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…)

Nowadays, having a brand with a long history isn’t enough to keep consumer loyalty and capture their spending dollars. From Oscar Mayer rebranding its Lunchables line to KC Masterpiece updating its packaging design, many companies, no matter how long they’ve been around, are making changes to stay current and remain fresh in the minds of consumers, and communicating messages of authenticity through packaging is key, experts agree.

KC Masterpiece was a legendary barbecue sauce brand, invented by Kansas City, Mo., physician and barbecue aficionado Rich Davis in the mid-1970s. Davis built the brand organically as he used the five-ingredient sauce to win competition after competition, and for several years the story of Davis and his simple, winning recipe drove sauce sales.

About a decade after Davis created the sauce, he sold the brand to the Kingsford charcoal division of the Clorox Company, and after a time, the sauce began to lose its luster. (read more…)

Snacks used to be those after-school occasions when children savored milk and cookies, or an adult grabbed an apple to tide herself over until dinner. Now snacks are edging in on meal territory, representing half of all eating occasions.

The reasons for this shift are embedded in U.S. food culture. People’s time — and therefore their traditional meals — have become increasingly fragmented, leaving snacks to carry a greater proportion of the physical, emotional, social and cultural desires people have around food, according to The Hartman Group’s 2013 report, “Modern Eating: Cultural Roots, Daily Behaviors.” For example:

  • 73% of snacking is physically driven: That includes 44 percent hunger abatement, often between meals, plus 15 percent nutritional support to recover from physical exertion or meet specific nutrient needs and 12 percent pick-me-ups for a burst of energy to combat lethargy or mental fatigue.
  • 36% of snacking is emotionally driven: That includes 23 percent “time markers” to create structure in the day and provide moments of anticipation, plus 13 percent boredom alleviation and 6 percent reward, encouragement or temporary alleviation of discipline.
  • (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…)