Innovative Food Waste Solutions

Blink:                                                                                                                                          Food waste in America is a topic about which I am deeply concerned.  I last provided an update a little over a year ago.  Recently I read about several innovative food waste solutions that piqued my interest which I want to share with my readership today.

Read On:

  • Transfernation is a NYC-based online platform that connects corporations which operate registered events with social institutions that feed the hungry. Bottom-line: They are making donating food easy.  When an event is nearing conclusion, organizers can utilize Transfernation’s app to notifying potential volunteers who will transport and deliver leftover food to shelters and food banks.  Their process reduces food waste.
  • Another app is Food Cowboy (founded in Washington D.C.) that uses geo-location technology to redirect discarded food from dumpsters to hunger relief groups.
  • Cerplus operating out of the San Francisco Bay Area focuses in on surplus recovery to reduce food waste – growers and food purveyors who want to reduce their loses are connected with buyers looking to reduce their costs utilizing produce that would otherwise go to waste.

I have just scratched the surface detailing some of the innovative food waste solutions that are being funded by venture capitalists across the country.  Combined, we should witness a significant decline in the overall statistic that 40 percent of America’s food supply is being wasted.

What are you doing to reduce food waste in America?

In Between

Blink:                                                                                                                                              Personal goal: The desired result (end-point) that a person envisions, plans and commits to achieve.

 Read On:                                                                                                                                      “Everyone wants to have a goal: I gotta get to that goal. I gotta get to that goal. I gotta get to that goal.  Then you get to that goal, and then you gotta get to another goal.  But in between goals is a thing called life that has to be lived and enjoyed – and if you don’t, you’re a fool!”  – Sid Caesar (Comedian)

 Are you ready to take some timeout this summer to leave your goals at home, unplug and enjoy life!

Gamification – An Update

Blink:                                                                                                                                              I will be presenting a program at the National Restaurant Show Sunday with my friend Lisa Eberhart, world class dietician from NCSU – Well Played: Gamifying Health & Wellness.  Consequently, I had to conduct some research, thus learned some new things about gamification, a topic I am passionate about.

Read On:                                                                                                                                        I first posted about gamification five years ago, Gamification USA.  The term gamification was first coined by Gabe Zichermann, the world’s foremost expert, speaker and author of several books dating back to 2010.  Abe’s simple definition: “Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game dynamics to engage audiences and solve problems.” 

 Over the years, I have witnessed gamification utilized in foodservice in the form of loyalty programs (Starbucks), pizza dough scavenger hunts (CPK), a sandwich game (Schlotzky’s Deli – Stackin’ the Original), etc.  Lisa Eberhart, my co-presenter at the National Restaurant Show, will share with the audience how she is utilizing several games with her student guests at North Carolina State University to educate and hopefully change their behavior.  Specifically, NCSU’s games are designed to encourage students to follow a daily health and wellness regime.

Gamification is definitely a clever/fun way to encourage behavioral change.  One great example I read while preparing for my speech was a news release about former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Sandra Day O’Connor.  After retiring, she started iCivics, a non-profit civics education group that designs free online games (e.g., animated) enabling middle school students to better understand how different branches of government and the Constitution work.  Her latest digital game which has been played by more than 250,000 students is called Win the White House.  Given the current political climate of our country, I think I will get online tonight and play Justice O’Connor’s new game.


Shameless Self Promotion: Please feel free to join Lisa and me Sunday 5/22: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Room: S402a at the National Restaurant Show to learn more about gamification.

Never Solo

Blink:                                                                                                                                                A recent Hartman Group newsletter featured an article titled “Evolving Trend In Eating Occasions: All By Myself.”  Their research indicates nearly half (46 percent) of all adult eating occasions are completely alone.  Are they?  Not quite!  Every time I witness someone eating solo they are surgically attached to their smartphone.

Read On:                                                                                                                                         The Hartman Group report detailed solo eating by the numbers.  Breakfast is the meal most people (53 percent) eat alone.  The numbers of solo eating for snacking are considerably higher than any meal daypart, especially early and mid-morning.  They then analyzed seven key attitudes and/or behaviors behind eating alone.  Number one?  Respondents (43 percent) indicated: when I eat alone, I can catch up on reading or watching TV programs I like.  Further down the list, 18 percent of the respondents indicated: I eat alone to multi-task better.

Given approximately 190 million Americans own smartphones (comScore March 2015), I recommend Hartman revise their study and document how many people eat with their smartphones.  More specifically, what percentage are connecting in real time to someone via their social networking platforms.

When was the last time you ate solo without your smartphone?



