Foodservice Updates is designed to help foodservice operators keep on top of all the industry news and provides tips for keeping business running smooth. We endeavor to provide the latest tips and solutions to keep you in the know.
Food prep and packaging that suit the times
Any chef would love to have their dishes prepared, plated and enjoyed by customers within a period of a few minutes. But these days, that is an unusual scenario. The pandemic has not only spurred reinvention in restaurant service structures. It is also necessitating changes in how food is prepared due to the lag time between when a food is cooked and when a customer is eating it. Pret A Manger has met that challenge by incorporating sous vide into some of its ghost kitchens. The brand just partnered with Cuisine Solutions to launch a sous vide ghost kitchen in New York, the Spoon reports. By cooking and keeping food at a stable temperature, sous vide helps ensure a food doesn’t lose quality during the lag time between preparation and consumption – think of a chicken breast that becomes dry and rubbery if it’s not eaten soon after grilling. In Pret A Manger’s case, sous vide also helps ease labor strains by having food prepared centrally and minimizing additional work required by kitchen staff. Throughout the past year, you have no doubt reviewed and reworked your menu to ensure it travels and represents your brand well when consumers aren’t eating your food on-premise. If there are popular and profitable (but not very portable) items you have had to remove from the menu until customers feel safe about eating in your dining room, are there preparation or packaging adaptations that could enable you to bring those items back and preserve the experience consumers have when they eat a meal in your dining room?
Where’s the beef?
Make way for plant-based meat. While the rise of meat-free options is hardly new, these foods have gotten a major boost in momentum lately. According to new research, the plant-based meat market is on track to grow 93 percent between now and 2025 – its most substantial growth to date. Growing consumer interest in protecting both personal health and the environment is driving the trend. Restaurants have plenty to gain from it – even if plant-based meats occupy a small fraction of their menus. For one, prices of plant-based meats are coming down, aligning more closely with the cost of animal proteins. Impossible Foods recently cut wholesale prices on its plant-based burgers and sausages by 15 percent – its second price cut in less than a year, according to CNBC. The plant-based market is also an appealing one for restaurants. According to research from Packaged Facts, consumers of plant-based foods (whether all the time or even semi-regularly) tend to have the resources to pay for more premium foods and a willingness to pay for them. They skew younger (think Millennials and Generation Z) and are open to trying new products. They also tend to value eating fresh, healthy foods themselves and providing them for their children. Restaurants who want to develop this market can build menu offerings and promotions with those traits in mind: A restaurant near a college campus might push the boundaries of its plant-based menu items, offering creative combinations and edgy global flavors, while one serving families might assemble plant-based meal kits or bundles that help parents ensure they are feeding their families healthfully.
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