Large restaurant brands today are drowning in data but thirsty for meaning. It’s easy for food and beverage directors to feel lost in the vast sea of positive and negative social media reviews about their menus.

To help clarify all this social feedback, newBrandAnalytics (nBA) just released a report highlighting the top beverage trends that are driving guest loyalty. This research shows how restaurants and hotels can use their online feedback, as well as their competitor’s social data, to ride the waves of the latest beverage trends to increase customer loyalty.

 nBA’s experts analyzed 40,000 social media reviews from 100 of the hottest U.S. restaurants, and isolated those mentions that included beverage references. As you’ll see below, we then separated meaningful from non-meaningful insights to identify specific trending beverage flavors that are driving guest loyalty.

So which wines, cocktails, beers and non-alcoholic beverages are sure to bring guests back for more? (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…)

Omnivorous consumers had several reasons to rethink their meat-buying habits during the past five or six years, as the recession hit grocery budgets, droughts drove meat prices higher and the federal government replaced the Pyramid with MyPlate, a model for nutrition that calls for veggies to make up at least half of the meal.

The past decade saw the rise of Meatless Mondays and other moves by some chefs to leave meat off the plate entirely at more meals. Meanwhile, food companies and researchers have been working hard to create better plant-based alternatives that taste more like meat, as The New York Times reported last week.

All that said, recent research shows that Americans are still eating plenty of meat, and there’s evidence that the recovery has led to an uptick in spending — home-cooked dinners that included meat or poultry rose from 3.6 per week to 3.8, and 36% of the consumers who changed their meat-buying habits last year spent more than the previous year, according to the ninth annual Power of Meat report from the Food Marketing Institute, the American Meat Institute and The Cryovac Brand. (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…)

If you attended the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) Summit in Washington in March, you would’ve found one thousand food and beverage executives and health crusaders in suits doing synchronized kick-boxing calisthenics. It was an awkward site to behold, but also a sign tensions are thawing between two groups who are often at odds.

The First Lady Michelle Obama has modeled in headlines and households what Americans must do to get healthier as part of her Let’s Move! initiative. But it is at PHA where the message becomes matter.

Under Obama’s stewardship, PHA has become the premiere forum for public health experts to stand alongside private sector corporations, including Del Monte, Dannon, and Nestlé. As a result, industry rhetoric is increasingly becoming action.

For product companies, PHA is becoming a launch pad. More of them are flocking here to announce commitments to consumer wellbeing, and they receive real-time feedback. (read more…)