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jerryking : lyfe_kitchen   2

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
Former McDonald's Honchos Take On Sustainable Cuisine
07.31.12 | Wired Business | Wired.com | By Frederick Kaufman.

At Lyfe Kitchen (the name is an acronym for Love Your Food Everyday), all the cookies shall be dairy-free, all the beef from grass-fed, humanely raised cows. At Lyfe Kitchen there shall be no butter, no cream, no white sugar, no white flour, no high-fructose corn syrup, no GMOs, no trans fats, no additives, and no need for alarm: There will still be plenty of burgers, not to mention manifold kegs of organic beer and carafes of biodynamic wine. None of this would seem surprising if we were talking about one or 10 or even 20 outposts nationwide. But Lyfe’s ambition is to open hundreds of restaurants around the country, in the span of just five years....On the journey that Roberts wants to take, organic food producers and Lyfe Kitchen will travel toward a realm of financial and foodie triumph. Success will be based on the strict market discipline that made fast food possible in the first place, a drill that can now extend beyond commodity beef, commodity wheat, commodity soybean oil, commodity sugar, and commodity potatoes. Market research Roberts did at McDonald’s convinced him that mothers, the dominant decisionmakers about mealtimes, are more focused than ever on healthy food. So this time around, brussels sprouts and quinoa will enter the picture. This time around, the end result—the food—will look and smell and taste more like an entré from some bistro in Brooklyn than a 30-second stop along Fast-Food Alley. But the process will be roughly the same, in that the problems of enormous scale can be solved through similar uses of technology, efficiency, and experience. “I would say that the pattern of this mosaic is very familiar,” Roberts says. “The strategy of the rollout, the people and their skill sets, the systems of training and hiring and finance and accounting and supply chain, the development of the property and real estate system—they are all very similar.”
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  food  McDonald's  rollouts  organic  Lyfe_Kitchen  fast-food  scaling  seasonality  fresh_produce 
august 2012 by jerryking

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