Alternative Foods Hit the Mainstream, Providing Better-for-You Options

Alternative Foods Hit the Mainstream, Providing Better-for-You Options

Consumers today are making a notable shift towards eating cleaner. It’s led to the success of a number of small, artisanal companies with lofty values, and now, a wave of large brand names are also getting into the game, often by acquiring these smaller, innovative companies.

Carmel Hagan, Founder of Supernatural New York City explains how once trendy lifestyle changes like organic, plant-based, and vegan are now being adopted by larger shares of the market.

“The idea that we need to be taking care of ourselves through food is becoming more and more mainstream and that’s something that I think, at a baseline, is probably the number one thing that most people can do in their lives to have autonomy over their health,” she says.

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Is the Juicing Trend Here to Stay? How Concepts are Profiting from Raw Juice Programs

Is the Juicing Trend Here to Stay? How Concepts are Profiting from Raw Juice Programs

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

The healthy eating movement has influenced an array of trends and fads in the last five years. Some of these include the paleo diet, GMO-free foods, gluten-free foods, organic foods and most recently cold-pressed juice.

Although the concept of “raw juice” is newer, juicing has been around since the 1970s. But starting in 2009, cold-pressed, raw juices became wildly popular and food bloggers soon were posting artistic photos of these beverages, while boosting how they were full of nutrients.

Not to be confused with the grocery staples like orange juice or cranberry juice, these types of fruit juices are often just as unhealthy as a sugary drink. So cold-pressed juices have emerged as the healthy, yet easy way to get your daily dose of veggies and fruits.

Celebrities like Beyoncé and Jennifer Aniston soon started to indorse juice-only diets.

Today the cold-pressed juice sector is worth $100 million, according to the market research firm IBISWorld.

But, cold-pressed, raw juices are different than those made at home with your juicer. After the ingredients are mixed, it’s bottled, sealed and thrown into a large chamber where a tremendous amount of water applies pressure. This makes the shelf life of the juice longer.

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McDonald’s Hops on Juicing Bandwagon with Berry-tastic Menu Items for Strawberry Month

In honor of national Strawberry month, McDonald’s is appealing to berry lovin’ consumers by releasing a new selection of smoothies, lemonades and yogurt parfaits.

New strawberry themed menu items at McDonald's |  McDonald's

New strawberry themed menu items at McDonald's | McDonald's

Strawberries have been a consumer favorite forever. The California Strawberry commission refers to the berry as “America’s favorite fruit.” With that in mind, along with it being the spring season with summer just around the corner, the quick-serve mogul is promoting new menu items featuring the beloved berry.

These berry-tastic items include- the McCafe’ Strawberry Lemonade, McCafe’ Strawberry Banana Smoothie, McCafe’ Strawberry Mango Smoothie, McCafe’ Frozen Strawberry Lemonade and Fruit’N Yogurt Parfaits.

However, the Strawberry Banana Smoothie and Fruit’N Yogurt Parfait will be the only items available nationwide. The rest will be available only at the brand’s California and/or Chicago stores. Most of the beverages will be available until August, except for the Strawberry Orange Mango Smoothie which will be in the northern California stores until October.

Fresh from the Farm?

Influenced by the farm-to-table movement, McDonald’s is emphasizing the freshness of the hand-picked strawberries from California. “Independent, third party companies inspect every load of strawberries for quality, color, firmness, and character to ensure a great experience when you visit McDonald's,” as stated in the recent press release announcing the brand’s new strawberry focused items.

The strawberries for the smoothies will not be shipped directly though, most of the berries will be made into a strawberry puree’ before being shipped to the stores.

"The beauty of freezing strawberries for McDonald's is that we are able to pick the berries at the absolute peak of ripeness -- locking in all the flavor, color and nutrition by washing, sorting, freezing and packing the berries within 12 hours of them being hand-picked from plants in our growers fields," said Ed Haft, CEO of Sunrise Growers, one of the strawberry suppliers for McDonald's in a recent press release.

Although these items are new, the brand is already one of the largest purchasers of strawberries in the Golden State. California produces over 88% of the nation’s strawberries.

The smoothies are a healthier, though certainly not a healthy option. The existing menu item, the Strawberry McCafe Shake has a whopping 550 calories in a small. While a small Strawberry Banana Smoothie has more than half that with 210 calories. But again, these smoothies are made with fruit juices with added sugars, so these are not the most nutritious of the beverages.

Can the Brand Compete in the Crowded Juice Segment?

Will these beverages be able to compete with the beloved summertime beverages like Starbucks’ Refreshers, which only have 90 calories?

Also are smoothies so 2015? Consumers have been recently gravitating more so to cold pressed juices. But, the smoothie trend is still going strong. It’s important to note, that consumers’ smoothie tastes have evolved. They are more interested in smoothies that are stocked full of superfood ingredients as meal replacements.

McDonalds’ may be incorporating a fan favorite fruit, but is it enough to entice consumers? Especially since more foodies are seeking out smoothies as the on-the-go meal alternative?

Part One: Tapping into Healthy, Functional Beverage Trends to Build Foodservice Drink Business

Part One: Tapping into Healthy, Functional Beverage Trends to Build Foodservice Drink Business

By Rick Zambrano, Foodable Industry Expert

Beverages are great vehicles for food businesses to build incremental business. From fresh juices, HPP juices and smoothies, to bottled functional drinks– beverages are a smart investment by foodservice businesses. Knowing what to sell and how it fits in with a brand is a top priority for restaurateurs in all segments.

Restaurateurs are tapping the latest beverage trends to grow their business, but it’s a delicate balance. A way to easily use the latest and most-pervasive trends is to categorize them through functionality. In this manner, restaurateurs are keeping both the trend and the consumer’s needs top-of-mind.

So what are these trends and what is driving them? Well, there’s a growing cadre of consumers who are looking for healthier food and drinks, and they have been defining it in their own ways. Many restaurant operators who were looking for evidence of this in their sales of lower-calorie meals & drinks were surprised to see consumers flock to “better-for-you” ingredients, instead, and wellness foods. Equipped with a lot of readily-available research and articles, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers are attracted to ingredients that will contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

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