honeybees

Honeybees And Their Decline

Have you noticed an increase in price for honey, or maybe a decreased supply? In the past decade, the population of honeybees has drastically declined. Theories may help explain, however no scientist or bee-enthusiast knows exactly why the bee population is dying out.

Honeybees do more good than harm; in fact, most people never get stung by a honeybee. A bee’s purpose is to pollinate, and that is exactly what they are driven to do every day. As much as 75% of pollination of flowering plants and crops come from honey bees. Greenpeace states that the honeybee’s economic impact is almost $300 billion worldwide. This is because the pollination from the honey bee reduces the need for human pollination and in turn creates a large number of plants and crops for human consumption.

No Honeybee = No Food

Without bees, much of our food supply would be depleted. This goes far and beyond just fresh fruits and vegetables, although we would see the effect on produce the most. Without honeybees, fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, apples and cherries would greatly decline. That is just to name a few. Other foods include cucumber, tomatoes, vanilla, coffee, cashews, and of course, honey. The list of all honey bee pollinated foods goes on and on and includes more than most would even think!

Without fresh produce and other pollinated foods, we as consumers would see the effects in processed foods as well. Without fresh berries, ice cream toppings in fruity flavors like strawberry would no longer be in production. Trail mix would cease to exist without nuts and dried fruit and any baked good would never taste the same without vanilla. Even our favorite t-shirts would start to change as bees pollinate cotton.

Why Honeybees Are Declining

There are many theories circulating around the globe regarding the decline in bees. No theory has been proven to be the definitive reason that honeybees are decreasing in population. However, many theories give way as to reasons which honeybees no longer fly where they used to. One of these theories has to do with cell phone towers. Skeptics believe that the cell towers mess with a bee’s sense of direction, therefore getting them lost in transit. The bees then drop dead because of their inability to return to the hive. This theory however, is not supported by many researchers.

The top two theories on the declining honeybee population have to do with pesticides and mites. There are many environmentalists and researchers who have discovered that when honeybees come into contact with pesticides, they often get sick and pass away. The pesticides intended to harm the insects that eat the plants really harm the bees. In addition, a certain mite has become immune to a common pesticide used to keep mites away from the hive. The mites infect the hive and therefor kill the colony. When the entire colony dies off, researchers refer to it as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. CCD also occurs when honeybees pollinate and spread harmful chemicals to other plants, passing it on to the next honeybee coming to pollinate the plant.

Measures to Bring Back the Honeybees

The honeybee epidemic is world-wide and many countries and states are taking measures to stop the epidemic from spreading. European countries have banned certain pesticides that harm bees, the United States has yet to do so. However, the United States Department of Agriculture has enacted government subsidies for efforts to save the bees. Many universities and companies are also dedicating large areas of land strictly dedicated to raising bees. In addition, the amount of local and independent beekeepers continues to decrease.

While many theories exist as to why populations of honeybees are rapidly declining, efforts are underway to reduce this declination. Honeybees are so important to both agriculture and economics. There is no way that life on Earth could be the same without them.

 

french fries

Consumers Increase Their Love of French Fries

French fries may just be America’s favorite comfort food. They have been around for years and you will find it hard to meet someone who despises the fried potato. Even with recent efforts and trends to increase healthy eating, French fries are still on the rise and are even known to increase profits in restaurants. Why the continuous increase? No one can know for sure, but their variations and allergy-friendliness make them a go-to for many consumers.

French Fry Varieties

In recent years, the loaded French fry; fries with toppings; has seen a recent surge on menus. In fact, according to Technomic, loaded fries have increased 23.6% since 2012! This increase is only expected to continue. The most common toppings on loaded fries include bacon, cheese and ranch dressing. Similar to loaded fries, seasoned fries have increased in popularity. Frequent seasonings, besides salt, include hot sauce powder, cinnamon sugar and garlic. Customers are also craving different types of fries like sweet potato fries or tater tots. In fact 57% of consumers would order sweet potato fries if they were an option.

