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Droughts, storms and global demand tests America’s love affair with avocado - Lack of guac
Jan 25th 2018 | NEW YORK

America’s enthusiasm for avocados may be dented, however, by soaring prices. The wholesale price for a case of 48 avocados peaked at $83.75 in September, up from $34.45 a year before....Supply shortfalls, brought about by droughts, storms and wildfires in California, Chile and Mexico, help to explain the jump. Production in California dropped by 44% in 2017. Harvests in Mexico that year were off by 20%. Labour strikes in the country further reduced supply.

Growing global demand is also pushing up prices. Both Chile and Peru have concluded trade agreements with China, eliminating tariffs on their avocado exports. Peru’s avocado sales to China, although small in volume compared with Chile’s and Mexico’s, surged by 3,700% in 2016. Other countries, including Canada and Japan, have also worked up their appetite, raising aggregate imports by 32% between 2014 and 2016.

Raising production will be tricky. This is because avocados are a fussy plant to grow...Salinity levels need to be just right, the slope of the terrain not too steep and temperatures stable. Erratic weather conditions can easily kill the crop.
agriculture  economics  food  guacamole  recipes  avocados  salsa_chutney_relish_pickle  Chipotle 
february 2018 by jerryking
The Shake Shack Economy - The New Yorker
JANUARY 26, 2015 ISSUE

The Shake Shack Economy
BY JAMES SUROWIECKI

Unlike traditional fast-food restaurants, fast-casuals emphasize fresh, natural, and often locally sourced ingredients. (Chipotle, for instance, tries to use only antibiotic-free meat.) Perhaps as a result, their food tends to taste better. It’s also more expensive. The average McDonald’s customer spends around five dollars a visit; the average Chipotle check is more than twice that. Fast-casual restaurants first emerged in serious numbers in the nineteen-nineties, and though the industry is just a fraction of the size of the traditional fast-food business, it has grown remarkably quickly. Today, according to the food-service consulting firm Technomic, it accounts for thirty-four billion dollars in sales. Since Chipotle went public, in 2006, its stock price has risen more than fifteen hundred per cent.

The rise of Chipotle and its peers isn’t just a business story. It’s a story about income distribution, changes in taste, and advances in technology. For most of the fast-food industry’s history, taste was a secondary consideration.
fast-casual  food  globalization  James_Surowiecki  shifting_tastes  entrepreneur  Danny_Meyer  Panera  Chipotle  fast-food  income_distribution  Shake_Shack 
january 2015 by jerryking
Boss Talk: A New Test for Panera's Pay-What-You-Can
June 4, 2013| WSJ |By ANNIE GASPARRO.

Amid increasing competition, Panera's co-Chief Executive Ron Shaich has stepped up spending on marketing, added new menu categories like pasta and developed a vast loyalty program.

But perhaps the chain's biggest recent innovation was opening pay-what-you-can cafes—there are no set prices, just suggested donations—in markets that are struggling economically, such as Detroit and St. Louis. Three years into the experiment, the company now is testing one pay-what-you-can item—turkey chili in a bread bowl—at for-profit St. Louis stores, in hopes the idea will expand to all of its 1,700 outlets....
...WSJ: How has the competitive landscape changed in the fast-casual area?

Mr. Shaich: We were clearly the first people out there in the space. For at least five years, in the mid '90s, my stock was flat. I couldn't get anybody to see a place that existed between fast food and fine dining.

Basically, fast casual is us, Chipotle and Starbucks SBUX +1.09% . Probably between the three of us, we represent 95% of the sales that are considered fast casual.

WSJ: Do you expect a shakeout in the industry?

