Express eNewsletter.  A Weekly eNewsletter for Foodservice Professionals.
March 5, 2012
News in Review     Market Reports    Food Quiz     Industry Discussion         Subscription Information
Restaurant Beer Sales Shot Up 9 Percent in 2011
Celebrity chef serves up squirrel, beaver recipes
Quick Serves Pin Hopes On Pinterest
In Japan, You Can Order McDonald’s Using Your Car Navigation System
Wendy's Plans Airier, Sleeker, Modern Restaurant Look
Restaurant to Pay Workers in Wage-Theft Case
Family sues South Carolina restaurant for wrongful death
Chef stumbles upon decades-old treasure trove of recipes
Fake Denny’s Manager Arrested For Trying To Cook His Own Cheeseburger
Restaurant lobbyist's suicide note laments loss of $900,000, saying, 'I am a huge disappointment'
Applebee's, IHOP Held Back By Broader Economic Woes
Mississippi campaign connects farmers, restaurants
The Impact of Retail on Non-commercial Foodservice
Erik Estrada in Alaska to Help Promote a Proper School Lunch
Chef goes shopping for $1 million of culinary equipment

Featured Article

The Kids' Meal Compromise

By Roy Bergold

While some fight over what to do with kids’ meals, Roy suggests there are compromises to look into. Recently I was talking with Barry Klein, an old friend of mine who was one of the original advertising guys at McDonald’s. He is a marketing consultant now with a large interest in kids marketing. We were discussing the kids’ meal situation and the critics who claim these meals are responsible for our childhood obesity problems. Barry has a heated position that I would like to share with you, and then I’ll share my comments as well. Barry: Restaurant operators, which way will you go? Are you going to offer what children really want in kids’ meals, or will you cave to those who want you to shove different food at kids, much of which they leave on the table? Choices means a variety of options that let parents select what they will allow their child to have, and that means keeping the items that they want. Fries have been diminished or completely eliminated. Ingredients that make the food taste good have been taken away. Just enough salt and flavoring have been extracted to make food totally bland. Kids’ meals now abound with veggies, apples, and yogurt. But will the kids really eat it? This year, the Los Angeles school system changed its lunch menu to “healthier” offerings. Recently, the administration realized that sales of lunches had dropped to alarming levels, because students simply weren’t buying them. While watching a pair of high school kids share a bag of Cheetos and a soft drink, a reporter was told that they didn’t buy lunch at school because the food on the new menu was not only tasteless, but a waste of money. One said, “I’m eating more junk food now than ever before.” The outcome is another new menu coming to the schools. The same results are probably being recorded at restaurants, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the ones that took away the good stuff...

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Weekly Market Reports

View updated pricing and information each week on the website for the following food-commodity markets:

Dairy Commentary View Detail  
Plentiful milk supplies are resulting in increased manufacturing of cheese across the nation. Seasonal cheese plants in the Southeast are being utilized to assist in handling of milk supplies that would typically have ended up in the Midwest. Cash trading at the CME Group this week was active with buyers looking to purchase product and finding higher prices as a result. Weekly average prices for both barrels and blocks have traded below the $1.5000 mark for the last four weeks. The new Class III announced price of $16.06 for February is close to $1.00 lower from both last month and last year’s price. The Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) program assisted with export sales of 2.5 million pounds of cheese this week. Barrel prices at the CME Group closed Friday at $1.4800, and blocks closed the week also at $1.4800. The CME butter price fluctuated this week - starting 2.25 cents lower on Monday, moved 6.75 cents higher on Thursday, and then shed 1.5 cents on Friday to close the week at $1.4500. There were 18 sales recorded this week. The market looks to be showing some strength because only "new crop" butter - butter made after December 1, 2011 - can now be traded on the cash, CME market. Butter churning schedules remain heavy in all regions with cream supplies available and clearing to churns. There has been an uptick in cream utilization in higher-class products such as cream cheese, sour cream, dips, and similars, as orders are prepared for upcoming retail and foodservice needs for the Easter and Passover holidays. Across the nation,farm milk production is strong and milk processors in many areas are focusing on clearing milk intakes from traditional suppliers and turning away requests for processing outside milk. Bottler demand is steady at seasonal levels although predictions of late winter storms are expected to spike fluid sales late in the week. Cream supplies are still heavy due to strong farm milk production, but with increasing production of dips, heavy whipping cream, ice cream mix and hard ice cream, the pressure is easing on churns and fewer loads of cream are migrating to other regions to find processing room. 