French Fries and Food Allergies

French fries are also very friendly in many food-specific diets. Although potatoes are considered a carb, they do not contain grains or gluten and can be consumed by the gluten-free or celiac diet followers. Potatoes are also dairy free and nut free, making them very allergen friendly. Be aware that different toppings and coatings can change the allergens of the French fry so always label the menu appropriately.

As you plan your menu, consider adding French fries as both a side and an appetizer. Customers are increasingly ordering fries and love seeing them on a menu. Try a variety of French fries, including loaded fries, seasonings and sweet potatoes. Your customers will love ordering French fries at your restaurant.

 

Memorial Day

Spend Memorial Day Out at Restaurants

Memorial Day is a day to celebrate our nation’s veterans and fallen soldiers. While many parades and events take place to commemorate this holiday, families often use this day to kick-off summer and usually do so with a backyard barbecue. While everyone loves a backyard barbecue, here are great ways to entice customers to your restaurant.

Service Our Military

As Memorial Day celebrates our country’s military, so should your restaurant! If you use any signage at your eatery, show that you are celebrating Memorial Day. Use language like, “thank you US military” or “honoring our nation’s military members” on your Memorial Day banners, special menu or coupons. In addition, entice military members by offering discounts or special promotions. Give active members or veterans with discounts or specials such as 10% off their bill or a free appetizer or dessert with valid ID. Military customers will love these promotions.

Bring the Memorial Day Barbecue to Customers

Most Americans receive this holiday off from work, so they may want a day off from cooking as well. Advertise to your customers that they should take the entire day off and leave the cooking to your restaurant; they may be more willing to choose you over the competition. As many consider Memorial Day the beginning of summer, they may want to enjoy the day outside if the weather is nice. Open up your patio if you have one so customers can enjoy the sun. Offer take-out and delivery as well so people can enjoy your restaurant’s food from their own backyard.

As Memorial Day approaches, consider how to bring customers to your restaurant. Advertise to military members by offering free or discounted food items when they show their ID. Show that you appreciate their efforts towards our nation by displaying your thanks in various signage. For those enjoying the day off, bring them in with delivery or take-out options and let them know to leave the cooking to you. This Memorial Day, your restaurant will shine among American consumers.

rolled ice cream

Ice Cream Trends for Summer

As summer rolls around, consumers begin to crave ice cream. Whether for a dessert, a snack or a splurge, there is nothing better than cool creamy treat on a hot summer day. However, ice cream is trending away from the simple cup or bowl. As new food trends emerge, ice cream has begun a makeover and the options are plentiful.

Flavor and Texture Twists

For the most part, toppings consisted of syrups, chocolate chips, nuts and whipped cream. Now, you can find almost anything on top of your ice cream. Favorites include matcha balls, cereal and cheesecake or brownie chunks. Cones are even dipped in these toppings. Flavors have updated as well. New, trendy flavors like balsamic strawberry, green tea, and “black ice cream” have emerged. In addition, the Thai trend, rolled ice cream has hit the United States and is growing in popularity every day.

Ice Cream Cones

Gone are the days of the sugar cone, even the waffle cone is revamped. This summer, taste the difference with a new variety of cones. The bubble cone, which according to the trend report, The Things, originated in Hong Kong in the 1950’s and has made its way to the United States. This cone is essentially a puffy waffle cone. The bubble cone provides a soft texture for consumes, making the first bite much easier. Another twist on the cone is a doughnut cone. A doughnut cone is exactly what it sounds, a doughnut. These fried cones are sweet and rolled in cinnamon sugar to provide the additional sugar rush you crave! Some consumers call these cones churro cones, and a creamery in San Francisco makes their own; calling them Chimney Cones as they resemble a chimney.

