The name is fitting, however. It has come to mean convenience and reliability in food and beverage products. “Prepared food” is associated particularly with processed foods that foodservice operators purchase and bring into their establishments rather than prepare from scratch onsite.
Indeed, the foodservice industry is a crucial client base for most Prepared Foods readers, those in R&D and marketing at food manufacturing companies. Technomic Inc. (Chicago) estimates $140 billion in 2003 sales of prepared foods to the foodservice segment.
The importance of the foodservice trade is supported again by this month's cover story, which is based on a study by the research department of our parent company, Business News Publishing (Troy, Mich.). Of the nearly 200 survey respondents, 68% sell to foodservice. These respondents also report that some 48% of their company's product development efforts are, on average, for foods and beverages targeting the foodservice channel.
Many reasons exist for the strong link between product development activity and the foodservice sector. For one, a strong “pull” from customers exists. That is, 62% of respondents say customer requests are very influential in the initiation of new foodservice product development. The percent rises to 96%, if including those who say customers are “somewhat” influential.
Survey results also provide statistics that appear puzzling, but may point to an area of opportunity. Food traits such as vegetarian, increased fiber or reduced-fat are seen as less important, despite current media attention surrounding the nutritional content of foodservice meals. Interest in nutrition also is evidenced by a significant increase in the number of attendees from large foodservice chains at this year's American Dietetics Association (Chicago) meeting, according to Chef J (J. Hugh McEvoy), one of Prepared Foods' contributing writers.
Chef J, however, feels this slow response by food manufacturers to nutrition in foodservice is typical. “Trends first occur in high-end restaurants, filter down to fast casual, then to large chains and eventually to food manufacturers who are reacting to those foodservice customers,” he says. Vegetarian foods, soups naturally low in fat and other healthful cuisine are appearing on the menus of high-end restaurants.
This is where a foodservice opportunity lies. While “low-fat” or “high-fiber” foods will not be menu priorities, great-tasting, innately nutritious foods will be.
Internet InformationFor more information on this issue's articles, see the Internet sites provided below.
A Look into the Pasta
www.mintel.com — Mintel International Group
www.ilovepasta.org — National Pasta Association
www.PreparedFoods.com/archives/2002/2002_6/0602secrets.htm"> — Pasta sauces worldwide from Prepared Foods
www.PreparedFoods.com — Type “foodservice” into the editorial search field on the homepage for a variety of articles
www.restaurant.org/index.cfm — National Restaurant Assn.'s home page
www.ifdaonline.org/gov/articles.html — Foodservice and government relations news
www.just-food.com/news.asp — Good source of foodservice/food industry news
Asian Ethnic…Now for Everyone
www.funfresh.net — Fun Fresh Concepts' Deli Dashers
www.kahiki.com — Kahiki Foods Inc. with consumer recipes using their products
http://yancancook.asianconnections.com — Chef Martin Yan's site
www.PreparedFoods.com/archives/1998/9809/9809asianflav.htm — Trends in Asian cuisine
www.worldhealth.net — Information on age prevention ingredients and supplements, includes a CNN article on Ronald Klatz
www.arclab.org — Aging Research Center with information on the Seventh International Symposium on Neurobiology and Neuroendocrinology of Aging
www.lauralewis.com/article_1100b.htm — Article on Jeanne Calment