This post is sponsored by LINKFRESH. Consumers continue to ask where their food comes from and if it is sustainably produced. Companies have the opportunity to earn trust and win business by providing answers to these critical questions. In this Spotlight, we’ll share ways food providers can leverage technology to meet changing consumer demands.

Robert (Rob) Frost is group chief executive officer for LINKFRESH. Since joining the company in 1998 as finance director, he has worked closely with the Board of Directors in realizing a new vision for the business. In 2010, LINKFRESH began to expand internationally and now has offices in California. In addition to Europe, USA and Canada, LINKFRESH is also active in Australia and the Middle East. Robert’s early career was in the finance departments of large organizations, notably the University of Cambridge and BUPA private healthcare provider.

How can an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution help companies grow their business? (read more…)

Good food and a pleasant atmosphere are a big part of bringing customers in the door, but building relationships with those customers is important to securing repeat business. Tools like post-dining surveys, mobile applications and customer recovery programs are key for restaurants that want to get to know their customers and keep them coming back for more, a panel of experts said in a webinar presented Tuesday by NCR titled “Closing the Loop: Turning Customer Engagement into Repeat Business“.

Here are some key takeaways from the panel discussion:

Invest in tech

Technology is quickly becoming an inextricable part of the dining experience for many consumers, whether they are placing an order on a tabletop tablet or using Twitter or Facebook to leave feedback about their experience. Many customers — especially tech-savvy millennials — are starting to expect eateries to offer online ordering and mobile payment, and brands that fail to integrate tech solutions could lose business to competitors who are quicker to embrace tech. (read more…)

Tempting as it is to believe that women still handle most of the household food shopping, and that marketing and merchandising to them is the best way to attract shoppers’ dollars, the reality is more complicated.

Not only are more men shopping – almost half of primary shoppers are now male – but they also shop differently from women. Those differences are worth considering in everything from product selection to store layout.

Men browse less, although they enjoy browsing at club and dollar stores. They tend to shop with a “search and retrieve” method that contrasts with women’s typical “browse and buy” technique. Men go to whatever section they need, consider what’s there and head to the cash register.

As a result, some drug stores have set up special aisles devoted to male grooming products. “The man aisle” includes everything from razors to body sprays to lotions made for men. Sometimes there’s even a flat-screen HDTV. (read more…)

Somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 people flooded the streets of Manhattan on Sunday for the People’s Climate March, the biggest and most diverse group ever to come together to push for action on climate change and, not surprisingly, many of the marchers were focused on issues surrounding sustainable food.

The event brought out activists with a wide variety of core causes, from anti-fracking and renewable energy interests to labor unions to animal welfare groups to student organizations to religious groups, all of them raising their signs and their voices for a common goal. Vegan groups and organic proponents were among the throngs, making the connections between climate and sustainable food.

It’s a message that consumer packaged food brands including Mars, General Mills and Nestle are increasingly taking to heart. The consumers staples industry sector has doubled its investments in activities aimed at reducing carbon emissions since 2012, according to a 2013 climate change report from the Carbon Disclosure Project. (read more…)

As consumers become more aware of where their food is coming from, restaurants and retailers alike are getting into the sustainability game. From a business standpoint, incorporating things like sustainable design makes sense because it helps the bottom line. But having a strong message of sustainability associated with a business is also advantageous in the food and beverage industry from a branding perspective.

For EL REY, a Mexican beer garden in Washington, D.C., sustainable design is what the business is all about. In addition to beer, margaritas, tacos, tamales and other items one would expect to find at a Mexican beer garden, diners are also treated to a unique atmosphere created by the restaurant’s structure. EL REY is D.C.’s first fully-enclosed structure that is made out of shipping containers. The building is made out of five total, along with a retractable roof over its patio area.

According to Roger Brown, EL REY’s general manager, the unique facade is often what draws customers to the restaurant. (read more…)