Fast Food Makes Way for Plant-Based Menu Items

Fast Food Makes Way for Plant-Based Menu Items

Image Source: Impossible Burger There’s been a stir amidst Costco fans this week regarding the news that the wholesale store’s food court removed some long-standing items from its menu – namely, the polish hot dog – and is rolling out some healthier options in their stead. (Source) The company’s decision comes in response to a widespread consumer demand for more plant-based food options. This movement is spurred by both health and environmentally conscious decision making. Despite the plant-based movement gaining traction in many fast food establishments, Costco shopper responses to these changes range from disappointed to boycott ready. What is it about this particular shift that’s missing the mark? Sonic has received overall positive feedback since launching their Signature Slinger burger in March. The burger was rolled out with the intent of reconnecting with their female consumer base and features a beef patty that consists of 25-30% mushrooms. It’s got fewer calories than a traditional burger, and an overall reduced impact on the environment due to the decreased amount of meat used. The real selling point is that the taste is nearly indistinguishable, if not juicier and even more savory. By offering consumers a tasty option that cuts back on meat consumption, even the most staunch carnivores are invited to consider new ways of eating. White Castle recently ventured into the world of plant-based protein by offering up the Impossible Burger as an alternative to the traditional beef patty on their iconic sliders. The East Coast establishment known for its low prices and simple menu is an unexpected candidate to have brought this plant-based burger phenomenon to a fast food...
Optimizing for the Virtual Shelf

Optimizing for the Virtual Shelf

Interact thanks Kevin Weiss of Amplio Digital for guest writing this informative post. He can be reached at kevin@ampliodigital.com   Optimizing for the Virtual Shelf Is Easy Food and beverage brands need to make a simple and easy change in their strategy to keep up with competition in today’s Omnichannel market. Simply put, brands should ensure that any/all investment into packaging and image photography for the physical shelf will produce an equally strong consumer experience on the virtual shelf. This change will typically result in a small (5-10%) increase in marketing expenses for this work, and the concepts are not complicated even for the neophyte digital marketer. Let’s start with a quick overview of the market, and then cover the two simple changes you can make to get asymmetric reward for your investments in the virtual shelf. Disclaimer: Don’t Neglect Brick & Mortar This article is not a permission slip for founders and marketers to neglect investment in brick & mortar retail. According to a recent study by Clickz , most consumers typically buy food and beverage products in the physical store (HPC refers to Health & Personal Care): Because of inherent challenges with the “Last Mile,” grocery is one of the last major retail categories to shift from bricks & mortar to digital. Of the nearly one trillion dollars U.S consumers purchased on grocery products in 2016, less than 5% occurred online. Food and beverage brands will do well to play the game by the rules that exist today and lean into wholesale and distribution to drive sales through physical grocery, natural and specialty storefronts. But those same surveys that...
Cannabis in the Wellness Space

Cannabis in the Wellness Space

Image Source: Mondo   With recreational marijuana legalized in 9 states, and medical in 29, there’s been a huge influx of cannabis infused food products. But customers are chasing more than just a high these days – cannabis is more commonly being used as an ingredient in wellness forward brands. Enter a world of well curated, function-focused brands which feature THC, CBD and hemp as ingredients to fulfill a variety of purposes.   Image Source: Kikoko The combination of cannabis with other healing foods can create effective natural remedies for everyday maladies. By using different levels of THC (the compound responsible for the high), and CBD (which helps to alleviate pain, anxiety and other issues), products can be formulated for specific purposes. Case in point, Kikoko offers a line of cannabis infused teas which are individually created to reduce pain, aid sleep, increase libido and boost mood. Prominent call-outs on the packaging specify whether the product contains low, medium or high THC levels so that the consumer may make an informed decision about what kind of effects to expect. Similarly, Stillwater’s cannabis teas and coffee are marketed as “The Natural Way to Manage Daily Stress”, and are prominently labeled with THC content on front of package (a low 2.5MG dose). Mondo is cannabis sold in powder form, allowing the consumer to precisely measure the dose they’d like to consume in order to experience natural anxiety relief, without sacrificing the alertness and productivity necessary to carry out daily tasks.   Image Source: Weller Many of these products lend themselves to regular use, much like a vitamin or other natural supplement – often,...
Why Natural Needs Design, More Than Ever

