Those of us who shop seasonal farmer’s markets have learned that the bumpy apples, misshapen eggplants and two-pronged carrots fresh from the fields can taste better than their perfect peers on the grocery store shelves, but the vast majority of us still judge our food on looks alone, bypassing ugly produce in our quest for the best-looking fruits and vegetables.

That quest contributes significantly to the problem of food waste. Retailers, restaurants and households toss out somewhere between 20% and 40% of the world’s produce, according to a United Nations report. That translates to around 8% or 10% at U.S. grocery stores, said Supermarket Guru’s Phil Lempert.

Some of the waste happens because produce is perishable and can be made more so by inadequate chilling during travel or too much handling in the store, he said. But we can make a big dent in the amount of wasted fruits and vegetables if we learn not to care so much about looks. (read more…)

E-commerce is rapidly emerging in the food and beverage industry, whether you’re talking about restaurants adopting mobile payments or online grocery delivery services that will bring food right to your doorstep, but wholesale club retailing is one category that has not been so quick to adopt e-commerce and digital technology. While retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club are well-established in the retail industry, shoppers don’t often associate them with online shopping. But is that changing?

It very well should, according Tim Reay, head of grocery at e-commerce digital agency Salmon.

“[Omnichannel retailing] is currently an area which we believe is underexploited by the wholesale industry and we believe that it’s ripe for expansion,” he said. “Those who don’t adapt to this growing trend in the industry risk losing out to digital-savvy competitors and an ever-growing army of suppliers who are looking to supply goods direct to consumer through e-commerce.”

One reason wholesale retailers are well-positioned to adopt e-commerce and omnichannel retailing, Reay said, is because their customers are already online. (read more…)

Today’s consumers, especially those in the millennial generation, are not easy to win over. Social media has created an environment where consumers feel comfortable voicing their honest opinions. This is often why social media is seen as a double -edged sword. But social media is here to stay and it gives a brand the opportunity to engage with their customers even when they are not at the restaurant.

Understanding and managing the data collected from these social outlets is still somewhat an uncharted territory for restaurant brands. Through the extensive Restaurant Social Media Index, Foodable has dissected and analyzed the overall Top 100 Most Loved Restaurant Brands. The analysis has mined social metrics for roughly 10,800 restaurant entitles and 121 million social restaurant consumers. Read more about how the index works.

The report covers so much more than just the overall most loved brands — including age demographics and frequency in dining occasions for top social consumers, what brands have the highest consumer sentiment in terms of service and food, the top complaints and the most appealing factors of a restaurant to consumers. (read more…)

One of the most notable shifts in food culture in recent years has been an increasing interest in play, adventure and exploration. People strive to make their meals and snacks into experiences, not just fueling times and a major boost in their quest to discover new flavors and cuisines is the technology on their laptops and in their smartphones.

People now get inspiration from websites and social media for everything from wedding feasts to what’s for dinner on Thursday night. It’s probably not surprising that 70% of consumers use digital food resources at least weekly.

They see a friend’s Facebook post on a favorite restaurant, look up its ratings on Yelp and make a reservation at OpenTable.com. People are inspired to create meals at home by pictures on Pinterest, suggestions on Twitter and recipes at Allrecipes.com.

There’s also the digital buying of food — and its sophistication is both astonishing and seemingly unstoppable, with some people already imagining how Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos’ vision of using drones for deliveries might affect the pizza business. (read more…)

Coffee prices fluctuate with supply, but a severe drought in Brazil and a fungus called coffee rust in Central America have taken a toll on crop yields, sending coffee bean costs soaring this year with the expectation that they’ll go even higher in 2015.

A report earlier this year from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia predicts that climate change will bring more of the same in the future. Arabica bean prices rose at least 72% this year, and they’re likely to continue climbing in 2015, according to Citi Research.

Total global supply is on track to rise 1.5% this year compared to 2013, but it’s the second year of a supply deficit, according to a report by Rabobank earlier this month. And the hit comes as coffee consumption around the globe continues to rise, driven in large part by Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts expansions into new markets, and the expansion of quickservice coffee programs like McDonald’s McCafe line. (read more…)