Wild Milkshakes

Milkshakes have taken the most extreme route, and even emerged as a top trend for 2017 according to the National Restaurant Association. The flavor and texture of a milkshake is one of a kind, but add these extreme toppings and you can uncover a whole new world. One of these wild milkshakes, known as a “freakshake” tops a milkshake with yet another dessert. The milkshake sits in a Mason jar, then topped with whipped cream and a cookie, slice of cake or a brownie with other additions like marshmallows, pretzels and animal crackers. The other wild milkshakes are similar. These towering milkshakes are mixed with candies, cookies, pretzels, syrups and more. To add to the extreme, the towering milkshake is then topped with whipped cream, candy and cookies. Talk about a sugar overload.

Ice Cream Sandwich

Everyone loves an ice cream sandwich and now, there is even more reason to love them. Customers have craved creativity, as cookie and ice cream flavors have divulged beyond vanilla and chocolate chip. Now, customers want a chocolate cookie with mint ice cream, or a snickerdoodle with carrot cake ice cream. However, some consumers have nixed the cookie for a different type sandwich. Consumers now want this creamy dessert sandwiched between brownies, cakes, pies and donuts. The flavors and combinations are almost endless.

This summer, take your ice cream to the next level. Offer customers the latest trends such as rolled ice cream, churro cones or “freakshakes”. Summer provides an excellent time to promote these exciting trends. During the hot summer months, customers will be more willing to order this sweet treat, especially if it contains wild toppings and flavors. Your guests will be coming back for more when you serve these ice cream twists.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Meal

Traditional St. Patrick’s Day Foods and Celebrations

Although not a national holiday, the United States holds huge celebrations around St. Patrick’s Day. This holiday, held on the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death, commemorates the famous Irishman. St. Patrick was known for his noble missionary work in Ireland and some historians believe he introduced the island to Christianity. Nowadays, many of America’s largest cities hold St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and parades. On March 17th, Americans everywhere dress in green, drink beer and eat Irish food. In fact, many American celebrations are larger than the Irish celebrations. In order to attract customers to your restaurant, create your own St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day Origins

Interestingly enough, the Irish did not make this holiday a major celebration until the 1970’s. Before, they simply attended church in the morning and returned home to a large family dinner of cabbage and bacon. The Irish immigrants celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the United States beginning in the 1700’s. In 1845, when the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland, many more immigrants ventured to the United States. Seen as a nuisance, the Americans portrayed Irish immigrants as drunken monkeys when celebrating the holiday. Years later, these immigrants discovered their political influence through their large number of people. The Irish-Americans used St. Patrick’s Day parades as a showcase of strength and became a must-attend event for political candidates.

Traditional St. Patrick’s Day Food

By the mid-1900’s, St. Paddy’s Day developed into a major celebration for all Americans. While residents of Chicago turn the river green, many cities hold parades and restaurants serve traditional Irish meals and beer. The most famous meal, corned beef and cabbage, became popular when Irish immigrants could not afford bacon. They turned to corned beef, a cheaper yet flavorful substitute for bacon. Although not as common, serve bangers and mash for the non-cabbage fans. As a side dish, serving a variety of potatoes in addition to Irish soda bread gives a nice Irish touch. For those of legal age, serve Guinness, Ireland’s most famous beer. For dessert, add whiskey to a chocolate cake or make bread pudding with leftover soda bread.

To celebrate St. Paddy’s Day at your restaurant, add Irish specials to your menu. Many consumers have never made traditional Irish dishes and often take this holiday as an opportunity to eat Irish fare. In addition, meals like corned beef and cabbage take hours to prepare, hours that customers do not want to spend cooking. Take this holiday as an opportunity to serve your customers delicious Irish meals.

