The state of women’s leadership is always changing, including in the food retail and consumer packaged goods industry, and while there has been a lot of advancement made in this category, there is still work to be done. Joan Toth is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, the largest learning and leadership community serving the retail and consumer goods and services sector that represents nearly 9,000 members, 750 companies, 100 corporate partners and 20 regions in the United States and Canada. SmartBrief talked with Toth about what women’s leadership looks like in the retail and consumer goods industry today, where it is heading and how NEW is playing a role.

Can you start off by talking a little bit about the state of women’s leadership in the retail and consumer goods industry?

There’s a widespread perception that women are advancing, but the numbers tell a different story. (read more…)

To hear Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President, Research & Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association, speak is to be optimistic about the future of the restaurant industry. I recently had the pleasure of hearing Riehle speak at the Restaurant Innovation Summit in Atlanta. He showed the attendees charts that presented American eating habits and the greater and greater shift toward “food away from home” rather than “food at home” — in other words, getting food from restaurants rather than getting food at grocery stores.

In fact, for the first time, the restaurant industry and grocery industry in the U.S. are nearly neck and neck, each with about $700B in annual sales (each approximately 14% of the $5T retail industry). In years past, the grocery industry far outpaced the restaurant industry. But restaurants have been making strong progress and have pulled even. If one extends the trendline into the future, it is clear that restaurants will become the majority recipient of what Riehle refers to as “the food dollar.”

This shouldn’t be terribly surprising to us. (read more…)

The start of a new year is a popular time to reflect on the trends that will affect the coming seasons. One trend hitting the restaurant industry is pizza concept franchisees expanding into the sub sandwich segment. This is a recipe for success as sub and pizza makers discover operating efficiencies, which bring the two businesses together as perfectly as lettuce and tomato.

For pizza concept operators, entering the sub sandwich business is generally a diversification strategy. However, in rarer cases, individuals have sold their existing pizza business to become a sub sandwich operator. In either case, these operators cite one important consideration in their decision to enter the segment: As larger, more mature systems, the pizza chains provide less organic growth opportunity for existing franchisees, particularly in home markets.

The impact of this trend on the Jersey Mike’s system, where the vast majority of our nearly 900 restaurants are owned/operated by franchisees, has been profound. (read more…)

Retailers are operating in a very exciting world today. From social media to mobile devices, there are more ways to reach consumers than ever before. But retailers still have a ways to go to create a seamless shopping experience that spans across channels, according to a panel of experts who spoke at NRF’s BIG Show in New York City.

One of the major challenges for retailers when it comes to the path to purchase is that all these exciting new technologies exist across different silos, which can make it complicated for retailers to reach consumers in the most efficient way, according to Martyn Osborne, product chief at PCMS. He pointed out that while retailers look at technology in different buckets like mobile and online, consumers don’t think of technology in quite the same way, and that can create a disconnect between retailers and their shoppers who are looking for that seamless experience. (read more…)

At the end of each year, the team at Datassential releases our list of the trends to watch in the upcoming year, leveraging our extensive data from services like Datassential’s MenuTrends, the industry’s most accurate and trusted menu database, and combining it with our expert insight and passion for food trends. Last year we covered everything from European cuisines like German and English to beverage trends, including craft sodas and mocktails. In the past we have tracked mini desserts (2014), sweet potato (2007), and adult grilled cheese (2011). And now we are proud to release our trends to watch in 2015 — and this year it helps to think big.

Big changes

In the year ahead, major changes will continue to disrupt the entire food industry. Segment melding continues to blur the lines between traditional industry concepts, from fast casual, which combined the speed of fast food with options often found at casual or midscale concepts, to chef casual, where fine dining techniques and authentic flavors are showcased in more affordable and approachable ways. (read more…)