A new FDA law would standardize menu nutrition labeling across the country. At Pizza Expo 2012, dietitian Rebekah Spetnagel and nutrition and marketing consultant Julie Bush discussed menu-labeling requirements and how they could affect pizzerias.
Spetnagel and Bush, owners of On the Menu, a nutrition consulting firm, explain the new law - which may affect only restaurants with more than 20 units - is not expected to publish its final rules before November, and it won’t be enforced until six months after that. However, experts are encouraging pizzerias to take a look at their menus to get ready for the change when it comes.
THE MENU LABELING LAW IN GENERAL
The law will require restaurants to show calories of items in the menu and let consumers know additional nutritional information is available in the restaurant. Exemptions to the new laws include temporary items (LTOs), condiments, daily specials, custom orders, test market items and pre-packaged foods.
Studies have shown that half of patrons notice the calories on menus and only one-fourth are influenced by them. “This indicates that putting calories on the menu will result in minimal change in behaviors,” Spetnagel and Bush said, “Those most influenced will be women and the affluent. Younger consumers are the least likely to be influenced.”
THE BENEFITS OF MENU LABELING
Despite projected moderate consumer use, the law could have positive affects in general as pointed out by Spetnagel and Bush:
- Meets customer demand for product information
- Could lead to healthier choices by consumers, which would lead to a healthier population
- Fosters increased loyalty and revenue for operations, putting them ahead of their competition
- Tracks allergens and gluten-free menu items
- Helps operators discover and promote healthy items
CREATING A HEALTHIER PIZZA
In preparation for the labeling law, pizzerias are taking a look at ways to add healthy options to their menus. Spetnagel and Bush suggested employing one or more of these ideas:
- Fresher ingredients
- Lean meats
- Whole wheat or gluten-free crusts
- Lots of veggies
- Lower fat cheese
- Lower calorie sauce
PREPARING FOR THE NEW LAW
Finally, Spetnagel and Bush suggested preparing for menu labeling by:
- Standardizing recipes
- Developing a system to maintain recipes and ingredients
- Determining how menus will be analyzed (nutrition calculator recommended)
A new trend is emerging in the pizza industry - flatbreads. The Pizza Consumer Trend Report from Technomic stated that over the past two years consumers seem to show an increasing interest in flatbread pizza.
You might ask yourself, “How is flatbread different from the common favorites, hand-tossed and deep-dish?” or “What makes flatbread appealing to consumers?”
Flatbread pizza seems to be connected with the movement towards authentic Italian interpretations of pizza; including Neapolitan-style, wood-fired or hearth-baked pizzas. Flatbread is appealing to pizzeria owners because, unlike deep-dish and hand-tossed pizzas, flatbread is much quicker to bake. Deep dish pizza can often be two inches thick, while flatbread is much thinner; ¼ - ½ inch. The faster the pizza is made, the faster the customer is able to enjoy it, and the more time you have available to serve other customers. Flatbread pizza baked in a stone hearth results in a lighter and crisper crust than a pizza baked in a conventional oven. It can also add another level of flavor to your pizzas by adding a smoky or slightly charred taste. It’s a way to make your crust stand out from other restaurants and give the customer the feeling of a true Italian experience.
Consumers also seem to be willing to pay a higher price for pizzas made in a stone hearth. Maybe this arises because they feel that their pizza is being authentically prepared for them in the European style - where pizza was born. Even listing ingredients with Italian in front of the ingredient such as sausage or other spices can give your customers the idea that they are getting authentic ingredients with their experience.
Source: Technomic, Inc., 2012, The Pizza Consumer Trend Report
For flatbread recipes and flatbread pizza ideas visit BurkeCorp.com or download a free Flatbread Pizza Recipe Flyer here.
Restaurants are always looking for ways to grow their business and to get a step above the competition. The 2012 Pizza Consumer Trend Report from Technomic may finally give limited-service restaurants the insight to do so.
Technomic recently reported that two of the biggest areas of growth for limited-service restaurants lie within the calzone-style and combo-meat pizza segments.
To the everyday consumer, these varieties have their benefits. In 2011, calzones were offered in restaurants 30% more than they were in 2009, putting calzones in second for most popular type of pizza on the menu. A calzone is appealing because it has a more personalized size than an average pizza, and is very convenient to transport on the go. Calzones are even being substituted for pizzas at times because they include the same ingredients, but may be less expensive.