Poultry Commentary View Detail  
Whole broiler/fryer prices are trending firm to higher in the East, firm in the Midwest, and steady in the West. Preliminary majority prices are unchanged in the West, 2 cents higher elsewhere. Offerings are light and moving well. Retail demand is light to moderate entering the weekend. Food service demand is light to good, mostly moderate to good. Floor stocks are balanced to tight. Market activity is moderate to mostly active. In the parts structure, movement is moderate to good for late week business. Prices are trending firm to higher for breast items, tenders and wings. Dark meat items are steady to firm with thigh meat in the best position. Offerings are light for breast items and tenders, light to moderate for dark meat items, and moderate for wings. Market activity is moderate to active. In production areas, live supplies are moderate at mixed, but mostly desirable weights. 

Pork Commentary View Detail  
With few other options for adding money to the cutout, packers decided to reduce offerings of bone-in loin cuts and bolstered boning lines. This, along with some renewed buyer interest, combined to boost bone-in prices throughout the week. Oppositely, supplies of butts increased and demand waned which caused prices to move lower every day. Offerings for bone-in ham was mostly light as packers ramped up their boning lines in an effort to reduce surplus inventories and push price levels higher for pre-Easter production. At the same time, boneless ham inventories became burdensome which pressured prices lower throughout the session. These two factors combined, caused lean trim inventories to amass which forced sellers to take less money as interest improved and price levels slid. Seedless bellies experienced no trades this week after last week’s sharp price decline, while market based trades prevailed. Additionally, offerings for boneless picnics increased substantially mostly due to the reduced demand from the export arena, which was good news for domestic buyers as price levels dipped lower. 

Beef Commentary View Detail  
Boxed beef cutout values were firm on light demand and offerings. The modest appreciation in the cutout was primarily from rib and loin cuts this session with both Choice and Select displaying solid gains in these areas. By contrast end meat prices stalled throughout the week as buyer resistance to high prices intensified. This was most apparent on Thursday’s close with a volume of cut items below a hundred loads. Forward sales were also slow with the one notable exception of Choice top butts trading heavily at prices comparable to the spot market. Beef trimmings remained generally steady on moderate demand and offerings. Fed cattle and blended coarse grinds were firm on light to moderate demand and offerings. Export business remains positive for sellers, as evidenced by record high prices registered this week for outside skirts, a popular item to both NAFTA and overseas destinations. Another notable milestone on Monday was the highest recorded LM_XB463 Comprehensive cutout value to date, posted at 194.46. 

Produce Commentary View Detail  
Potatoes: Idaho market increased for the third week in a row while most all other growing regions remained the same. The increase is due to heavier than expected demand as well as the prospects of the processing community's interest in open market product. Expect continuing pressure for the market to increase. Quality overall is good. Bananas: We are feeling the effects on supplies of bananas being tighter than usual due to adverse weather and pest issues that have been occurring in all the growing areas since late last year, which have continued into this year. Supplies are in a demand exceeds supply situation. The fruit is getting smaller and smaller and smaller. The bananas are harder to ripen and lots of corners. Supplies will be limited for the next few months if not longer. Strawberry: A cold front moved through the California strawberry growing areas which dropped little to no rain but instead brought in significant cooling for the next few days. This is the same pattern they have experienced the last few weeks. Strawberry harvests are slowing down as the fruit is not coloring up quick enough and most growers will have light to no harvest this week. With no warming expected until this weekend look for the strawberry market to be in a demand exceeds supply situation into the start of next week. Quality is being reported as good other than some white shoulder and sides showing up in the packs. Offshore Melons: The new crop from Guatemala started last Thursday with the overall majority of the fruit being 6Js, 9Js and 9ct. Supply continues to be limited on 15/18s. The market on large sizes has dropped over the last week due to a lack of retail promotions. We are anticipating heavy retail pulls to begin this weekend on large fruit which should stabilize that market. The new fruit is showing excellent color and good internal quality. Honeydews are coming! We will start to see an increase in supply with arrivals by the end of next week. This market is expected to continue to settle into the $14 range by this time next week. White Onions: Quality issues out of Mexico and a lack of supplies domestically has caused the white onion market to spike. Quotes out of Nevada and Utah mostly is $28.00 to $30.00 FOB on both Mediums and Jumbos! Look for the market to continue to be strong until the fresh market out of Mexico gets a handle on the quality situation. We may see the yellow market rebound somewhat as we are getting closer to transition from the Northwest to MXTX, 14 to 21 days and we should be in full swing. Cauliflower: Transition is getting close and production is soft increasing the market almost over night. Prices increased $3.00 to $4.00 out of Yuma this week and could continue into next week.

