Restaurants, retailers and consumer brands are increasingly embracing the concept of the pop-up, temporary shops and eateries that offer an affordable way to introduce new products, try out innovative menu items and wow consumers with flashy new formats.

High-end chefs have been doing pop-up concepts in different formats for several years, often to try out new menu ideas, experiment with new cuisines or to gain a following before opening a new permanent space, and the strategy is also catching on with less-pricey concepts. This week, UK-based Pret A Manger announced plans for a month-long pop-up with a 100% vegetarian menu, including popular meat-free items from the chain’s existing menu as well as new dishes it will test out in the temporary space.

Pop-ups may become even more popular as retailers downsize their permanent brick-and-mortar presence in a digital age, a trend that’s freeing up more store space for experimental pop-ups. (read more…)

So you want to start recycling, but you don’t have a clue how to start.

Earlier, we suggested recycling your back-of-the-house cardboard as an easy first step. If you’re ready to take it further, consider the five steps outlined in a new Foodservice Packaging Recovery Toolkit from the Foodservice Packaging Institute and the National Restaurant Association.

Tune into our free April 21 webinar for more details on these steps:

It is easy to overlook what actually caused most of today’s market share-leading iconic brands to get where they are. While marketing and branding play an important role in the growth of any consumer facing business, it is very easy, in retrospect, to ascribe an unfair share of credit for a food product’s eventual success to its brand. After all, when you consider the youthful days of former niche players like Chobani, Kashi, Stacy’s, vitaminwater, few would argue they are stuff for case studies in excellent works of branding.

It’s no secret that young, especially premium brands, are increasingly making inroads on established, legacy food and beverage brands in the American market. As legacy brand market share continues to slump, we find that industry leaders are beginning to acknowledge a long-ignored truth: their companies’ portfolios are fully stocked with older, legacy brands that operate fundamentally differently in modern food culture than younger, entrepreneurial upstarts. (read more…)

Restaurant news topped the most-clicked list this week. A story about White Castle navigating New York’s higher minimum wage was most popular with readers, followed by news that Taco Bell is testing a TacoBot. The automated ordering bot allows consumers to order and pay for their food through the workplace messaging system Slack.

A story about chefs using the popular spiralizer tool to create noodle-like ribbons out of fruits and vegetables was also popular with readers, as was news that Kraft Heinz is expanding its Cracker Barrel brand into a premium macaroni and cheese product. Kroger‘s announcement that it will add jobs and stores and remodel existing locations as part of a $180 million investment in the Michigan market rounded out the top five.

Read these stories and others that made this week’s most-clicked in Food & Beverage on SmartBrief.com:

  1. What New York’s new wage means for White Castle
  2. Taco Bell tests an order-taking TacoBot
  3. Chefs give spiralizers a spin to create healthy noodles
  4. Kraft Heinz launches Cracker Barrel mac and cheese campaign
  5. Kroger announces $180M investment in Mich.
  6. (read more…)

What comes to mind when you imagine the eating habits of the average college student? Is it the stereotypically cash-strapped millennial stocking up on packets of ramen and macaroni and cheese, or is it the more modern foodie looking for new and exciting options at dining halls and at the hottest restaurants in town? The correct answer is both and everything in between – among other insights, Datassential’s newest Topical Keynote Report on Colleges & Universities found that while money is a concern for students, with expense being the top reason cited for not being on a meal plan (40%), most students would spend a gift of money on food over other items like clothes or electronics.

Our extensive report uncovers many more essential findings on the behaviors and wants of today’s college students, a population that is expected to reach nearly 23 million in 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. (read more…)