Drink and Dine

Whether it is a beer with burgers, wine with pasta, or a cocktail with nachos, American adults are drinking alcohol with their meals. An NPD Group study found Saturday to be the peak day for consuming alcoholic beverages at casual/fine dining restaurants, though Monday through Thursday are surprisingly close behind.

Some 37% of adults (age 21 and over) add alcohol to their casual/fine dining restaurant dinners during the Friday through Sunday span, while 34% consume it with meals between Monday and Thursday.

Adults order an alcoholic beverage during lunch 13% of the time, but consumption nearly triples (to 36%) during dinner. “Drinking” lunches include beer 55% of the time, yet the beverage is the choice for only 45% of dinners. NPD Group defines happy hour as 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., and this timeframe sees the highest consumption of beer (58%) and cocktails, whose 34% is on par with their dinnertime consumption amounts.

What effect does this have on spending at dinner? As might be expected, the check size increases. Without an alcoholic beverage, check size hovers around $12; the addition of alcohol nearly doubles the bill. Wine choice also showed some effect on check amounts: red wine tends to lead to a higher check; white wine correlates to a moderate bill; and blush wine tends toward a lower check size.

For more information on the NPD Group survey, contact Caryn Portnoy, Caryn_Portnoy@npd.com or 516-625-2443.

Big Brother? Nope, Big Mother

Parents concerned that their youngsters are making poor choices in the school cafeteria may have a solution to calm their fears, and it currently is operating in one of the country's major school systems. Houston has become the nation's largest school district to implement a cafeteria automation system that allows parents to track what their children purchase. What is more, the system also allows moms and dads to dictate what the child may not buy for lunch.

The automated system, developed by Cybersoft Technologies, allows parents to establish prepaid lunch accounts, thereby eliminating the need for children to carry money. Furthermore, it permits the parents to set diet restrictions on the child's account, information which will appear on the cashier's terminal when the child attempts to purchase lunch. If the item is forbidden, a warning sounds, “This student has a food restriction.”

The system also allows parents to go online to track the child's cafeteria purchase habits and change the diet restrictions, if they choose. Perhaps most importantly, the service also displays any of the child's food allergies to the cashier.

There is some concern that low-income families without computer access might not be able to participate in the program. Officials, however, note that these parents can visit the school and work with cafeteria representatives.

The Cybersoft system is currently in schools in Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee, and several other companies have similar monitoring programs at other schools.

Wondering if Food Science Has Changed?<

Has it been a few years since those food science classes? And, even at that time, was it a bit too much “science” and not enough “food” for your current duties? If you are involved in food or beverage formulations, ingredient specifications, product scale-up or other technically based tasks requiring practical, up-to-date information on applied food science, have we the event for you!

Prepared Foods' second annual R&D Applications Seminars, with over 70 presentations already scheduled, will be held September 11-12, 2006, at the Wyndham Northwest Chicago, in Itasca, Ill. For more information, see www.PreparedFoods.com/rd or contact Marge Whalen at 630-694-4347 or whalenm@bnpmedia.com.

Topics will range from “New Churn Technology in Frozen Desserts: Identifying Real Opportunities,” to be presented by Main Street Ingredients, to “Food Quality and Safety Challenges for Product Development,” to be presented by Silliker Laboratories. Information for those involved in formulation and/or quality control will be found in such presentations as Prayon Inc.'s “Troubleshooting Chemically Leavened Products” or Glanbia Nutritionals' “Use and Functionality of Dairy Proteins in Nutrition Bar Applications.”

A few seminars also will address some broader information needs of R&D folks, with topics such as “Culinary Flavor Trends” by FONA International Inc. and “The New Trend of Veganism: A Must-know on Marketing, Labeling and Ingredients” by The Animal Law Office.


For daily industry news updates, see the homepage of www.PreparedFoods.com and www.NutraSolutions.com.

* FONA International formed strategic business unit groups focused along the market segments of sweet (bakery, cereal/grain, dairy, desserts and nutraceutical), confection (chewing gum, chocolate, gummies, hard candy, tablet/panned and taffy), savory (dressings, marinades, meal and meal components, sauces, snacks and soup), and beverage (alcohol, still, carbonated, functional ready-to-drink, coffee and tea). TJ Widuch will lead the sweet and confection units, with Andy Dratt overseeing the savory and beverage groups. Widuch and Ramesh Shah also were named vice presidents at FONA, of sweet and confection, and technical services, respectively.

* Tzu Thé added Tom Dooley to help facilitate the company's expansion and distribution into the natural foods market.

* Robertet Flavors Inc. added Jared Hamill as associate food technologist, and promoted Leslie Evans to senior key accounts executive, Diana Furey to manager of flavor applications, and Edna Alston Scott to food technologist.

* The University of Nebraska-Lincoln named Rolando Flores head of its food science and technology department and director of the food processing center.

* Riviana Foods Inc. will offer its rice milling, storage and drying facilities in south Louisiana for sale.

* Hill and Valley hired Mark Robson as chief financial officer.

* Solbar Industries launched its new, interactive and user-friendly website (www.solbar.com), showing the soy products Solbar has to offer, as well as descriptions of various products and detailed technical and nutritional information.

* Cargill's first North American maltitol plant is now in full operation at the company's corn milling biorefinery campus in Blair, Neb.

* GTC Nutrition is expanding its North American sales team: Greg Godsil joins GTC Nutrition as a senior sales manager, and Andrea Carrothers and Laura E. Colin will serve as senior technical sales representatives.

* The Sugar Association filed a formal petition requesting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “undertake rulemaking to establish specific rules and regulations governing the definition of 'natural' before a 'natural' claim can be labeled on foods and beverages regulated by the FDA.”

* PacificHealth Labs announced the sale of its sports drinks assets to Mott's LLP, part of Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages. The transaction included an up-front payment of $4 million and defined royalty fees.

* MGP Ingredients Inc. appointed Robert Pyatt as financial analyst.

* Mastertaste Inc. named Chris Long to general manager of its sweet flavors team in Commerce, Calif.

* Kemin Industries Inc. entered into a strategic alliance with Camlin Limited from India, whereby Camlin will supply Kemin key synthetic antioxidant molecules. Kemin also announced the formation of its newest company, Kemin Food Ingredients Inc. (KFI), a global company providing shelf-life solutions to preserve the freshness and enhance the quality of human food.

* Cargill is poised to enter the global glycerin business as it prepares to open a glycerin refinery in Iowa Falls, Iowa.

* Main Street Ingredients opened a new research and development center, part of a new 40,000 square foot addition to its manufacturing facility. In addition, Main Street Ingredients has invested in a pilot-scale, state-of-the-art continuous ice cream freezer. Main Street also hired Joe Kretschmer as account manager in the food ingredient group.

* Carroll Manufacturing & Sales opened a new headquarters in Avon, Ohio, nearly triple the size of its previous headquarters.

* Briess Malt & Ingredients Company named Bob O'Connell vice president of sales and marketing. In addition, Brad Rush, who oversees the Briess certified organic ingredient program, was recently certified as an inspector by the Independent Organic Inspectors Association.

* Royal DSM N.V. and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM) signed and closed the sale of the DSM business unit Minera to SQM.

* Frutarom USA Inc. and Tyton Ingredients signed an agreement whereby Tyton will be distributing Frutarom's hydrocolloid gums within Canada.