Why Natural Needs Design, More Than Ever

Every week, waves of all-natural, cleaner, better-for-us food companies push their way into the crowded food landscape, packed onto the shelves like a can of non-GMO, sustainably-harvested sardines. Categories balloon with products cut from the same, simpler-food-cloth. The pressure is such that even overly processed brands, many of which are American favorites, are reinventing themselves, fighting startups and innovators for relevancy. Food has taken its rightful place in culture, as any millennial’s Instagram will prove. Yet this shared ethos amongst almost every modern-day food company and founder, may present a hurdle to the brands they’re building today. Over the last several decades, the Natural and Organic foods industry has seen unprecedented growth, coming at the expense of Big Food. This changing of the guard has accelerated as more and more people become interested in their food. What’s in it? How is it made? Where does it come from? Natural’s ability to proudly deliver these characteristics has built valuable trust in the movement. Yet as the entire food system becomes more wholesome, more organic, and less processed, a dangerous dichotomy is emerging: When everyone crafts simpler foods that are closer to the earth, we simultaneously lose a valuable brand building asset – taste differentiation. Everyone and their investor is now in a race to the bottom of the clean, transparent ingredient list. Seemingly harmless “natural” flavors are now under growing scrutiny, furthering this flavor dilemma. Large food producers are leveraging their size, money and reach to play a serious game of clean-up. With all this going on, and a clear consensus around consumers’ interest in and demand for less, we’re now...
The Plant Based Food Market Continues to Expand

The Plant Based Food Market Continues to Expand

Plant-based foods are demanding more and more space on shelves. Consumer trends continue to shift toward meat and dairy free alternatives, and more products are popping up daily. PETA recently published an article calling out their favorite veggie products, and it led us to take notice of some recurring trends that are being seen in the space. Puffed Snacks Savory, crunchy foods like popcorn and potato chips are the most sought after snacks. But, less conventional ingredients are coming to the forefront. Boasting more health benefits than conventional corn, wheat or potato snacks, consumers are reaching for delectable offerings like Vegan Rob’s Moringa Puffs, and Bohana Puffed Water Lily Seeds. Faux Jerkies Though there’s been a huge expansion in meat jerkies featuring meats beyond beef, there are some interesting options that stand up as solid plant based alternatives to the hearty snack. Texture is key, so Pan’s Mushroom Jerky imitates the chewy quality of jerky with mushrooms. Akua’s kelp jerky helps satisfy the savory craving for jerky and is a remarkably more sustainable option. Sakara offers a slow baked watermelon jerky that sweeter option.   Dairy-Free Staples When considering a plant-based diet, finding stand-ins for traditionally animal derived products like butter and milk can make things difficult. And over the years, soy has lost a lot of its lustre. Aquafaba (which is essentially leftover chickpea liquid) has been showing up as a dairy stand in, most recently as a base for Fora Foods vegan butter. And while we have seen plenty of plant based yogurts, many lack the probiotics that traditional yogurt offers – but Coconut Cult retains that quality,...
16 Female Powered Food & Beverage Businesses

16 Female Powered Food & Beverage Businesses

We’re fortunate to work with amazing entrepreneurs; true partners building brands for a new generation. A recent Forbes article on female Food & Bev Entrepreneurs led us to reflect on all of the driven, innovative and overall badass women that we’ve been fortunate to encounter in our work. These individuals are responsible for bringing wildly innovative products to the forefront of the industry. Each with their own unique voices and stories. Women are underrepresented as entrepreneurs, making up only 36% of new business owners since 2012. (Source) But as Beyonce once said, “girls, we run this mother” and today we shine a light on that beautiful 36% percent in the hopes of inspiring others to make it 50-50! While most of the individuals we mention here are founders and CEO’s, we also work with countless female brand managers, marketers, strategists, creatives, account managers and other roles that are fundamental to the success of a business. 1051 GOODONYA Founder and CEO Kris Buchanan C.N. opened the GOODONYA deli with a passion for serving up locally sourced, organic and delicious food. Over the years she’s overseen launches of even more locations, landed the GOODONYA bar in Whole Foods, and helped formulate the 1051 Organic Sports Drink. Her unwavering commitment to quality of food and kindness as a lifestyle have set a shining example for entrepreneurs everywhere. AccelFoods Sometimes, brilliant companies need a leg up – especially in the food and beverage industry. Jordan Gaspar (a former corporate lawyer) and Lauren Jupiter (previously an investment banker) co-founded the incubator AccelFoods to launch innovative natural food startups to success. Both bring their solid backgrounds...