Meat variety pizzas took the top spot in 2011 for being the most frequently offered. The classic ‘meat lovers’ or ‘3 meat’ pizza - typically with pepperoni, sausage, and beef - is attractive to consumers in this recovering economy because they are looking for a lot of food for a small price. With a combo-meat variety they are finding just that. They are able to get not only a lot of food, but also a great selection of meats for the price of a regular pizza.
As the pizza industry continues to grow, now is the time to really set yourself apart from the competition. A great way to do this is by updating your menu. Calzones and meat-variety pizzas can help surge your business to new customers and new capital.
Source: Technomic, Inc., 2012, The Pizza Consumer Trend Report
Each March, at the International Pizza Expo™ in Las Vegas, Nevada, there are two Beer and Bull™ sessions where attendees can ask questions and share their experiences. These sessions provide a great opportunity to learn from other operators’ experiences, see the variety of solutions to everyday issues, and gauge new trends in the industry.
Here is a brief recap of the hottest Q&A from this year:
Are any operators raising your menu prices? How much?
What is everyone charging for delivery?
- We raise prices based on the food cost increase percentage - if my costs went down I raised the price 1-3% to cover higher increases on other supplies.
- We increase prices on different parts of the menu at different times of the year – so little that customers don’t notice.
- This year everything went up by $1.
- We print our menus 4 times/year and adjust prices with costs.
- We raised them 7% and had no push back from customers.
- My customers don’t care if we raise prices as long as we serve quality products.
- My customers were upset but understand that things are expensive.
What is your policy for delivery driver insurance?
- We don’t charge anything.
- $4 for a 25 mile range.
- $.25 per mile.
- We don’t charge for delivery – we pay the drivers $8-10/hour and they average $5/house in tips – we only allow up to 2 houses per run so that the pizza stays hot.
- $2 per delivery and the drivers keep all tips.
- $4 per delivery with an average ticket of $35.
- We drive junker cars - I purchase them for $500 or less, claim the federal allowance of $.54/mile and we’ve paid for the car, our drivers gets minimum wage plus tips.
- One of my drivers got into an accident and his insurance wouldn’t cover it so I now carry delivery driver insurance to cover myself and them.
- I have heard that the drivers’ insurance companies will cover accidents but people just tend to go after who has more money.
- My drivers are required to have covered insurance for themselves but I carry some as well.
- I have only found one company that excludes delivery drivers from their policies.
With the price of fuel cost we offer free delivery for 5 miles and $1/mile after that. Does anyone else compensate for fuel cost?
- If you take the actual costs for each delivery it is really pennies; to simplify, we just add that minimal fee to each delivery.
- The drivers are always going to complain – we charge for delivery so that we cover delivery expenses without charging all of our customers.
Does anyone give away free food?
Are there any good employee incentive programs that don’t involve cash?
- We charge for everything – it’s our business.
- We give the employees free food – when they’ve worked for 6-10 hours; otherwise, they pay cost and make it themselves.
- Be careful about giving food away – you will need to fill out a 1099 form.
- We give 30% off for employees and their families who come when they’re not working.
- We have free food to all employees at all times – it encourages loyalty.
Can we charge more for credit card purchases?
- We take the employees to local events like races, rodeos, go-cart tracks, etc.
- We give away a European trip for two – they can buy tickets to win the trip for $1/each.
- We give the waiters and waitresses who sell the most of the day’s special a free meal.
- We have an ongoing contest where the bartender who sells the most of the specialty beer get a night off where their manager will work for them and give them all of the tips.
Is anyone using online ordering?
- Definitely – the gas stations do it and we should too.
Anyone selling gluten-free pizza?
- Was 10% of our sales last year.
- Our online average check price is usually higher than phone or in room.
- We pay $50 a month, but it is worth the price.
- I don’t even have a website for my restaurant let alone online ordering or an app.
- 30% of my orders come in online or through apps.
- My customers don’t want to be put on hold when they’re ordering, why not give them an option to go online or use an app?
- We did over a $250,000 in online ordering last year.
Does anyone discount lazy customers?
- We order gluten-free dough so we don’t have to deal with having flour around it. We have a small oven in the back because we don’t have room in the kitchen.
- We have a “gluten-free” pizza but we don’t keep it away from the other areas of kitchen; we have notices so people understand that it may possibly be contaminated.
- All of our flour is rice flour, we have been certified as gluten-free establishment.
- It takes a lot of steps to make sure our pizzas are gluten-free; when we started the GF pizzas were getting mixed up with other ingredients so now we are only using rice flour and don’t have to worry about cross contamination.
- We ask the customer if they are intolerant or if a lifestyle choice. For celiac intolerant, we take more precautions.
