Week of July 26, 2010

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Starbucks Third Quarter Sales and Profits Rise
Seattle-based Starbucks Corporation has reported third-quarter results for the period ended June 27, with sales up 8.7 per cent to US$2.61-billion and a 37 per cent rise in profits to US$207.9 million. The same-store sales increased nine per cent due to a six per cent increase in traffic and a three per cent increase in average check. These results follow the closing of almost 900 locations since 2008. There were two principal factors that led to the gains, including the success of Frappuccinos and Vivannos. The blended beverages were responsible for about two percentage points of the U.S. gain, according to CEO, Howard Schultz, while the successful launch of Starbucks’ VIA Ready Brew sold in approximately 37,000 points of distribution in North America, U.K. and Japan. The drinks bring Starbucks more than $2 billion a year in sales, about 20 per cent of its total revenue. “Our Q3 investments provide us with a very solid foundation for growth in fiscal 2011 and beyond,” said Schultz.

Can Wine-Fed Beef Challenge Kobe Beef?
If Bill Freding gets his way, Canadian wine-fed beef could become the premium Kobe beef of Canada. The owner of the Oliver, B.C.-based Southern Plus Feedlots has been working on the idea with a Kelowna, B.C., winery since November when some of his cattle was fed the equivalent of about one glass of wine a day to supplement their grain diet in the 90 days leading up to slaughter. Freding is trying to create a product equal to Japan’s Kobe beef, where Wagyu cattle are fed a beer a day and massaged with saki before slaughter. Freding describes the meat as more tender than other varieties. “It’s a brighter red,” he told the QMI Agency. “It’s got a different flavour, but I wouldn’t like to say it was definitely a wine flavour, or anything, but it definitely has a sweeter flavour to it.”

Wine-fed beef is one of several innovations being considered by the recently formed Association of B.C. Abattoirs, which is meeting for two days at Thompson Guest Ranch, just outside Kamloops. The group’s challenge is figuring out how to handle the fact that 90 per cent of the cattle raised in B.C. is shipped to Alberta before slaughter. “We need to differentiate our product from the commodity beef,” Freding was quoted as saying in the Kamloops Daily News. New initiatives include the creation of a new brand called Okanagan’s Finest, beef that is raised, finished and processed there. In the Cariboo, B.C. region 14 ranches are co-operating on a regional marketing effort under the Healthy Steps Grass-Fed Beef label. They are also considering creating a label similar to the VQA wine label but for B.C. beef.

McDonald’s Quarterly Income Rises
McDonald’s Corp., Oak Brook, Ill., earned US$1.23 billion for the three months that ended June 30, up from last year’s net income of US$1.09 billion. Revenue rose five per cent to US$5.95 billion, up from US$5.65 billion last year. Same-store sales increased by 4.8 per cent during the quarter, due to a gain of 3.7 per cent in the U.S., a 5.2 per cent spike in Europe and 4.6 per cent increase in other select regions. U.S. operating income climbed seven per cent to US$895.1 million, while U.S. revenue rose two per cent to US$2.08 billion.

Starbucks Teams with Evergreen
Gourmet coffee giant Starbucks is asking customers to feed the environment by “pledging to do some green” this summer as part of the company’s drive to support the not-for-profit green group Evergreen. The pledges, which can be submitted on Starbucks’ Facebook page, will be directed to Evergreen’s stewardship and restoration program. Starbucks and Evergreen have long been partners in environmental advocacy, and this year’s partnership will up the ante by getting more than 2,000 Starbucks’ employees involved in planting, protecting and maintaining natural grounds. “Partnerships such as this are integral to the continued success of Evergreen and our ability to support community-driven efforts that make our communities more livable,” common grounds program director for Evergreen, said in a press release.

Vancouver’s Table Top Group Earns More Honours
The Top Table Group, Vancouver, has announced executive chef Frank Pabst of Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar and restaurant director Brian Hopkins of West will be inducted into the British Columbia Restaurant Hall of Fame Sept. 27. Founded six years ago by the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, the award honours those, “who have demonstrated exceptional professionalism working in the restaurant industry by making their restaurant a special experience.” Top Table Group proprietor Jack Evrensel, himself a 2007 Hall of Fame inductee, commented: “This is a true distinction and a great honour for Frank and Brian, as well as being a real credit to the other team members in their respective restaurants.” In May, the Evrensel group of five restaurants garnered an unprecedented 17 awards at Vancouver magazine’s prestigeous Restaurant Awards, including the gold award for Restaurant of the Year, which went to the Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar.

Toronto Grocery Chain Reports Sales Jump in Ready-to-Eat Category
Longo’s, a Toronto retail grocer, has reported that a third of the food sold at its urban stores is prepared fresh for takeout, compared to the six or eight per cent sold in its traditional suburban locations. The 21-store family owned Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc. has three urban Market locations as small as 7,000 sq. ft. but is planning to open its first supermarket-size downtown location in Maple Leaf Square, adjacent to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. In addition to a normal hot counter for lunch and dinner, it will feature a Longo’s Kitchen, which will provide a variety of heat-and-serve entrées, side dishes, pre-packed vegetables and salads. In an interview with the Toronto Star, president and CEO Anthony Longo said that the company has always supported local farmers, featured the freshest foods and followed environmentally responsible practices. “Our competitors talk about it as if it’s a new thing,” he said. Longo’s also has the largest online grocery retail presence in Canada, having purchased online grocery retailer Grocery Gateway in 2004. (See also “Prepared Grocery Foods Threaten Restaurant Sales,” TheWhat’sOnReport, July 19.)