Mr. Shaich: There's always a continual shakeout going on; this is a dynamic industry. The reality is, what was good enough yesterday will not be good enough tomorrow.
fast-casual  restaurants  CEOs  Panera  innovation  experimentation  Detroit  good_enough  competitive_landscape  menus  new_categories  Chipotle  Starbucks  loyalty_management  shakeouts 
june 2013 by jerryking
Yes, Healthful Fast Food Is Possible. But Edible?
April 3, 2013 |- NYTimes.com | By MARK BITTMAN

After the success of companies like Whole Foods, and healthful (or theoretically healthful) brands like Annie’s and Kashi, there’s now a market for a fast-food chain that’s not only healthful itself, but vegetarian-friendly, sustainable and even humane. And, this being fast food: cheap. “It is significant, and I do believe it is coming from consumer desire to have choices and more balance,” says Andy Barish, a restaurant analyst at Jefferies LLC, the investment bank. “And it’s not just the coasts anymore.” ...What I’d like is a place that serves only good options, where you don’t have to resist the junk food to order well, and where the food is real — by which I mean dishes that generally contain few ingredients and are recognizable to everyone, not just food technologists....In recent years, the fast-food industry has started to heed these new demands. Billions of dollars have been invested in more healthful fast-food options, and the financial incentives justify these expenditures. About half of all the money spent on food in the United States is for meals eaten outside the home. And last year McDonald’s earned $5.5 billion in profits on $88 billion in sales. If a competitor offered a more healthful option that was able to capture just a single percent of that market share, it would make $55 million. Chipotle, the best newcomer of the last generation, has beaten that 1 percent handily. Last year, sales approached $3 billion. In the fourth quarter, they grew by 17 percent over the same period in the previous year.

Numbers are tricky to pin down for more healthful options because the fast food industry doesn’t yet have a category for “healthful.”...Chipotle combines the best aspects of Nouveau Junk to create a new category that we might call Improved Fast Food. At Chipotle, the food is fresher and tastes much better than traditional fast food. The sourcing, production and cooking is generally of a higher level; and the overall experience is more pleasant. The guacamole really is made on premises, and the chicken (however tasteless) is cooked before your eyes. It’s fairly easy to eat vegan there, but those burritos can pack on the calories. As a competitor told me, “Several brands had a head start on [the Chipotle founder Steve] Ells, but he kicked their [expletive] with culture and quality. It’s not shabby for assembly-line steam-table Mexican food. It might be worth $10 billion right now.” (It is.)

Chipotle no longer stands alone in the Improved Fast Food world: Chop’t, Maoz, Freshii, Zoës Kitchen and several others all have their strong points. And — like Chipotle — they all have their limitations, starting with calories and fat.
...Veggie Grill, Lyfe Kitchen, Tender Greens and others have solved the challenge of bringing formerly upscale, plant-based foods to more of a mass audience. But the industry seems to be focused on a niche group that you might call the health-aware sector of the population. (If you’re reading this article, you’re probably in it.) Whole Foods has proved that you can build a publicly traded business, with $16 billion in market capitalization, by appealing to this niche. But fast food is, at its core, a class issue. Many people rely on that Tendercrisp because they need to, and our country’s fast-food problem won’t be solved — no matter how much innovation in vegan options or high-tech ovens — until the prices come down and this niche sector is no longer niche. ...Soda consumption is down; meat consumption is down; sales of organic foods are up; more people are expressing concern about G.M.O.s, additives, pesticides and animal welfare. The lines out the door — first at Chipotle and now at Maoz, Chop’t, Tender Greens and Veggie Grill — don’t lie. According to a report in Advertising Age, McDonald’s no longer ranks in the top 10 favorite restaurants of Millennials, a group that comprises as many as 80 million people.
Lyfe_Kitchen  Mark_Bittman  fast-food  Burger_King  Chipotle  plant-based  vegetables  fresh_produce  vegan  McDonald's  social_classes  perishables  Whole_Foods  millennials  fast-casual  new_categories 
april 2013 by jerryking
Chipotle, Panera Gaining Fast on McDonalds - WSJ.com
Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread, so-called fast-casual restaurants, have posted solid results even as traditional fast-food chains like McDonald's and Yum

Chipotle facing a lot of higher food costs.
web_video  McDonald's  Panera  Chipotle  fast-food  commodities  fast-casual  Tex-Mex 
february 2013 by jerryking

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