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…)

The Food and Drug Administration has finally released the menu labeling rules and regulations that restaurants with 20 or more locations will be required to follow starting at the end of 2015. While the long-awaited rulebook lays out what information restaurants and other foodservice locations will need to display, it also raises many questions about how operators will obtain correct nutrition information for all their offerings and how they will include these numbers on menus. SmartBrief interviewed Anita Jones-Mueller, president and CEO of Healthy Dining, about what operators need to know about the new rules.

Last week, the FDA released the final rules for the menu labeling legislation. What should restaurants know about the final rules?

Yes, the FDA released the very lengthy Federal Register, dated December 1, 2014, which outlines the menu labeling rules and regulations requiring restaurants with 20 or more U.S. locations to post calories on menus and menu boards and provide nutrition information for 11 nutrients for all standard menu items, as well as print a calorie statement on menus. (read more…)

What are consumers consuming? Pizza — and a lot of it. Every week, two out of three Americans eat pizza. In fact, the average consumer purchases pizza away-from-home (at a restaurant, fast food outlet, cafeteria, etc.) five times a month — more than once a week.

For Datassential‘s newest MenuTrends Keynote report, we decided to dive deep into this consumer favorite. What types of pizza are they eating, where are they eating it, and what are the barriers that keep them from choosing pizza? We also took a comprehensive look at growing pizza trends, from toppings to crusts to rapidly-growing flatbreads.

Americans love meat

Consumers can’t get enough pepperoni pizza. Pepperoni pizza was the highest rated of the varieties we tested, loved by 47% of consumers. And they are voting with their wallets — among consumers who had eaten a pizza within the past two weeks, 40% chose a pepperoni pizza, with sausage a distant second, chosen by 16% of consumers. (read more…)

As consumer expectations continue to evolve, brick and mortar retailers are elevating experience. Clearly. They are not only fighting for your attention and your dollars. They’re also fighting for your stomach.

Retailers understand that they have to offer more than just goods and services in order to thrive. Consumers are perfectly comfortable skipping trips to the store, and ordering online has become common behavior. To combat this, some retailers are adding entertainment value as a means to draw consumers in. Increasingly, however, retailers are adding some form of strategic foodservice in order to attract and retain customers and keep them satisfied. What’s that old saying about a way to a man’s heart?

There are three reasons to add foodservice to a store:

1. To increase foot traffic

Seems obvious, but foodservice can give customers a reason to walk in, and a reason to stay longer. Barnes & Noble Cafes featuring Starbucks beverages are a great example. (read more…)