expected to cost more come spring.

Meanwhile, in other agriculture news:

Food Inflation: A Rabobank research report predicts food prices will ease next year, in part because consumer demand will remain weak.

Successive waves of drought, disease, and war have weighed on commodity prices in the last three years. But a more robust wheat crop and the El Niño effect on crops such as sugar, coffee, and cocoa are expected to dampen commodity prices around the world.

"A number of crops in varying locations can be adversely impacted by El Niño in the coming months, in particular Indonesian palm oil and Australian wheat," Rabobank said. "At the same time, there is potential for some crops to benefit, like those in southern Brazil, Argentina, and parts of the U.S."

COP28: The United Arab Emirates spearheaded a drive to get countries to curb factory farming at the COP28 conference in Dubai. The UAE recently urged countries to sign a "leaders' declaration" promising to align food production with emissions goals, Reuters noted.

A World Animal Protection analysis of 400 attribution studies found the global north is responsible for some $8 billion in extreme weather damage to Asia, Africa, and South America, and called for a 10-year moratorium on new factory farms, which are blamed for 11% of global emissions.

India: Thinking stuck in the 1960s is threatening India's farming sector, discouraging the production of crops needed for balanced nutrition and those that would boost farmers' income, a Bloomberg newsletter reported.

India is a leading producer of rice, wheat, milk, sugar, and other staples, mainly by small farmers. But decades of distorting subsidies have led to structural issues. Exports are also limited by the government to make sure the country can feed its population of 1.4 billion people.

Innovate Animal Ag: In-ovo sexting of hens is gaining ground in Europe, Innovate Animal Ag told The Food Institute. Currently, 389 million hens are in production, indicating a 15% market penetration, the company said, predicting an expansion soon to the U.S. and elsewhere.

In-ovo sexting technology culls male chicks before they can hatch. Most of the eggs produced by these hens are going to Germany and France. About half the chicks hatched in 2023 currently are producing eggs. Food Institute Focus

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Restaurant Sales Rebounds in October

Restaurant sales were up 1.4% on a comparable dollar sales basis even as comparable traffic slid 2.1% in October, according to Black Box Intelligence by guestXM. Full Story

"What is interesting in the new environment experienced by the industry is that traffic growth, albeit negative, has held up much better than sales. October's -2.1% same-store traffic growth is the strongest posted by the industry since March when the industry was still experiencing some tailwinds due to the easy Omicron-period lap," wrote guestXM.

Meanwhile, fast-food prices have risen 6.2% over the past year – nearly 200% quicker than the rate of inflation and consistently outpacing prices in full-service restaurants (4.3%). Plus, customer traffic is slowing down for QSRs, reported Tasting Table (Nov. 19). 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.

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