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What’s on the radar for 2013?
9. Breads and greens
Many restaurants won’t provide bread unless guests request it. And increasingly, they’re charging for it. Look for more elaborate breads and rolls as restaurants increasingly do in-house baking. The practice can save costs and ramp up distinctiveness, especially with sandwiches, emphasizing an “artisan” at work.
Less-heard-of greens are proliferating as well. Meanwhile, seaweed is showing up on more than just sushi. It’s in bread, flavored salt, crackers, breakfast cereals and butter and toasted and sprinkled on fries, fish and pasta. Kale has trickled down to mass-market feeders. The likes of beet greens, chard, turnip greens and mustard greens, rejected only five years ago, are finding favor.
10. Suppliers are getting into the game
Blame it, perhaps, on the wildly successful Apple Stores. More food suppliers and manufacturers are launching their own restaurant startups. Their aim: To raise their brands’ visibility and build powerful appeals to consumers.
Take the latest “culture wars”: Dannon and Chobani have opened flagship yogurt bars in New York City, planting their flags where thousands of customers pass by. Dannon is hawking a choice of traditional and Greek-style yogurt, a retail segment that’s doubled in five years with no sign of slowing. Chobani, the largest US purveyor of its kind, sells only Greek yogurt curated by “yogurt masters.” Both stress “fresh” yogurt, the tangy mainstay of all those Korean upstarts.
Barilla is launching branded pasta restaurants next year to enhance the company’s pasta products in supermarkets and, presumably, among restaurant food buyers and customers. A competitive manufacturer, Pastificio Rana, is opening a long-delayed fresh pasta restaurant in New York’s Chelsea market, the first of a chain.
Ghirardelli Chocolate, on the prowl for high-traffic venues, opened a soda fountain/chocolate shop at Disney California Adventure. Next up: locations in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel and Harrah’s Carnaval Court in Las Vegas. In Virginia, Smithfield Foods opened a pork-centric restaurant, Taste of Smithfield, combined with a specialty retail store. It’s designed to enhance the brand’s visibility by attracting large number of tourists.
And don’t forget beer. Anheuser Busch-InBev is joining other global breweries at airports with a chain of Belgian Beer Cafes serving their own brands (Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Leffe) and modest amounts of food.
Some of these are for promotional purposes, but some are actual profit centers operations slated for expansion (Pastificio Rana runs a chain of pasta places in Europe), so one wonders whether more of this stuff could alienate the folks who write restaurants’ purchase orders for food and beverages.
On the other hand, since we’re finding increasing numbers of chain restaurant brands in supermarkets, perhaps this is well-deserved tit-for-tat.
Michael Whiteman is president of Baum+Whiteman. Contact him at email@example.com.