Throughout the years, St. Patrick’s Day has developed into a massive Irish tradition that Americans love to celebrate. Whether through parades or food, consumers are constantly looking for a way to enjoy the holiday. Add Irish meals like bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage and soda bread to your menu for the celebration. When you serve your customers traditional Irish foods and drinks you will certainly drive traffic to your restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

March Madness basketball

March Madness in Restaurants

March Madness begins this year on Selection Sunday, March 12th. With games running Thursday through Sunday until April 3rd, restaurants will likely see an increase in sales during this period of time.  Customers flock to restaurants and bars to watch teams play for the college basketball championship. Michigan’s own Spartans and Wolverines are on the bubble, but likely candidates for the tournament this year. March Madness gives customers the excuse to get out, enjoy great food and watch basketball, regardless of their team’s outcome in the tournament. Restaurants must prepare for this increase for the month of March.

When catering to your customers during March Madness, remember that all ages will come out to root for their team. Ages ranging from children to adults to the retired will be out eating while enjoying the games.  According to the National Restaurant Association, 20% of viewers plan to watch March Madness at a restaurant or bar. However, this has nothing to do with a customer’s favorite team. This implies that basketball viewers will watch the games all through the tournament, regardless of their team’s success. Fans will more likely choose the restaurant based on the size of televisions and options on the menu.

What to Serve for March Madness

Customers want to eat food that does not take much work. Fans will want to focus all of their attention on the game. Looking away from the tv for just a few seconds runs the risk of missing a big play. Serve your customers food they can eat with their hands. Pizza, wings and nachos are great options for finger foods. When watching these games, fans tend to eat without nutrition in mind. Any sort of fried food tends to grab the attention of the basketball fan. Also remember to have plenty of drink options. While customers will likely order alcohol during the game, beer is the most popular. Beer sales increase by 20% during March Madness.

Remember that some customers may leave your restaurant upset because of the outcome of a game. While you always want your customer happy, your restaurant can win from a team’s loss. Both pizza and dessert sales increase after a fan watches their team lose instead of win. When a customer appears upset from the games result, offer them your dessert menu.

Customer retention for March Madness

Since March Madness runs several weeks, make sure your restaurant is one that customers will come back to every week. Start by holding a tournament challenge the day of Selection Sunday. By posting these brackets, as well as who is leading, at your restaurant. Customers will want to see where they stand, therefore urging them to return every weekend. In addition, give the top 3 a prize. Let the winners choose between gift certificates, dinner specials or other restaurant prizes.

Customers are also more likely to return to a restaurant if they know there are food and drink specials accompanying the game. In fact, this accounts for why almost 35% of March Madness customers choose a specific restaurant.  Most importantly, make your customers feel welcome.  Encourage your customers to wear and support their favorite team, making them feel right at home. Especially in Michigan, encouraging March Madness viewers to support the Spartans and Wolverines will likely draw a crowd.

This month, remember that your restaurant will likely see an increase in sales for March Madness. Customers will likely flock to restaurants that have great deals for the games, in addition to available tv’s to watch the games. Serving easy finger food, great beer and dessert options will keep your customers happy. Regardless of the team they support, remember that March Madness is a win for restaurants everywhere.

Serving Meat-Free Lent Meals

Although not a holiday, Lent brings major changes to the restaurant industry. During this 40 day period, menus see an increasing amount of fish and seafood. Lent is the period observed before Easter, where Catholics and many Protestants follow restrictive diets. During this time many “give up” foods such as chocolate or junk food, these are up to the individual. The practices started to honor Christ and experience suffering, just as Jesus suffered for his people. In addition, many Christians practice the act of not eating meat on all Friday. Without meat, Lenten Fridays have been deemed as Fish Friday.

Lent Menu Options

Especially as we transition into warmer weather, many fresh inspired dishes include fish. With a variety of fish to choose from, the options are almost endless. Smoked salmon and almond crusted tilapia are very popular among consumers. Also consider a seafood twist on common meat dishes. Try a seafood lasagna or a shrimp pad Thai to allow customers to order their comfort dishes without the meat. Vegetarian meals are another option for those foregoing meat. As vegetables increase in popularity, so do vegetarian dishes. Portabella burgers, falafel and ratatouille are just a few dishes to highlight as a vegetarian entrée.