- We realized that we had to research all ingredients to make sure they don’t have gluten in them before serving.
- Be careful, if you make someone sick, you are done.
Anyone using LivingSocial or Groupon?
- I don’t reward my customers for bad behavior – coupon shopping, discount dealers, giving lazy customers discounts, etc.
- I don’t want to reward customers for not buying; this causes loss in repeat returns - I reward loyal customers.
- I give special deals to new and loyal customers and reminders to lazy customers.
- I have found that people who buy the coupons tend to be good returning customers.
- Some people only come with Groupons, for us as restaurant owners, we need returning customers so we can’t make enough off of them.
- We will continue to use coupons in slow times because customers tend to be happy with it.
- We wouldn’t use again - they wouldn’t purchase more than the deal and were bad tippers.
- It was a bad decision - we only got deal shoppers.
When seeking ways to add interest to their menus, it makes sense for pizzeria and casual dining operators to look south of the border for ideas. However incorporating exotic-sounding ingredients and unfamiliar recipes can be intimidating. At the recent Culinary Institute of America’s 2009 Latin Flavor conference, chefs provided practical strategies for expanding the culinary horizons of the consumer with Latin American inspired dishes.
The following excerpts from Restaurant Menu Trends: Authenticity vs. Accessibility in Latin American Dishes, by Christine LaFave Grace, was published in Restaurants and Institutions, October 28, 2009.
“Thanks in part to shifting demographics (people of Hispanic origin now represent 15% of the U.S. population) and the influence of popular cooking shows that spotlight Latin cuisines (Rick Bayless’‘Mexico – One Plate at a Time,’ for example), Americans are increasingly familiar with and accepting of a variety of Latin American staple ingredients and dishes, from chiles, black beans and coconut milk to tortas, tamales and ceviches. This means that operators, and not just those specializing in Latin cuisine, can find success in menuing more-traditional south-of-the-border-fare.
“More globally conscious though they’ve become, most American diners aren’t likely to latch on to, say, a Caribbean curried goat stew anytime soon. At The Culinary Institute of America’s 2009 Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference in San Antonio in mid-October, Wilo Benet [restaurant owner and master chef] and more than a half-dozen other chef panelists offered their perspectives on authenticity and accessibility on menus.
‘‘Flavor to me still is the reigning parameter,’ said Benet, noting that flavor profiles more so than ingredients or preparations determine whether a menu item will find favor with guests (and generate word-of-mouth buzz). And today more than ever before, ‘You have to make sure that intensity of flavor is there,” he said. “Intensity seems to be what people are yearning for across the board.’
“Of course, creating intensity doesn’t mean adding chiles, spices such as cumin or herbs such as epazote with wild abandon. Chefs, in their enthusiasm for favorite (or new-to-them) ingredients, can easily go overboard. ‘It’s like how you should never know that cloves are in a dish,’ said Robert Del Grande, chef-owner of Cafe Annie in Houston and another panelist. ‘If you taste [a dish] and it screams cloves, it’s probably too much.’
“Del Grande’s advice: ‘Find the familiar ground first [with ingredients].’ Tacos and sandwiches are familiar presentations; diners may be more likely to try out-of-the-ordinary proteins or produce when the ingredients are stuffed into an always-approachable tortilla or crusty roll.
“How, then, to persuade diners to make the jump out of their culinary comfort zones? Don’t overexplain what you’re serving, Del Grande said. ‘You get them to try something new by making less of a big deal about it,’ he said. A dish’s description on the menu needn’t recreate the recipe–operators don’t need to call out every ingredient and preparation method employed (no matter how true to tradition each is). A brief summary of primary components will suffice for most diners. Those who know what’s ‘authentic’ and what’s not for a particular dish and are interested in learning more likely won’t hesitate to ask their server.
“In the end, Benet said, it’s easier for operators to encourage diners to explore new flavors when chefs allow for a little creative interpretation of traditional recipes. ‘Too authentic is not always the answer,’ he said. ‘A little tweaking to present [a dish] to a public that has certain likings is far better.’”
Liz Hertz is the Marketing Director of Burke Corporation.
What are your consumers looking for? Healthy or comfort food, small or large portions – check out the list of Foodservice at Retail trends & topics we compiled from the 2011 Foodservice at Retail Exchange (FARE) in Phoenix, Arizona in late June.
- Healthy is here to stay - consumers want options, which are well-balanced and portioned correctly, made with fresh ingredients, and grilled vs. fried. But most importantly they also crave healthy options that have been inspired by creativity and just plain taste good.
