As the PMA’s Foodservice Conference set attendance records in Monterey California in late July it was apparent that the participants were actively engaged. Sellers were showing their latest innovations and buyers were eager to learn about them. This is in contrast with some other recently conducted events which have seemed lethargic by comparison.
The offerings at this year’s expo were moving more towards the center of the plate, which traditionally has been reserved for the proteins [beef, pork, chicken, fish]. As the main dish commodity prices reach record highs, fresh produce is a viable alternative for that space. Whether it was in the new product showcase or in the multitude of booths in the halls, filling your plate with produce is becoming mainstream.
The banter regarding quantifiably increasing produce consumption at foodservice started 6 or 7 years ago, but never gained serious traction. It was agreed that the idea was powerful, yet the customers were not ready to implement it through their purchases. It appears that economics will rule the process once again and drive behavior.
It is said that it takes 5 lbs of feed and 2500 gallons of water to make a single pound of beef. Looking at the shortages of water and the difficulties with land use, direct consumption of fruits and vegetables is the most efficient (and cost effective) method of food production and delivery. Lucky for us the wide variety of options and flavor profiles available to our diet outpace the grain options fed to animals.
By constantly innovating, we will be able to increase our share of the foodservice dollar. Spending will go to the highest value items – fiber over protein, salads over sandwiches. The old expression “Sell the sizzle, not the steak” takes on a whole new meaning for us – our offerings have the new ‘sizzle’ factor!