For those who do not want to change their menu for the Lenten season, consider only highlighting these dishes on Friday. Create specials for Friday nights that do not contain meat. Consider using key words to describe your meatless dishes in order to attract all customers. Words like “organic” and “natural” appeal to most everyone in 2017. When purchasing fish and seafood, locally sourced seafood will entice any trendsetter, regardless of their Lenten practices. Using organic and natural produce will have the same effect on customers.

With these approaches, the menu contains trendy and enticing dishes for both the meat eaters and Lent observers. When your menu includes meatless dishes that taste delicious, everyone will enjoy these options. Remember to market these dishes to both the Lenten observers and those not following dietary restrictions. In addition, those restraining from meat from Lent will only do so on Fridays, so make sure to keep plenty of traditional meat dishes on the menu. When your restaurant includes trendy meat-free meals, customers will return with the satisfaction of knowing you can provide for their dietary needs.

customers at a restaurant

Generational Preferences in Foodservice

Every American falls into a generational category; the generation dependent on the individual’s birth year. Alive today range from the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Gen Z. Generations form through common experiences and current events that shape the individuals in their age group. For example, the Vietnam War significantly impacted the Baby Boomers, while technology impacted their Millennial children. In general, generations each have certain preferences in which they base their consumer behavior. Scholars spend time studying these behaviors to assist the manufacturer or business owner. Different generational preferences include fashion, entertainment, language, work ethic, spending habits and even food.

The Older Generational Preferences

Restaurants must take note of generational preferences in food and dining out. However, Baby Boomers are usually the oldest generation eating out. The consumer’s generation heavily influences the choice of when and where to eat out, as well as what to purchase.  Many factors influence these preferences including free time, finances and children. Baby Boomers usually dine at the traditional restaurants that sell comfort food. According to an article written by Rita Negrete, this generation also eats out at more full-service restaurant than any other. However, do not assume this generation has the largest bill. Generation X spends the most money on a night out. These individuals do not worry about menu price. This stat is likely due to the fact that this generation has a generally high household income with steady jobs. They also prefer restaurants that promote authenticity and upscale items.

The Younger Generational Preferences

The largest gap between generations in regards to dining preferences is likely between Generation X and Millennials. Millennials tend to dine out for the experience rather than the food. To Millennials, restaurants serve as a social setting more than anything else. A Bloomberg.com article speculates that the Millennials are the reason that last year, dining out sales passed grocery sales for the first time in American history. Millennials flock to restaurants that offer something unique or authentic and serve food boasting natural and fresh labels.  Millennials are one a larger generation, second to Baby Boomers, so scholars suggest paying close attention to their dining preferences. Generation Z, very similar to Millennials, enjoy restaurants that provide natural, unprocessed, or sustainable food. Scholars consider Gen Z the digital generation, they love online ordering and digital marketing.

Each generation has the ability to influence food trends, menu items and restaurant products.  Many studies take into account generational eating habits and describe important factors that influence these habits. Consider these studies when planning and creating menus and marketing pieces for your restaurant.

Cinco de Mayo meal

2017 Food Trends- Ethnic Cuisine

In our last “Trendy Tuesday” segment, we will focus on ethnic cuisine. Foods like tacos, spaghetti, and fried rice have been a mainstay in the United States for a long time. While these foods have gained popularity throughout the years, cuisines such as Mediterranean and Korean have taken center stage. As our country’s taste buds have developed, ethnic cuisine continuously trend upwards.

Multiple Ethnic Cuisine Trends

Although ethnic flavors have risen in popularity in the past century, Americans demand more. According to the National Restaurant Association’s annual trend list, authenticity ranks in the top ten. As ethnic flavors gain popularity, consumers demand authenticity. Customers no longer desire the American spaghetti, they demand the version an Italian grandmother would prepare for her family. Also included in the NRA’s list is African cuisine. African cuisine showcases simply, flavorful dishes including large quantity or rice, cooked meats and vegetables. Many African dishes are very transparent, a possible reason as to why Americans now flock to the cuisine.

