Transparency on the Rise in the Foodservice Industry
By Dwayne Reno
Transparency is quickly becoming the new norm for fast food and beverage brands in 2017. New government policies and changing consumer habits are helping to fuel this new movement among food and beverage operators. Also some brands are hoping that their transparency will help to differentiating them from their competitors and attract new customers. This week I would like to explore some of the reasons why fast food and beverage brands are embracing the move towards transparency and cleaner food.
In 2016 the Canadian government shook up the foodservices industry when it gave food operators a deadline to add calorie information to their menus. The menu labelling would apply to foodservice operators with 20 or more locations.
The new rule which came into effect January 1, 2017, has been praised by many health professionals. Ellen Wodchis, President of Ontario Public Health Association, said “our Association is pleased to see the Ontario government taking these next steps in collaboration with the business community to implement menu labelling and create an environment that values health for all.”
Diabetes and obesity continue to weigh heavily on government budgets so much so that governments are considering the possibilities of a sugar tax, to the dismay of many beverage operators. Furthermore much of the blame for the current health crisis has falling solely on food and beverage brands due to their use of additives and preservatives in their food.
However, the additional menu transparency does not sit well with everyone. Some foodservice operators argue that the additional cost of updating menus will cut into already slim profits and limit accuracy for the program.
Heath Conscious Consumers
A recent report by the NPD Group stated that 80 per cent of Canadians eat at home because they see premade food has unhealthy. This image of the fast food being unhealthy in my opinion is the main reason fast food and beverage operators have started to clean up their act.
Chipotle was in the news recently, the Mexican Burrito chain announced that they have removed all artificial ingredients and preservatives from their food.
Also in a very bold move the brand has called out many of their competitors stating, “rather than switching from artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives to ‘natural’ alternatives of the same additives, fast food companies should be asking why their food needs added colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives in the first place,” said Mark Crumpacker, Chief Marketing and Development Officer for Chipotle.
Preceding Chipotle’s announcement was McDonald's who recently announced that they are planning to source fresh beef for their quarter pounder sandwich. Also McDonald's Canada’s CEO John Betts stated in a recent interview "I will tell you straight out that the reputation we have for food is absolutely unfair, unrealistic and a total ... fill in the blank."
Another brand who seems to be basking in the success of clean and transparent food is Panera Bread. The bakery chain recently stated that they will be posting added sugars and calories for self-serve drinks. The news comes at a time when the chain is about to release its own line of non-carbonated teas, lemonades and freshcas which will be made fresh daily and contain less sugar then current drink offerings.
Panera Bread’s owner and founder Ron Shaich was clear that he would like others in the foodservice industry to follow when he said “while we won’t tell people what they should drink, we want to provide real options and real transparency—and we’re challenging the industry to join us.”
However the question on everyone’s mind now is how will Panera’s newest move towards transparency sit with beverage operators? Especially Pepsi who was advised by Shaich before the announcement was made public.
Healthy Food is Marketable
Food and beverage brands are well aware of their unhealthy public image but in a strange twist transparent brands have started to campaign against less transparent brands. The move by Chipotle and Panera Bread is a welcome change which bodes well for the food and beverage industry as a whole.
While healthy food is marketable many in the foodservice industry still question this movement. Some food and beverage operators see health conscious consumers as a fad while others may not want to change what has worked for them in the past. However you may see it one thing is for sure transparency is the new morn and brands that adapt will outlast those who don’t.
Until next time your customers want to know why they should spend money at your restaurant, bar or cafe. So give them the goods!
Dwayne Reno CEO & Founder
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