Fast-casual growth poses produce opportunity - The Packer

Fast-casual growth poses produce opportunity

01/17/2014 10:19:00 AM
Tim York

Not necessarily. Some of our colleagues have succeeded by making what’s old new again.

Mann Packing reports that demand exceeds supply for its Better Burger leaf, an iceberg and romaine hybrid developed in response to demand for leaves closer in shape to burgers.

Church Brothers’ Teen Greens and Misionero’s Lettuce Stackers likewise target specific needs for ready-to-use greens.

Bottom line: It can pay to take a fresh look at your production, core products and communications plan in light of fast-casual’s success.

How can your products capitalize on the growth of fast-casual restaurants? What about specific segments? What steps are you taking to make sure operators know how your products fit into their strategy and, more ambitiously, see you as a menu development resource?

Crystal ball readers say 2014 will mark the year when new “better pizza” outpaces “better burgers.”

Concepts offering customizable, made-to-order pies have been proliferating (for example, Blaze). Chipotle announced it’s working on a pizza concept.

QSR operators are responding to the growth in fast-casual. Taco Bell, Wendy’s and McDonald’s are upgrading their interiors and the nutritional profile of their menus. If those major chains remain your targets, understanding the competitive threat is equally important.

No matter how you slice it, the growth of fast-casual restaurants is not waning, and the produce industry is well positioned within the segment.

Tim York is CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Cooperative, which is made up of eight North American foodservice distributors. Centerplate is a monthly column offering a peek at “what’s now and next” for foodservice and the implications for the produce industry. York’s mission is to help the produce industry capitalize on opportunities and expand the role of produce on foodservice menus. Send Tim your suggestions at, or start a dialogue in the comments section on this column.

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