For restaurants looking to implement a sustainability plan, one of the best places to start is by reducing food waste. As much as 40% percent of the food that is grown, processed and transported in the U.S. will never be consumed, according to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There are a number of ways restaurants can cut their food waste, from donation programs to composting.

SmartBrief interviewed Laura Abshire, the director of sustainability policy and government affairs at the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C., about different methods of reducing food waste and how restaurants can benefit from food waste reduction. Abshire leads the Association’s work on energy and environmental policy and related advocacy efforts, works extensively with its Conserve initiative and also is the NRA’s liaison for the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a joint effort with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute, to help reduce, reuse and recycle food waste in the retail and foodservice industries. (read more…)

From red velvet to pumpkin, croissant hybrids to savory sweets, desserts have showcased a huge number of changing trends over the past few years. But what are consumers actually eating? And what do they want to eat? For Datassential‘s upcoming MenuTrends Keynote report, which combines survey data directly from consumers with menuing and trend data from our MenuTrends database, we are taking a look at the current state of the dessert market, from cakes to pies to cookies. Here’s a sneak peak at some early results from this extensive report.

Chocolate reigns supreme

Consumers’ love of chocolate almost can’t be overstated. Chocolate cake — any variety — was not only the most eaten cake variety by the percentage of consumers who chose it within the last two weeks (26%), but it was also the most loved cake variety — in fact, over half of consumers said they love chocolate cake. (read more…)

Food fraud is a problem that has sounded global alarm bells in recent years, from tainted meat in China to last year’s horse meat scandal in the U.K. to the revelation that at least 10% of the cheese labeled “Swiss” sold in supermarkets is actually counterfeit. What until a few years ago was a relatively unexplored area of study will be one of the top five critical global issues the European Commission will tackle in 2015.

Defined simply as “intentional deception using food for economic gain,” food fraud has become easier to detect through sophisticated DNA and other tests designed to detect ingredients down to the molecule, but criminology may play just as important a role as science in preventing food fraud.

“The big area we’re focusing on now is not so much on the latest methods to detect fraud, we’re focusing on understanding the fraudster, why he would commit the crime and why he perceives a fraud opportunity,” said John Spink, director of Michigan State University’s Food Fraud Initiative. (read more…)

Private labels are so much more than they used to be for food retailers, and it looks like they’re here to stay, according to a report from Planet Retail and Trace One. From Trader Joe’s and ALDI, which have built their businesses with a focus on private labels, and Kroger, whose Simple Truth and other private labels have grown to make up 25% of grocery sales for the retailer, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, private labels are giving national brands a run for their money. And according to the Planet Retail report, grocers should take note.

After detailing some key trends that are prevalent among private label retailing in the U.S., like drugstores pushing food sales and the emphasis on value in the private label market, it identifies some key takeaways for retailers that have also appeared in SmartBrief’s coverage of the food retail industry. (read more…)

The son of a grocery store owner, Randall Onstead, CEO of Bi-Lo Holdings, was raised in the business. Almost 50 years ago, in 1966, his father started a grocery chain in Texas of his namesake — Randalls, where he worked when he was 10 years old. From there, it was a series of upward progressions. He went on to grow his career at Randalls Food Markets Inc., parent company of both Randalls and Tom Thumb supermarket chains in Texas, eventually rising to lead the company as chairman, president and CEO. Between 1997 and 1999, Onstead increased the business value from $645 million to $1.85 billion.

In 1999, Randalls Food Markets, Inc., was sold to Safeway, and he moved on to serve as president and CEO of Texas-based crafts and decor retailer Garden Ridge Corp., and then as president of Dominick’s Finer Foods, a division of Safeway, Onstead tells us. (read more…)