Ethnic spices just missed the top ten, ranking 11 in the overall poll. Popular ethnic spices include harissa, curry, za’atar and turmeric. These spices all originate from Africa and the Middle East.  These spices could be the result of “migratory meals”. Food Business News states that as refugees from the Middle East and Africa make way to the United States they bring their food and flavors with them. Many of these immigrants have opened small restaurants showcasing their heritage. Americans cannot get enough of these flavors, certainly causing the upward spike in trendy ethnic cuisines.

Ethnic Meals and Dishes

The world is huge, giving way to a multitude of different ethnic meals and dishes. Although Americans know fried chicken as an American comfort dish, cultures across the globe render versions of their own. Perdue Foodservice claims that the Koreans, Indians and Japanese all have a different take on fried chicken. The Koreans fry ethnic cuisine- shakshukathe chicken twice, Indians sauté their chicken in yogurt sauce after frying and the Japanese deep fry bite size pieces. While these dishes all include fried chicken, each cuisine flavors the iconic dish to taste their own. Also growing in popularity among American consumers is the rise of ethnic breakfasts. Americans now desire ethnic flavors on breakfast menus including Spanish chorizo and Mediterranean shakshuka. These dishes put an ethnic spin on their breakfast favorites.  In fact, ethnic breakfast is so trendy; the NRA rates this 6 in their top ten trend list.

Ethnic cuisine wraps up our four week “Trendy Tuesday” segment. Encompassed into one large trend, ethnic flavors have segments of their own. As certain cuisines like African and Middle Eastern continue to grow in popularity, many ethnic breakfasts have made their way to menus. As the year continues, try adding ethnic spices and flavors to your menu. You will certainly be a hit to your trendy customers.

Valentine's Day

2017 Valentine’s Day Trends

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and although not a national holiday, restaurants treat this day more special than most. Valentine’s Day is celebrated across the globe, with origination in Rome back in the 3rd Century. Although the legends of Valentine’s Day beginnings differ, today we have come to know February 14th as a day for lovers. Here in the United States, restaurants see this as a huge day for sales. The holiday is the second busiest day of the year in the restaurant business, only behind Mother’s Day.

Valentine’s Day Statistics

American’s spend $147 each year on Valentine’s Day, 7 million of that towards dining out. The average couple will spend $147 on February 14th. Singles spend money too. On this holiday single men on average $40 while single women spend an average of $71. This increase in dining from both couples and singles gives restaurants everywhere an extra $$$ on the bill than a usual night out. No matter the relationship status, Americans are willing to spend a few more dollars on this holiday than the average Tuesday. With such an increase in sales, restaurants must take note as to what customers want to eat.

Valentine’s Day Dining Trends

Remember also, Valentine’s Day is not just for couples anymore. “Galentine’s Day” and single’s parties are cause to celebrate as well. However, couples and singles celebrate different. AaronAllen and Associates state that couples would rather have an experience on Valentine’s Day than receive gifts. A great way to incorporate this preference is giving your customers an amazing night at a restaurant. Fill their dining out experience with great service and food. Couples gravitate towards ethnic foods like Italian, French and Spanish cuisines. However, cuisine is not always the deciding factor on where to eat. 42% of diners will choose their favorite restaurant to celebrate this special day. Singles however, tend to order take-out or delivery. Eater states that  pizza, wings and egg rolls dominate their orders. Do not forget about dessert. Chocolate reigns supreme on Valentine’s Day as 50% of consumers prefer some sort of cocoa treat as dessert.

This February 14th, take both singles and couples into consideration when planning your restaurant menu. Remember to incorporate a great experience for those who dine in and a carry-out option for those eating at home. As diners flock to restaurants this year, remember your customer’s needs and you will have a very successful Valentine’s Day.