How US Foods Helps Restaurant Customers Stay Modern With Trendy Food

brought to you by WBR Insights

Food trends can be as fleeting and short-lived as those of the fashion industry, piling enormous pressure on restaurants and other food outlets to stay current if they want to continue to attract diners through the door. To enable its 250,000 food operator and restaurant partners keep pace with the ever-changing tastes of the market, leading foodservice distributor US Foods launches a "Scoop" lineup each season, with a focus on helping its business customers deliver the right trends at the right time.

In August 2018, US Foods launched its fall iteration of the Scoop initiative - Fall Scoop - introducing 27 innovative, versatile and fashion-forward food products to its catalog. Inspired by the intersection between food and fashion, the Fall Scoop line - marketed under the banner of "Food Runway" - creates a relationship between food and current trends, ensuring restaurants stay ahead of the game and cater to consumers' latest interests.

"Culinary trends are moving faster than ever, driven by social media, online reviews, and diner feedback," said Stacie Sopinka, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Innovation at US Foods. "When independent restaurant operators aren't moving forward with the right trends at the right time, it's easy to fall behind. At US Foods, we make it easy for our operators to stay on-trend and take the right steps forward with confidence. In Fall Scoop, we're bringing the industry's most influential trends to restaurants across the country by introducing an assortment of versatile products that blend function, innovation, and fashion-forward form."

Helping Customers Succeed

US Foods' Scoop strategy is designed around one guiding principle: How can the distributor help its business customers - independents and restaurant operators - succeed? With fall being arguably the most fashion-focused season, US Foods felt it was apt for Fall Scoop to focus on trends and try and pinpoint precisely which consumer-driven food movements restaurants should be catering for.

"US Foods is committed to helping chefs and operators 'Make It,' and Scoop is a key component of our 'Great Food. Made Easy.' strategy," said Senior Director of Product Development at US Foods, Stacey Kinkaid. "It's really important for operators to stay current with the latest and greatest food trends if they want to keep customers coming in. The culinary world is constantly evolving, and we are always looking for new ways to help our customers succeed. In Fall Scoop, it's about making sure chefs have access to the hottest trends to offer on their menus."

With this in mind, US Foods identified five key trends it saw were really driving innovation on menus: Authentic Global Flavors, Vibrant Colors, A Celebration of Vegetables, New World Butchery, and Fine-Dining 2.0.

Kinkaid explained that US Foods leveraged both in-house expertise and research data from organizations such as Datassential and the National Restaurant Association to arrive at these five key trends and which products it could produce to support its restaurant customers in exploiting them. "It's called the adoption phase," Kinkaid said. "That's when you start to see trends in fine-dining at more adventurous fast-casual chains. That's when we know, 'OK, this is a trend that's about to proliferate and we want to jump on board and help our customers by making that trend accessible to them on a national basis.'"

For example, research from Datassential found that 54% of consumers want to try a novel global food, and the National Restaurant Association named authentic ethnic cuisine as a top food trend for 2018. As such, Fall Scoop features new products with global flavors - such as Monarch Creamy Miso-Ginger Dressing and Chef's Line All Natural Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder in Achiote Sauce - that operators can bring to life in new ways.

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Other data revealed more than one-half of consumers saying they eat more fruits and vegetables than they did a year ago, and one-in-five Americans saying they consume less dairy for health reasons. Helping its restaurant customers react to such trends, Fall Scoop features a variety of new products - including Molly's Kitchen Cornmeal-Breaded Green Tomato and Thirster Sweetened Almondmilk Beverage - that fit vegetable-centric and dairy-free diets.

Final Thoughts

What's abundantly clear in US Foods' ongoing business strategy is that it's not only listening to its own customers but to its customers' customers, as well. US Foods knows that the key to its own success lies in the successes of the restaurants and food operators it supplies. By enabling these operators to easily stay on-trend with the latest food fashions, US Foods provides added value to its customers, helping them keep their businesses moving forward, while simultaneously driving loyalty among its own customer base.

"We take all the hard work and guessing games out of introducing trends to restaurant menus," said Kinkaid. "The products we develop for Scoop are backed by extensive research to ensure we're introducing the right trends at the right time. [...] All of the research we do and the customers that we talk to tell us that it's important. We're always trying to make our customers' lives easier through all of the products that we develop, regardless of whether we're focused on the latest trends, or void they might have that we're trying to fill."

You can hear Diane Hund, Senior Vice President at US Foods, speak at B2B Online 2019, taking place in April and May at the Chicago Marriott Downtown.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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