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Perdue Joins All-Natural Crusade with Antibiotic-Free Harvestland Line

Posted by Dale Buss on March 4, 2014 06:20 PM

Antiobiotic-free chicken has come home to roost in the US market. The "Eat Like Your Ancestors" campaign just launched by Perdue for its antibiotic-free chickens is the latest evidence of that.

Chicken raised without antibiotics still comprises only about 9 percent of the $9 to $10 billion US chicken market, according to NPR. But the trend is definitely moving in that direction as supermarket suppliers of chicken, such as Perdue, join an increasing number of fast-food chains, including Chick-fil-A, in making antibiotic-free birds available and pledging to stop using chicken that has been raised with antibiotics.

Chipotle, of course, was a leader in this movement by going antibiotic-free more than a decade ago and calling for "humane housing standards" for chicken suppliers. More so, its recent short film, "The Scarecrow" and its new satirical series, "Farmed & Dangerous," have fingered an "industrialized" food industry for continuing to rely on antibiotics and other less-than-optimal food sourcing tactics. Continue reading...

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For Taco Bell, There's No Waffling About Breakfast: It's Go Time

Posted by Dale Buss on February 25, 2014 05:49 PM

For fast-food fans, the best part of waking up has become more options for breakfast. Taco Bell plans to roll out breakfast across the country by the end of next month, while McDonald's is acceding to popular demands from America to Spain to extend its breakfast hours.

Taco Bell began testing "First Meal" two years ago, its centerpiece being the Waffle Taco that is filled with either bacon or sausage, and scrambled eggs and cheese, served with syrup in a portable package. And there's the A.M. Crunchwrap, Taco Bell's version of a breakfast sandwich, which includes scrambled eggs, hash brown, melted cheese, and bacon, sausage or steak in a griddled tortilla. There's also a tie-in with Cinnabon for tiny Cinnabon Delights.

The complexity of such items and the fact that Taco Bell is rolling out breakfast nationwide in March, to about 5,500 participating units, underscore the seriousness with which the chain is approaching the day part, as it and all QSR competitors face all sorts of competitive squeezes these days.Continue reading...

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Kraft Propelled by Protein, All-Natural Trends Post Mondelez Split

Posted by Dale Buss on February 21, 2014 12:07 PM

Less than two years after Kraft Foods and Mondelez International split, the separation is beginning to work out for Kraft as it was designed: The company is finding ways to goose growth with the stable of traditional US grocery brands that comprise the new company.

Kraft's improved performance over this period is more evident in higher profit margins, while its revenues have only ticked up a bit. But what excites Kraft executives and investors is that CEO Tony Vernon is finding ways to make new, potentially more profitable propositions out of more products under venerable brands such as Oscar Mayer, Velveeta, Philadelphia, Maxwell House and Planters.

And Vernon is doing it in a way that tacks directly with the sea change in the CPG business toward better-for-you foods, beverages and ingredients.Continue reading...

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Burger King Puts More Weight Behind Big King in Its Battle with Big Mac

Posted by Dale Buss on February 18, 2014 03:50 PM

Burger King may have come up with a great way to kick rival McDonald's when it's down: Go after the Golden Arches' signature product.

That's what Burger King is doing with new improvements to its three-month-old Big King sandwich, which now will have 0.8 ounces more beef than the Big Mac. The chain has been testing the beefier new Big King at 200 locations in South Florida and experiencing a 10 percent jump in guest-satisfaction scores, said the Motley Fool.

And this week, Burger King began bragging about its newly improved burger in advertising, saying that "size matters. That's why the Big King just got bigger. Now with a quarter pound of beef" vs. McDonald's 3.2 ounces in the Big Mac, "freshly fire grilled."Continue reading...

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After Conquering Mexican Fare, Chipotle Looks to Apply Model to Asian, Pizza

Posted by Dale Buss on February 13, 2014 04:54 PM

Chipotle has been defining and redefining Mexican fast-casual food for some time now. Is there any reason to think it can't have the same kind of determinative effect in two other segments the company is eyeing for future growth?

While Chipotle has been racking up impressive sales gains and prompting desperate rivals to mimic its sustainable-ingredient positioning and other brand elements, the company also has been experimenting in earnest in Asian fare and artisan pizza, two categories where so far national brands haven't become prominent.

ShopHouse is designed to follow the same model as Chipotle, with guests building their meals as they walk the service line.Continue reading...

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Chipotle Leads Parade of QSR Brands Joining In On Sustainable Food

Posted by Dale Buss on February 12, 2014 05:19 PM

Looking for ways to jump-start a sluggish fast food market in the US, more brands are tacking toward sustainability positioning and "clean" ingredients as the king of that approach, Chipotle, doubles down on its own efforts as profits continue to rise. 

Latest to move in this direction are Chick-fil-A and Long John Silver's. The seafood chain said that it's planning a major brand relaunch this year, with a new tagline, "Think fish," that includes TV spots with environmental messaging, according to Ad Age.

"Anyone ever heard of free range?" a voiceover narrates one ad. "Get your next meal from the real frontier—fish sustainably harvested from the wildest place on earth."Continue reading...

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McDonald's Global Challenge: Fight Sluggishness at Home, Build Relevance Abroad

Posted by Dale Buss on February 11, 2014 03:51 PM

It's not easy being a global brand, even if you're McDonald's, as you still have to succeed locally. It's possible that its continuing domestic US sales woes are mostly due to treacherous winter weather and a bad new product bet or two. But it's also possible that the chain and the brand are reaching the end of once-outsized relevance to the American consumer as it continues to face food health and labor critics.

Until it becomes evident which scenario is true, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson is relying on improved performance in key international markets to offset the brand's frustrations in the United States. He will rely on incoming US CMO Deborah Wahl to help him tackle the larger issue of McDonald's actual place in its home market. The auto industry marketing veteran is still transitioning into her new role, which she formally assumes on March 3.

The chain reported that US same-restaurant sales fell by more than 3 percent in the first quarter, or about double the percentage decline expected by analysts. Thompson blamed the snow and cold but analysts cited the continued sluggishness of the US economy. But of course, it could be the third factor: American consumers have gotten used to bypassing McDonald's more and more.Continue reading...

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You Might Just Visit the Golden Arches After Seeing Making-of McNuggets Video

Posted by Dale Buss on February 5, 2014 05:44 PM

Afraid to see how McDonald's Chicken McNuggets really are made? You won't be after you see a new video about the process made and proudly displayed by McDonald's of Canada.

At a time of broad concern about "pink slime" in beef and general questioning of how fast food is put together—stoked in part, of course, by the all-natural marketing efforts by Chipotle and others—McDonald's has taken a bold new step toward greater transparency that provides a look inside supplier Cargill's facility in London, Ontario.

"Customers want to hear more about transparency," McDonald's embattled CEO, Don Thompson, told investors on an earnings call in October. "They want to hear about provenance and where the food is from." Among other such steps, McDonald's plans to hunt down more "sustainable" beef for its supplies.Continue reading...

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