- Increased growth in morning & snack meal categories - consumers are time starved and are looking for added convenience and something new in the morning like bacon flights or breakfast tacos. The definition of the snack category has evolved over the years and consumers are looking for something trendy to tie them over like items on a stick for portability or signature entrees options offered as small plates.
- Changing (and very diverse) demographics - baby boomers are still dominating the market place but have more controlled spending unlike Generation Y who are optimists and have looser strings on their wallets. Also, the Asian population continues to rise and they are not afraid to spend money.
- Using technology to connect with your customers - it is no secret the way consumers interact with a brand happens a lot through the Internet, social media and new technology formats. Companies should own their online presence and take advantage of social media to engage with your customers.
- Consumers are seeking authenticity and local - whether it be Thai or Mexican, consumers have the taste buds for something authentic. And if not authentic, they prefer to be eating something locally grown/sourced.
- Food trucks - If your customer can’t come to you, go to your customer. This hot new trend makes it easy for a convenience store foodservice do to just that and easily adds profit to the bottom line.
About FARE: The FARE conference was held by CSPnet and attended by convenience store foodservice and other retail hosts such as college/universities and supermarkets. It was a successful show and provided a chance for food-on-the-go industry leaders to network and learn about trends, challenges and changes facing their industry.
For regularly updated industry trends, follow our blog.
When you differentiate your pizza, you create magnetism. Hungry consumers are attracted to an identifiable difference. Because a specialty helps you stand out from the crowd, you’re more likely to be first choice when it’s time to select the place to go for pizza.
1. Offer gluten-free pizza.
A growing number of pizzerias are offering alternative options for those who suffer from celiac disease. Those whose diet must be gluten free will bring their friends to your place. Premade, gluten-free crusts are now available frozen. Some pizzerias like to add a disclaimer to their menus because wheat flour is part of the pizzeria environment. Click here to read about the trend or request information about precooked gluten-free meats.
Courtesy of Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN)
2. Serve an authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Play up the romance of an Italian legend. In 1889, when Queen Margherita of Savoy was served a pizza in Naples with the colors of the Italian flag, she liked it so much, it was named after her. Now the Associzione Verace Pizza Napoletana certifies, through a strict process, authentic Marinara and Margherita pizzas. At this time, only 50 pizzerias have been VPN-certified since 1998, but 10 have happened in the past six months. The certification takes a couple of months and is intended to preserve original flavors.
3. Offer green to go.
Eco-awareness means developments in packaging. Along with carry-out pizza boxes made with a high percentage of post-consumer waste, there’s the Greenbox made of 100% recycled material. It breaks down into serving plates and a storage container for leftovers.
4. Try out a Pizza Cone.
Popular in Europe, Pizza Cones, which are dough in a cone shape filled with pizza ingredients, are getting a lot of play in America. Especially good for grab ‘n go eating, Pizza Cones are available par-baked, filled or unfilled.
Image courtesy of CrispyCones
5. Go ‘round the clock.
Imagine being the go-to place in the off hours. It’s working successfully in a pizzeria close to Ohio’s Dayton University, where students are hungry 24/7. The breakfast pizza, like a quiche, is selling very well too. More breakfast pizza ideas for your restaurant.
6. Try pizza tapas-style.
Based on the small-plates trend, personal, bite-sized pizzas could be offered topped with gourmet ingredients—specially seasoned meats, unexpected combinations of vegetables, spices and flavorful sauces—as appetizers or a selection of several for a main course.
7. Build on a grander crust.
In the search for gluten-free crusts, some pizzerias are emerging into a new area. Whole grains, up to ten in a single recipe, including buckwheat, quinoa and nut flours, and even acai berries have been found popular as crust ingredients. The antioxidant properties are popular with the health-conscious consumer.
8. Use artisan cheeses.
Specialty cheeses pack a lot of flavor in a small package and have cachet. Though artisan cheese costs more per pound, you can use much less for the same flavor impact.
9. Search out local produce.
Ed Zimmerman, president of pizza.com, says “This is the easiest, least expensive way to stay on the two hottest food trends—local ingredients and sustainability.” He recommends visiting local farm markets and buying produce from a farmer whom you can then use in your promotion.
10. Offer more nutritional topping choices.
Pizza is mistakenly considered a food to avoid when dieting. However, if you offer the right toppings it can actually be well-balanced option for your more health conscious patrons. Aside from the obvious vegetable choices, offer lower-fat proteins such as ham or chicken.
