Foodservice at Retail Presents Growth OpportunitiesFoodservice at Retail Presents Growth Opportunities
August 24, 2009
SCHAUMBURG, IllThe second annual Foodservice at Retail Expo (FARE) took place Aug. 17 to 19 in Schaumburg, Ill. Following a successful debut in 2008, this year FARE included more than 50 exhibitors and an educational program attended by more than 500 professionals involved in nontraditional foodservice. The goal of FARE is to bring this varied group of foodservice experts together to discuss the changes, challenges and choices facing foodservice across retail channels such as convenience stores, bookstores, outdoor kiosks and more.
The opening sessionTheory of Parallels: A Channel Panel Discussionexplored the idea that if something works well in one business or industry, with a few tweaks here and there, it may succeed in another. This panel discussion was hosted by foodservice marketing expert Ira Blumenthal, and included representatives from three unique foodservice channels: Dave Prentkowski, executive director of foodservice, The University of Notre Dame; Brian Krockey, director of foodservice, Brookfield Zoo; and Bruce Taffet, former executive vice president, United Artists. The panelists identified their successes, as well as their on-going operational, service and menu challenges.
Prentkowski explained that college foodservice is so much more than dorm food. There really is no such thing as college foodservice, he said. He identified the various venuesfrom cafeterias to grab-and-go and quick-serve spots, and special events and sports venuesfor which his department provides food and beverage.
The Brookfield Zoo, which is the second-largest zoo in the country after San Diego, has many unique challenges. For one, Krockey said that because the zoo is owned by the county, visitors can bring in their own food and beverages. This, of course, competes with the zoos foodservice sales. As a result, Krockey explained how the zoos menu constantly gets updated and includes so much more than hot dogs, pizza and hamburgers. Sushi is one of our biggest sellers, he said.
Movie theaters differ from the zoo, as outside food and beverages are not allowed. Taffet said that the concessions have minutes to make movie goers a sale, so the popcorn machine has to be popping constantly. The concessions are where we make money, he said. Though theater concessions have experimented with better-for-you offerings, the fact is, when you go to the theater, you want to treat yourself, he said. The movies remain one of the few affordable forms of entertainment.
Taffet believes that while many movie theater companies are trying out expanded food menusfrom breakfast pastries to crab cakes to coffee barstraining the workforce to produce such items can be challenging. Fully prepared items that only require warming are the best bet.
These panelists confirmed that regardless of channel, convenience and consistent quality are essential for providing customers variety in the competitive foodservice channel.
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