Monday, May 23, 2011

From menu to label: Restaurant foods begin hitting grocery shelves

Stroll the aisles at your local supermarket and you may find yourself wondering if you just entered a grocery store or a popular restaurant chain’s dining room.  TGI Friday’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Taco Bell, and PF Chang’s are just a few restaurants who have licensed retail versions of their menu items to be sold on grocery shelves, and it’s a trend that is set to continue: Penetrating the retail market not only opens up an alternative revenue stream; it allows consumers to have the restaurant experience at home while still remaining connected to your signature offerings - think of it as an extension of your brand.

It’s not just the major chains that are making the jump.  California-based Tender Greens and Specialty’s CafĂ© and Bakery are two examples of small to medium sized establishments that have crossed over to the retail market. 

This trend caught my attention not only in the grocery store, but also in my office.  I deal with a lot of restaurants who need to comply with nutrition labeling laws, and food companies who need to comply with packaged food labeling laws.  Now I am starting to see al lot of crossover.  At this point the two set of regulations are quite different, but are hopefully clear, and simple enough not to confuse the consumer. 

Are you a restauranteur who has had success with marketing your brand through alternative foodservice channels?  Please share your experience.

See you on the shelves!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Royal Wedding: A Celebration of Not-So-Nutritious British Foods

You may have heard about a certain royal wedding that took place last week in Great Britain (*insert sarcasm here*).

The buzz was awfully hard to avoid!  One of the girls in the FoodCALC office got especially into watching the coverage, and even went so far as to throw a “royal wedding viewing party,” complete with tiaras and nibbles for her guests.   This got me thinking…

How would some classic British food stack up nutritionally?  If you’ve ever eaten at a British pub or tea house, you may agree that it’s not known for being the healthiest fare…but it sure can be delicious!   

As an ode to the newly married William and Catherine, let’s break it down:
 Scones with jam and cream (AKA “a cream tea”): 485 calories.
Flaky, buttery scones topped with clotted cream and jam are a classic British teatime treat. 

Eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, and baked beans with toast (AKA “a fry-up”):  780 calories.
Two eggs, two rashers of bacon, a piece of sausage, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, baked beans and a slice of fried bread may be a delicious English breakfast, but the calories quickly add up!

Fish & chips: 595 calories.
The signature British meal is made even better by piling on lots of malt vinegar, salt, and ketchup!

Sticky toffee pudding: 156 calories.
This steamed dessert is a sweet, sticky indulgence and is commonly served with vanilla ice cream or custard.  Beware, 156 calories will only get you 1/6 of a serving.  The cake below contains a whopping 936 calories and over 50g fat!

Note: all calorie information is based on standard recipes and average portion sizes.

With delicious meals such as these, it makes you wonder how British food has ended up with a bad reputation.  There is plenty to indulge in here, right?!

Cheers to the newly married royal couple!