For regularly updated industry trends, follow our blog
Trends were percolating at NRA Show 2011. Burke toured the show to discover products and services that are reflecting new or popular ideas. Take a look and capture the advantages for your operation.
1. Using websites and social media well
Yelp, Groupon, Facebook, LivingSocial and Google all exhibited at NRA Show 2011. Their attendance underscored the importance of restaurants owning their online brand presence and using social media to connect with customers.
Groupon introduced a new concept at its booth called Groupon Now! in which restaurants can fill slow times with a smaller offer. Groupon Now! has been introduced in Chicago and will be expanding to other cities.
2. Evolving ordering with technology and apps
Tablet technology is going tableside for waitstaff to take orders more efficiently. Applications are being used for interactive digital ordering or menu replacement.
Hospitality Social has created an iPad application that acts as a personal sommelier for customers, choosing a wine based on preferences of flavor, region, price, for example, or pairing with an entrée.
Exhibitors were showing takeout containers and cups that were recyclable and biodegradable. Special liquid dispensers for clean, natural drinking water were shown. Booths displayed materials for interiors, furniture and flooring made from recycled or eco-friendly materials. Lighting and appliances were being promoted for their energy efficiency. An increased awareness of recycling receptacles for restaurants was also evident.
4. Continued importance of food safety
We found a small device that prints labels with shelf life information and pens that can easily write that information on steam table pans.
5. Food on the streets
At this year’s NRA Show a special section was dedicated to the education and experience of the mobile food movement with trucks on the show floor.
6. The influence of Asia
The international section of the show displayed primarily Asian foods, and many vendors outside of this section were also highlighting Asian-inspired flavors.
7. Other service, flavor and beverage ideas
Disposable, self-adhesive placemats for children would make spills less likely. There were numerous buffalo-flavored foods and menu concepts. Multiple flavored iced coffee machines were on display. And Coca-Cola won the Kitchen Innovation Award with a touch-screen fountain drink machine that offered more than 100 beverage choices in a single machine.
For more information about Burke fully cooked meat products, visit www.BurkeCorp.com.
Menu items include pizzas, calzones, pasta, appetizers, soups, entrees, salads and more from some of our most popular literature:
Great marketing ideas from Pizza Expo 2011 seminars
At packed Pizza Expo workshops, attendees learned the ins and outs of using social and online media and marketing to grow their businesses from experts in the fields.
“Tell Me Your Story—Viral Marketing”
Big Dave Ostrander, also known as “The Pizza Doctor,” has successfully advised start-up pizzerias to multinational pizza chains. “There are two types of viral marketing—word-of-mouth and the internet,” said Ostrander in his session.
He advised that since consumers are receiving information at the speed of light and want to retrieve it at any time, operators need to make sure their communication is accessible around the clock. Ostrander stressed the importance of communicating to consumers the same way that they communicate to each other, which means not only using a conversational tone (true to your brand), but also using social media.
- People use their cell phones not so much for making calls, but for texting and accessing the internet, especially the younger generation.
- Facebook and Twitter are essentially word-of-mouth marketing in an online form
- With 600 million users and because it’s personal, Facebook can be a powerful communication tool.
“From Websites to Email to Everything Social Media: What You Really Need to Know That’s Going to Increase Your Sales and Not Waste Your Time”
Joel Cohen has a national reputation for advising agencies on restaurant marketing. He told attendees that websites are now the most important part of marketing efforts and offered the following tips:
- Be sure to include up-to-date company information such as hours, address, phone, online ordering information, and most importantly, a current menu.
- Use real images of your menu items. Stock photos aren’t necessarily appetizing nor a good representation of your products.
- Reduce heavy graphics so your webpage loads quickly.
- Use keywords on every page of your website so it will be captured by Google’s search engines.
- Claim your business names at yelp.com, urbanspoon.com and insiderpages.com.
Cohen also pointed out that email is the second most important part of online marketing and gave these hints:
- The best day to send emails to consumers is Saturday morning as customers are more relaxed and have more time to spend on their email. The worst day to send email is Tuesday and Wednesday as this is when most people unsubscribe to email.
- Subject line—Be sure to include keywords such as the name of your restaurant. Indicate that it’s part of a series that they opted in for or elected to receive with words such as “update” or “newsletter”. Don’t include words such as “offer”, “reward” or “discount” as it could look like spam.
For more tips and ideas, download Burke’s social media brochure.
To continue this conversation, please leave us acomment at the bottom of this post or email us at BurkeBlog@BurkeCorp.com.