Coming To Your Theaters Soon

Blink:                                                                                                                                  Recently, Adam Aron CEO of AMC Entertainment announced that his company was considering allowing theater patrons to text during movies.  A social media storm ensued; Adam then indicated they would be leaving the idea on “the cutting room floor.”   However, I predict texting will be coming to your theaters soon.

Read On:                                                                                                                                       In a Variety magazine interview, Aron discussed targeting consumers who do not see movies frequently, specifically Millennials.  Consequently, to appeal to Millennials, he believes if they can work on the logistics of not disturbing other members of the audience, texting should be allowed.  “When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow. You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life.”

Immediately AMC experienced a social media backlash, thus they decided to shelf the idea.  Peace among movie goers was restored.  However, I believe given the potential spending power of the Millennials, AMC will figure out how to facilitate texting in their theaters.  Rationale: 1.) AMC will want to increase its overall ticket revenue.  Millennials is one of the key demographics they are targeting, thus it would behoove them to make their theaters text friendly (Instagram and Snapchat too!); and 2.) AMC is now competing for consumers’ fair share of food dollars.  Some of their locations are new Dine-in MegaPlex theaters that sell everything from popcorn and raisinets to burgers (five types including one vegetarian), chicken sandwiches, salads, sushi rolls with sriracha mayo and crisped Brussels sprouts.  Some of their complexes have cafes (MacGuffins) adjacent to the theaters with a similar menu plus adult beverages.  Further utilizing technology (beacons) they will be able to text specials to their patrons to further drive concession sales and profit.

Watch out!  Whether you like it or not, texting will be coming to your theaters soon!



Exclusivity 2.0

Blink:                                                                                                                                              Exclusivity is a marketing tactic (a.k.a. ploy) that is utilized to lure consumers to buy a special product or service.  It appears that marketers are now leveraging visual social platforms (Instagram, Snapchat) to capitalize on people’s obsession to capture/experience the moment – Exclusivity 2.0.

Read On:                                                                                                                                    The Coachella Music and Arts Festival begins this week.  Sonic, in a first-of-its-kind partnership with Instagram celebrity Chef Jacques La Merde (Christine Flynn) will be introducing #SquareShakes.  The shakes were designed (square tray and straw) to be solely promoted on Instagram.  They were inspired by Sonic’s new Creamery Shakes line and will be available to festival goers via geo-targeted sponsored ads.  Exclusivity 2.0.

Are QR codes dead?  Not according to market leader Burberry.  They will be the first brand to utilize Snapchat’s QR-style “Snapcode” feature to provide exclusive content to their consumers when they are in their stores – various ad campaigns, fashion tips, etc.  Exclusivity 2.0.

Exclusivity 2.0 – fad or future trend?



Food on Demand 2.0


Blink:                                                                                                                                          Walked in my building’s mailroom yesterday and spotted two cases of Blue Apron, the new meal kit concept that is gaining popularity.  To me another sign of how the consumer demand for convenience foods is morphing.  Welcome to the era of food on demand 2.0.

Read On:                                                                                                                                     Thanks to our time starved society, consumers are utilizing numerous digital tools to order, pay for their food and then either schedule a pickup or delivery time from anywhere.  Detailed below are some leading options.

  • Retailers – Do you still like to cook after a long day of work? Giant Food is partnering with Peapod the delivery service in Washington D.C.  Your pre-ordered groceries will be waiting for you in a locker at your local Metro Station.  Leading New England retailer Hannaford tested and now has expanded its Hannaford to Go lanes where their customers can pick-up their pre-ordered food without leaving their cars.  Foursquare recently announced they will be offering a grocery delivery service (e.g., wines & spirits, restaurant food and dry cleaning too!).  Throw into the mix two other established services Fresh Direct, Instacart and a new entry from Google.
  • Foodservice – In addition to all the available delivery services we have been utilizing like GrubHub, disruptive innovators like Uber and Amazon are now entering the playing field and will rely on technology to coordinate food delivery logistics.
  • Meal Kits – Consumers now have numerous options as it relates to delivered meal kits; order regular meals via Blue Apron, Hello Fresh or vegan meals from Purple Carrot.

Options, options, options.  How is everyone (retailers, foodservice operators and meal kits) going to compete effectively?  So, so many players!  Will there be some fallout?  I do not have the answer, but this much I do know.  I live in an apartment building with one small loading zone in front of the building.  On a given evening I can only imagine during peak delivery hours a scene comparable to bumper cars at an amusement park.  At the same time, I envision the local Chinese delivery person still pedaling up on their bike.

Welcome to the era of food on demand 2.0.