Looking back at data from the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI) over the past year, it has become obvious that Taco Bell and Chipotle are top runners on social. The “Live Mas” brand claimed No. 1 status on our RSMI Overall Top 250 for both Q1 and Q2 of 2013, while Chipotle stole the top spot in Q3 and Q4. However, Q1 2014 data shows that both brands have taken a tumble, putting them in the bottom-half of the Top 10.

Stealing the limelight, with a Social Score of 403.17 out of 500 total points, is Subway, which we saw climb a bit last quarter to No. 4. There have been quite a few brand shifts for Q1 2014 — check out the full Top 10 list below.

What is the RSMI & How Does it Work?

The RSMI, developed by digital agency DigitalCoCo, is the industry’s most comprehensive Index with domain expertise, tracking millions of U.S. (read more…)

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance released its Best Practices and Emerging Solutions Toolkit last week, as part of an effort led by the Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association and National Restaurant Association to help the food industry reduce food waste. The toolkit includes best practices and strategies for measuring and managing food waste by keeping it out of landfills, overcoming donation challenges and reducing the generation of food waste to begin with.

“We realized early on that we needed to communicate beyond this group to the broader membership of our respective trade associations if we were going to be able to get traction on this issue and make meaningful progress,” ConAgra Foods Vice President of Sustainable Development and toolkit co-author Gail Tavill said. “This is only the beginning, but it’s a way to lay the groundwork to enable the entire food industry to address this environmental, social and economic issue.”

The dozens of organizations participating in FWRA realized they were all dealing with challenges related to food waste using different techniques, so the alliance’s Best Practices and Emerging Solutions Committee decided to start collecting those case studies and practices, she said. (read more…)

It’s one thing to have a corporate food safety program but entirely another to make sure the executive suite is aware of its importance and the rest of the company buys into a food safety culture, experts said at the 2014 Food Safety Summit.

Food safety programs must be well-funded, integrated in all systems and departments, and receive support starting at the CEO level.

For food safety directors, it begins by having an elevator pitch ready at all times to grab the attention of higher-ups.

For Jorge Hernandez, senior VP for Food Safety & Quality Assurance at US Foods, the line is “I’m the one who is keeping you out of jail,” which he used when he met his new CEO for the first time. It got him a meeting with the chief exec a week later, during which he was able to explain everything the company was doing to ensure safety and protect the company from legal liability. (read more…)

Counterfeiting of branded goods is growing globally, and losses from counterfeiting cost retailers and manufacturers nearly $1 trillion each year and more than 75,000 jobs in the U.S., according to a study from the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association.

“This study pinpoints the opportunities that retailers and manufacturers have to reduce the chance for counterfeit products from reaching shelves and finding their way into consumers’ homes,” said Mark Baum, FMI‘s senior vice president of industry relations and chief collaboration officer. “We must be vigilant about safeguarding our supply chain from counterfeiters and step up our efforts to stop organized retail theft.”

The study, “Brand Protection and Supply Chain Integrity: Methods for Counterfeit Detection, Prevention and Deterrence,” includes guidelines for manufacturers and retailers based on a survey of consumer packaged goods manufacturers across the globe and retailers across the U.S., as well as input from a committee of industry leaders in manufacturing and retailing. (read more…)

When Coca-Cola distributed cans of its famous fizzy drink in South America last year bearing popular local names like Roberto and Alicia, it had its packaging supplier to thank. Beverage can maker Rexam had figured out a way to print eight different designs on the same production line and pack 24 variations on a single pallet — a far cry from the standardized approach of the past, and one that gave Coke valuable promotional buzz and boosted sales in its target markets.

Drawing on the ideas and inventiveness of external partners is one of the defining characteristics of innovation leaders, and increasingly a competitive imperative for companies across a broad range of industry sectors. The notion that internal R&D departments can respond to intensifying pressure for new brand variants and shorter timescales on their own is outmoded. “Open innovation” and collaboration are the order of the day, whether it be using social media channels to solicit feedback from customers or working closely with suppliers of packaging, ingredients, flavours or contract manufacturing services on product design and development. (read more…)