Datassential, The Hale Group release early results from the operator purchasing impact report

When Sysco and US Foods announced plans to merge late last year, the news sent shockwaves through the industry — they are, after all, the top two foodservice distributors in the U.S., respectively. If approved, the merger will create a combined company with an estimated $65 billion in annual sales.

But what does the proposed merger mean for players throughout the industry? And how will it affect operator purchasing decisions — Sysco alone reports approximately 425,000 customers. In order to understand the far-reaching effects of the proposed merger, Datassential worked with leading industry consulting firm The Hale Group to create a series of three reports focusing on who operators buy from, what they buy, and why they buy in order to understand which operators will be impacted most and how they will alter their behavior.

According to early data from the first report in the series, which focuses on current purchasing behavior and operator expectations, operators are generally optimistic about the proposed merger. (read more…)

Summertime brings a new surge of food-truck activity each year, from events like Truckeroo in the Washington, D.C., market and Food Truck Fridays in Charlotte, N.C., to cross-country tours by chains like TGI Fridays, which launched a food truck stocked with free samples in the hope of reintroducing young consumers to the casual chain.

Lee Campbell has been making customized trucks and RVs for 25 years, and he added mobile kitchens into the mix about 10 years ago, when the demand began to grow. His company, Manassas, Va.- based S&L Customs Food Trucks & Trailers, outfits and retrofits trucks, transforming them into mobile kitchens.

In recent years, he has seen a rise in food trucks doing ethnic cuisines, seasonal seafood concepts and higher-end fare. Made-to-order gourmet meals can be tough to pull off in a food truck, he said, because customers expect the whole transaction to take three or four minutes, but chefs are striving to create new fast flavors. (read more…)

More than 50 companies already have put the Facts Up Front label icon on the front their products to show consumers key nutrition information on the front of the product, and this summer and fall the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute are making a big push to raise awareness.

“The goal is to drive consumers to the Facts Up Front website to get some nutrition education,” said GMA senior communications director Ginny Smith Clemenko.

The multimedia advertising and education campaign was launched this spring, and at, there is an interactive label with information on the four key pieces of information — calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugars. Companies can add two additional pieces of nutrition information, and the interactive label explains options such fiber, protein, vitamins C or D or potassium.

The response so far has been very encouraging, according to Mary Sophos, GMA executive vice president for policy and strategic planning. (read more…)


The Specialty Food Association works each year to strike a good balance of international and domestic companies at the Summer Fancy Food Show, and this year is no different. Of the lineup of 2,700 presenters spread across the 350,000-square-foot trade show, slightly more than half are U.S. companies and the rest come from 49 countries around the globe, said spokeswoman Louise Kramer.

Whether they come from the other side of town or the other side of the world, the companies all have similar goals at the show — to get noticed by distributors and retailers looking to sell their products. Welsh company Bravura Foods has a leg up — a new deal will put the company’s Peanut Hottie hot drink mixes in 2,300 U.S. Wal-Mart stores this fall. The deal with the world’s biggest retailer gives the company credibility when it comes to pitching other merchants, said Lisa Marie Gawthorne, co-creator of the product. (read more…)

People often speak of Alice Waters as a leading light in the trend toward fresh, less processed food. Utilizing her now-famous restaurant Chez Panisse as a springboard, Waters pioneered — and politicized — a new way of thinking about food that chose as its motif the romance of an imagined, premodern past. “So successful was her recipe for authentic food that the values she braided together into Chez Panisse’s winning formula — fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable, traditional and simple — now seem inseparable,” Emma Marris observes in Slate.

Buy localAt first glance, the spoils of Waters’ victory can be found in many thousands of food trucks and farmers markets, and the millions of consumers demanding that their canned beans be local, whatever that means.

But are consumers putting these ideas into practice in the way Waters intended? We love our farmers markets, but are we there to trace the relationship of our food to its source, or do we just like to wander in the sunshine buying groovy-colored honey? (read more…)