Major Foodservice Expansion Tested by Alimentation Couche-Tard
Testing is now underway to bring the best foodservice products to Laval, Que.-based Alimentation Couche-Tard’s stores, CEO Alain Bouchard said in a conference call last week. The 5,883 convenience-store chain (2,383 in Canada, 3,500 in U.S) is also looking to hire a new foodservice manager. In its 2010 Annual Report, filed last week, the company reported, “Recently, we have been adding considerably more strategic weight to making fresh foodservice a bigger, more viable and profitable core service across our network.” The company is currently testing two different assembly and delivery methods for providing foodservice products in separate divisions. In regard to the Great Lakes Division, Bouchard said, “We have our own trucks and a commissary. We make our own pastries, muffins, sandwiches, fresh fruits, and we deliver these products to 125 stores.” The CEO also mentioned plans in the Arizona Division, saying, “We have our own distribution centre there. So we have hired multiple third-party producers to produce similar SKUs to those mentioned in the Great Lakes test. This division is also expanding rapidly into proprietary brand pizzas and home-meal-replacement items.” He added, “So we are [looking to improve] our core [foodservice] offer in all the divisions. It’s very promising.”

Tech-Savy Consumers — Best Restaurant Customers
“Consumers who are first to buy the latest technologies — from smartphones to social media apps — are also avid restaurant patrons,” according to the Chicago-based Technomic Inc. A survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers found that between eight and 15 per cent were “Innovators” and “Early Adopters,” and represented an important heavy restaurant user group. It reports that 83 per cent of Innovators and 72 per cent of Early Adopters order from a fast-food restaurant at least once a week, compared to 56 per cent for consumers on average. Other food stores also benefit, with 25 per cent of Innovators and 20 per cent of Early Adopters shopping at natural and specialty food stores at least once a week, compared to the average of 10 per cent. Technomic found that a restaurant’s presence on social networks such as a branded “fan” pages on Facebook nearly doubles the share in both adoption groups (48 per cent, compared to 25 per cent, on average). To read more about the survey, “Leveraging Social Media and Mobile Technologies Study,” click here.

Culinary Tourism World Summit to be Held in Halifax
The first Culinary Tourism Thought Leadership World Summit, presented by Taste of Nova Scotia and hosted by the International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA) of Portland, Ore., will be held at the World Trade Centre in Halifax from Sept. 20 to 21. With the theme, One World, One Table: Using Culinary Tourism for Economic Development, the event is expected to draw about 300 international culinary tourism industry professionals. Chaired by ICTA’s president and CEO Erik Wolf, keynote discussion leaders will include Food Inc.’s highly controversial movie producer Robert Kenner and Canadian celebrity chef Michael Smith. The two-day event will be preceded, on Sunday, Sept. 19, by four Mobile Workshops showcasing culinary tourism success stories. For more information, click here.

Seafood Fest Returns to B.C.
The third-annual Wild B.C. Seafood Fest will take place Saturday, Aug. 28 at the Steveston Harbour Authority Fisherman’s Park in the fishing community of Steveston, in Richmond, B.C. The free outdoor public celebration of wild B.C. salmon, sablefish and sardine will see presentations by special guest chefs, including Tojo (owner and executive chef of Tojo’s Restaurant, Vancouver), Neil Taylor (executive chef of Cibo Trattoria, Vancouver) and Stephen Wong (Vancouver journalist, consultant and cookbook author).

GFTC Seminar to Focus on Foodservice Innovation
A new one-day foodservice seminar, themed Leading Innovation: The Art and Science of Food, has been announced by the Guelph Food Technology Centre (GFTC) in partnership with Maple Leaf Foods, Inc. Scheduled for Oct. 19, the seminar will be held at Maple Leaf’s Mississauga, Ont.-based ThinkFOOD! Centre — a new state-of-the-art culinary innovation facility. The keynote address will be presented by chef Michael Smith who will discuss emerging global food trends. Other speakers and panallists will focus on: Sodium Reduction Strategies for Food; The Health-Conscious Consumer; Local, Sustainable and Organic Foods; The Labelling Conundrum; and Food-Safety Myth-Busters. For more information, contact Denise Horseman at (519) 821-1246 ext. 5068 or dhorseman@gftc.ca.

LEAF Environmental Certification to Launch in Calgary
A new third-party environmental-certification program for restaurants and foodservice facilities will be launched in Calgary on Sept. 29. The River Café is scheduled to be the first Leaders in Environmental Accountable Foodservice (LEAF)-certified restaurant, according to founder and principal, Janine Bolton. “The foodservice industry has a substantial impact on our environment and has become a primary focus of environmentalists and consumers alike,” Bolton points out on the new website. “Restaurants that invest strategically can cut utility costs by 10 to 30 per cent without sacrificing service, quality, style or comfort and make a significant contribution to a cleaner environment,” she says.

NRA Launches Green Restaurant Program in U.S.
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has introduced a national U.S. Greener Restaurants program to recognize achievement in environmental and sustainability improvement. Introduced as a pilot project at the NRA Show in May, the new program is an extension of the association’s existing Conserve Solutions for Sustainability guidelines initiative. A Greener Restaurant’s website has been established by a partnership between the Conserve imitative, the Turner Foundation, Kendall College, the Food Service Technology Center and the EPA Energy Star program. The new initiative is designed to help operators learn how to make their businesses more environmentally friendly by incorporating sustainability practices, while also saving money, managing costs and sharing their successes and concerns with peers.

Regina’s Radisson Plaza Welcomes New Chef
Milton Rebello is the new top toque at the Radisson Plaza Saskatchewan. With 19 years of culinary experience, the graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, has worked at four-star restaurants in New York and Connecticut. He is a Journeyman Red Seal Chef and has worked in leadership roles with Coast, Fairmont and Westin Hotels in Canada.

 

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