Tag Archives: Food

Food Trucks and the Pandemic

There is no doubt that the pandemic severely impacted restaurants and the food industry. Many restaurants shuttered their doors and thousands of employees were out of work. While some restaurants were able to pivot to providing take-out food rather than in-store dining, food trucks seemed designed to handle the pandemic.

Food trucks are rolling restaurants that can go where the demand is at and meet consumers where they live, work, and shop. They can follow the customers and move to a new location when demand at one location falls off. Food trucks are flexible, can be innovative with menus, and quickly became a sought after option for diners who missed restaurant food!

According to IBISWorld, there are 26,228 food truck businesses in the U.S. as of 2021. There has been a 6.8% growth in the number of trucks and 7.5% increase in business growth from 2016 to 2021. While food trucks are labor intensive, they are also flexible in operations and products, as well as cheaper to start than a fixed restaurant location. The food truck market size is now more than $1.2 billion in revenue annually.

However, even food trucks need promotion. Many trucks launched social media advertising campaigns, as well as added credit/debit card payment options. Uber Eats and Grub Hub also became delivery options for food truck diners. Trucks have also relocated from city centers and large festivals, to suburban locations and local street fairs. As food trucks move to better integrate social media and work to connect with customers, online menus and orders have become necessary.

Yum. Are you ready to order?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for promoting food trucks.
  2. There are videos available on YouTube about food trucks: https://youtu.be/gZgmmzw3-30
  3. As an example, show various websites for food trucks:
    1. Tacos el Jery: https://www.tacoseljerrywatsonville.com/
    1. Blue Sparrow: https://www.bluesparrowpgh.com/
    1. Shiso Crispy: https://www.shisocrispy.com/ 
  4. Show website a national listing of food trucks booking and ordering ahead – Best Food Trucks: https://www.bestfoodtrucks.com/
  5. Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
  6. Divide students into groups to work on this exercise.
  7. For a food truck (their choice of food and geography), have each team select three different tactics. For each tactic, explain why it was selected and how it will be used.

Source:  IBISWorld; New York Times; other news sources

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Wing Drones Can Now Deliver Girl Scout Cookies

When you get a cookie craving do you go to the store? Poor you. If you lived in a Christiansburg, Virginia, a community that tests commercial delivery drones, you could get Girl Scout cookies delivered directly to your front lawn!

Christiansburg has been testing Wing drones since 2019. Wing is the drone subsidiary of Alphabet (Google’s parent company). The main delivered products are rather mundane, such as pastries, tacos, and coffee. But now – Wing will be delivering those tasty Thin Mints (my personal favorite) and more. Wing worked with the local Girl Scout troops who said they have had a harder time selling cookies during the pandemic. And, let’s face it, delivering cookies is an excellent way to garner public support for commercial drone services.

Wing’s drones can carry items up to 3.3 pounds that fit into a special aerodynamic package. The drones don’t actually land in your yard; drones hover over a designated delivery area and lower the package to the ground using a string. Customers then retrieve the package from the delivery area. The drones fly lower than 400 feet and cannot be near airports. Items range from foods, flowers, medicine, and more. In addition to the U.S. location, Wing is also delivering via drone in select locations in Australia and Finland.

Now, how many boxes of cookies do you want?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Have them think of all the products that could be delivered by drones.
  2. In order to be successful, companies must be able to physically get a product into the hands of the customers. Discuss how a distribution channel works.
  3. For Girl Scout cookies, what distribution channels are used now?
  4. How can the channel be expanded? What approach could be used?
  5. Show videos of Girl Scout cookie delivery: https://youtu.be/DFfsepDkTkA
  6. What can a drone deliver? https://youtu.be/HVDZgTJ8JLA
  7. View Wing’s Website for additional information and videos: https://wing.com/
  8. How does drone delivery change the experience? Positive or negative?
  9. Finally, what types of companies will benefit from the use of drone deliveries?

Source: Associated Press; USA Today; other news sources

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New Products for Snacks and More

It seems as if there is a proliferation of new food products hitting the market this spring. In just one week recently we found a number of new food products from Pillsbury, Kind, and Target. What’s going on? Are consumers hungrier than usual, or are they just hungry for change?

Well, it’s a little of both. Yes, consumers are hungry, but we are now at the one-year point in the Covid-19 pandemic and consumers have also made changes to their eating, cooking, and shopping habits. We eat out less and snack more.

In Target’s case, it is launching a new grocery brand named “Favorite Day” with more than 700 snacks and treats that are focused on consumers who want to indulge. The new line includes cookies, trail mix, ice cream, snacks, beverage mixers, frozen desserts, and more. Target’s research indicates that customers want to treat themselves as they juggle hectic schedules and stress. (The new Favorite Day private-label store brand replaces Archer Farms and Simply Balanced which generated more than $2 billion in sales last year.)

Pillsbury is launching its first-ever ready-to-eat cookies, after years of successfully selling frozen cookie dough. Why the switch to pre-made? Pillsbury’s research shows that consumers are tired of constantly cooking and cleaning and are looking for convenience and shortcuts in the kitchen. Pre-pandemic, the pre-made cookie category was only a single-digit growth market. But now the category has grown in sales by roughly 12% in the past year.

In Kind’s situation, the company has a new frozen smoothie bowl for breakfasts. Smoothie bowels have spiked in popularity, including new kitchen appliances focused on smoothies. And, when a year ago consumers might have eaten a breakfast at a restaurant, there has been a sharp decline in eating breakfast out and instead consumers have turned to granola, cereal, eggs, bagels, fruit, and pancakes. According to research company IRI, frozen breakfast foods increased by 7% last year to $3.7 billion.

Try them out. Will they make it into your regular shopping rotation?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. This is a great example of introducing new products.
  2. Show Target’s new products: https://www.target.com/b/favorite-day/-/N-q643lewlzpu?lnk=snav_rd_favorite_day
  3. Show Pillsbury’s new cookies: https://www.pillsbury.com/products/already-baked-snacks/soft-baked-cookies/soft-baked-butterscotch-chocolate-chip-cookies
  4. View Kind snacks: https://www.kindsnacks.com/
  5. Discuss the steps of the product innovation process.
  6. Discuss the importance of environmental scanning. What are some of the factors that have led these companies to introduce new products?
  7. Finally, use these examples to discuss the various stages of the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?

Source: AdWeek; CNN News; Minneapolis Star Tribune; other news sources.

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