The National Diesel Average has been recorded at $4.05 this week,. NPC continues to monitor, track and control diesel fuel averages by state as well as reported truckload freight rates on a weekly basis.

Produce Commentary brought to you this week by NPC Inc. 

Discussion Forums

Delivery Business Model

Community member Borbeaux writes...

My girlfriend and I have been talking about changing our business model a little bit. Here are the two changes we are mulling over.

1. First things first. I'm working on an employee manual so everyone knows what their job is, what is expected and what happens if they don't meet the expectations. This is in an effort to eventually spend less time in the weeds with all the other employees. We would like to eventually have checks and balances in place so we could...

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The credit card option.

Community member Blue Chip writes...

How important is the option to use a credit card for restaurant owners/ food managers when purchasing from their foodservice provider? When I was a sales rep I did business with a chef who used his credit card to purchase his orders from me. He would use this method to take his family on vacation each year from the cash back discounts. Is the convenience of this way of purchasing a growing trend?...

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Catering Pricing

Community member Chef Donnelly writes...

Can someone out there give me a formula to price a per-person number for the bar at a catered event?

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Featured Blog

Online ordering key to increasing business

Full-service operators can build business and turn tables quicker by allowing time-crunched consumers to order meals online before arriving at the restaurant, research from the National Restaurant Association has found.

According to the 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 53 percent of adult diners said they likely would place their orders online in advance of their visits and schedule the time to arrive at the restaurant so their food would be served shortly after being seated.

The research also determined that younger consumers are more apt to embrace online ordering than their older counterparts. The report found that 68 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 years old would prefer to order ahead of time, compared with 64 percent of 35- to 44-year olds and 28 percent of adults aged 65 years and older. Frequent customers, particularly those who seek out convenience, also said they likely would use the online ordering option before arriving at the restaurant. Among that group, 65 percent who order takeout would prefer placing their orders online first, while 60 percent of quick-service and 57 percent of full-service customers said they likely would use the option, too.

"Convenience has been one of the most important growth drivers for our industry during the last two decades," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA's Research & Knowledge Group. "Consumers are always looking for away-from-home meal solutions, and ordering online is seen as a convenience option. But that doesn't mean all restaurants have to head in that direction. It's just one more solution for this diverse and consumer-driven industry to offer." (Source: National Restaurant Association).

For mobile ordering, devices such as iPads, iPhones, iTouch devices allow customers to place orders in real-time. Remote ordering features include customized ordering sites, 24-hour customer support and POS integration. (Source: Restaurant Web Ordering).

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Food Quiz

Used as a vegetable...I am actually a fruit

My family is believed to have originated in India and then spread to Asia some time between 3,000 to 10,000 years ago, depending on whom you ask. Currently I am grown just about anywhere there is warm weather. I am a member of the cucurbitaceae family, and it is believed that I am closely related to watermelons. The Sanskrit name for my family is soukasa. I have many siblings who are similar to me, but I am one of the old American heirloom varieties. My family members are the ones Leméry of England refers to when he says they "are hard on Digestion, because they continue long in the Stomach" and he only recommends that children who are of "an hot and bilious Constitution" eat them. I am more desirable than my long slender green siblings are because I am younger, sweeter, crisper, and more easily digested. My dimensions are 3 x 2 inches, I have a high sugar content, and I turn that color when overripe. I will become very chewy if left on the vine too long. But as a youngster I am sweet and crisp with pale brown flecks, and I have white juicy flesh. Considered to be and mostly used as a vegetable I am actually a fruit. Usually eaten raw, sometimes pickled, and rarely cooked, I make an excellent summer salad vegetable and a beautiful garnish. Although I am 96% water, I am a source of vitamin C, thiamin, and riboflavin

What am I?

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