Tag Archives: Food

Global Cuisine in the Supermarket

Why do grocery stores still have an ethnic foods aisle? This seems out-of-date as an estimated 40% of Americans now identify as nonwhite. While some people think this is a racist label, others just find it confusing and makes it hard to find the foods they want.

The origin of the ethnic food aisle date back to the start of supermarkets in the early 1900s. Prior to the 1920s, shoppers visited several independent shops (butcher, baker, etc.) for different foods and supplies. In fact, some stores retrieved all items from the shelves for the consumer – the consumer didn’t shop, or roam down aisles looking for foods. A clerk did the shopping for them.

The first major self-service grocery supermarket was Piggly Wiggly in 1916, located in Memphis, Tenn. The growth of supermarkets and self-service shopping required that foods be organized by like items and tastes so they could be found in the store. Items needed for international cuisine dishes were therefore placed together so that the recipe items could be easily purchased.

Today, the ethnic food aisles seem to be a hodge-podge of items. There might be Chinese ingredients, fish sauces, Mexican spices, Korean noodles, African flour, and others all pulled together in a central place. Even in that format, many shoppers like the variety of the aisle, considering it a place to find new or unusual flavors.

Some stores such as Kroger have integrated global foods into every aisle and seen great success. Other stores prefer to keep items separate so that they can be highlighted differently.

What’s your opinion?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the evolution of grocery stores and shopping.
  2. Show a great video highlighting ethnic food aisle issues: https://youtu.be/4Q–YIt_0Hw
  3. For a longer exercise, divide students into teams and have them visit a local American supermarket. They can diagram aisles and take photos of shelves and foods.
  4. What are their observations about how and where more ethnic foods are stocked?
  5. How could ethnic foods be categorized in stores?

Source:  Business Insider; New York Times

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mac & Cheese Ice Cream

The location of a product on the product life cycle is an important indicator of how the product should be marketed. After all, there is no reason for a Super Bowl ad for a product in the declining stage. But how do marketers bring new life and positioning to mature products. Well, Kraft has done a good job with this summer’s new ice cream flavor.

It’s the time of year when the demand for ice cream is at a peak. Favorite flavors include, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, rocky road, mac and cheese, chocolate chip… Wait, what? Mac & Cheese flavored ice cream?

Yes, you read that correctly. In a new food mashup that takes advantage of its reputation as a traditional comfort food, Kraft Mac & Cheese Ice Cream was (briefly) available to help quench our summer desire for cool treats. Kraft worked with Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen ice cream for a co-branded product that looks suspiciously yellow and supposedly tastes like mac and cheese.

The new flavor was only available online and at 23 Van Leeuwen shops in New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. Unfortunately for fans, the gluten-free ice cream quickly sold out.

This isn’t Kraft’s only mashup. Last year Kraft teamed with Cheetos for Cheetos Mac & Cheese in three spicy flavors: Bold & Cheesy, Flamin’ Hot, and Cheesy Jalapeno. These types of food combinations – mashups – bring renewed interest to old, familiar foods and flavors. It’s also a perfect blend for social media postings to involve old and new consumers.

What else could use a mashup?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What are their favorite ice cream flavors? Has anyone had a uniquely produced ice cream?
  2. Discuss the marketing appeal of unusual product mashups.
  3. Show the ice cream Website: https://vanleeuwenicecream.com/product/kraft-mac-and-cheese/
  4. Show video about the product: https://youtu.be/x12V_AyLA2w
  5. Where is ice cream on the product life cycle? How about Mac & Cheese?
  6. Where is the new product on the PLC? What is the expected length of the cycle?
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team choose two brands for a mashup product.
  8. How should these new products be marketed?
  9. What are the potential results?

Source:  Ad Week; NPR; other news sources

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Classroom Activities