Since the Obama administration entered the White House, first lady Michelle Obama has made it her personal mission to improve the health of America’s children by teaching them the importance of a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Her Let’s Move campaign and non-profit group Partnership for a Healthier America have been working towards this goal for five years, and have started to turn the tide on America’s childhood obesity problem and the way food and beverage companies market to the country’s youngest consumers.

“Over the past five years we have truly changed the culture around health and living in this country,” Obama said in a keynote speech last week at the Partnership for a Healthy America Summit. “Food companies are racing like never before to create healthier versions of their products. Even convenience stores are selling fruits and vegetables. Head to the local drive-thru and kids’ meals might include apples and skim milk. (read more…)

Today’s food business landscape is constantly evolving. Packaged goods manufacturers are taking inspiration from high-end culinary trends (and vice versa), and increasingly savvy consumers are demanding food that is healthy, sustainable and craveable. To help the next generation of food entrepreneurs respond to these new challenges, the Culinary Institute of America is expanding its focus with The Food Business School, a new center for executive and graduate education that will prepare students for the next era of food business.

The school’s Spring semester will begin in March, and registration for classes opened on Wednesday. Food industry entrepreneurs, designers, big name chefs and business professors from Stanford, UC Berkeley and UC Davis will make up the school’s faculty. Some CIA graduates will also teach classes at FBS, including Michael Chiarello, Neil Grimmer and Emilie Baltz.

SmartBrief interviewed Dean and Executive Director William Rosenzweig about what makes FBS stand out and the kind of businesses that might be launched there. (read more…)

Supermarkets have always had their share of bargain hunters, coupon clippers and shoppers in search of serious discounts, but digital technology is making it ever-easier for penny pinchers to leave the paper coupons and Sunday circulars behind while still finding the best deals. And, as the technology makes it easier for consumers to seek out the lowest prices, it also provides retailers with new opportunities to curry customer loyalty with price-matching programs that do the work and ensure that shoppers spend their savings in the stores.

U.S. food prices rose 3.4% from December 2013 to December 2014, according to the Consumer Price Index, and prices for food consumed at home jumped 3.7%. Prices are forecast to increase another 2% to 3% this year, and certain crops may see even bigger increases as a result of the ongoing drought in California. In Britain, food inflation has been falling and it’s on track to tumble further this year as oil prices fall and supermarket chains continue to slug it out for market share. (read more…)

Denver-based Mad Greens turned 10 late last year, with 12 restaurants and plans to open another dozen in 2015. The fast-casual salad chain will make its first forays outside Colorado this year, expanding into two as-yet unnamed states.

As the company doubles in size it will also double its employee base, which has grown to 250 since founders Marley Hodgson and Dan Long opened the first Mad Greens restaurant in December 2004.

We talked to Hodgson earlier this month, to hear about what’s changed in the past 10 years and look ahead to what’s next.

On what’s changed

I would say competition in fast casual, especially in our segment, has heated up immensely.

I think what’s interesting to me in terms of the cuisine we serve, it has become much more mainstream. When we started, it was a little bit more niche, people ate salad for lunch, maybe, but it was not top of mind for dinner. (read more…)

Whether you’re working in the food retail, restaurant or consumer packaged goods industry, customization and personalization are likely terms you’ve heard before. In fact, personalization has become a hot topic across many industries, and to achieve personalization, companies must first think about targeting different consumer segments.

For retailers, restaurants and manufacturers to really achieve consumer segmentation, it’s all about building data into “segments of one,” according to Jed Alpert, vice president of marketing for 1010data. To do this, companies need to collect as much data as possible, which is becoming easier thanks to today’s technology. Once that data is captured, it can be used to define customers as individual segments.

“Build an individual model, an individual forecast for every single one of your customers,” Alpert said. “All of that data can be used to build a complete profile of that person, and ultimately get down to that segment of one.”

Defining consumers in this way and delivering one-to-one marketing not only gives companies insights into how consumers are going to interact with their own businesses, but it can also help them understand how consumers interact with competitors and businesses outside their industry, according to Alpert. (read more…)