Today’s Summit F&B Listening Report:
Top News/F&B Headlines:
- The Senate passed a nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus bill by voice vote Tuesday that includes additional money for the small business loan program as well as for hospitals and testing, making way for the legislation to become law as soon as the end of the week.
- A handful of mostly southern U.S. states will begin loosening economic restrictions this week in the midst of a still virulent pandemic, providing a live-fire test of whether America’s communities can start to reopen without triggering a surge that may force them to close again. The Republican governors of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio all announced on Monday they would begin peeling back the curbs on commerce and social activity aimed at stopping the coronavirus outbreak over the next two weeks. Colorado’s Democratic governor said on Tuesday he would open retail stores on May 1.
- A bipartisan majority of Americans said they want to continue to shelter in place to protect themselves from the coronavirus, despite the impact to the economy, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll that also showed a decline in approval of Trump’s response to the pandemic. Overall, in the national online poll from April 15-21, 72% of adults in the United States said people should stay at home ‘until the doctors and public health officials say it is safe.’ That included 88% of Democrats, 55% of Republicans, and seven in 10 independents.
- The Chipotle Mexican Grill will pay a $25 million fine as part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over the agency’s probe of the chain’s prior foodborne illness incidents dating back to 2015. The agreement ends an investigation of a wave of foodborne illness outbreaks that sickened customers and led to plunging sales at the fast-casual chain. The federal probe affirmed that Chipotle restaurants in various cities including cases in Boston, Ohio and Simi Valley, Calif. failed to follow the company’s established protocols to prevent sick employees from working.
- Even if it’s not mandated by the government, many restaurant owners are making sure staff cover their faces. Restaurants and bars have long been held to some of the most stringent regulations for food safety, with health departments enforcing regulations for temperature control, handwashing, cross contamination, and the use of gloves to prepare food. The novel coronavirus has made those procedures all the more important, as workers try to protect themselves and contain the disease’s spread. And as some states and municipalities begin to contemplate life after the novel coronavirus surge, restaurant workers are increasingly being told to wear masks.
- 2020 Oktoberfest, the world’s largest folk festival, has been canceled this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Every fall, an estimated six million beer lovers, enthusiastic revelers, and tourists in brand new dirndls attend the two-week event in Munich, Germany. But in a joint press conference on Tuesday morning, Bavaria’s Minister-President Markus Söder and Munich’s Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter said that there was no way to safely go forward with the festivities this year. The Wiesn, as it’s known locally, had been scheduled to begin on Saturday, September 19.
Consumer Search Behavior:
Today, searches gather around news that southern California was hit with an earthquake of a 3.7 magnitude Wednesday morning. Also making big news is retired tight end Rob Gronkowski “Gronk” announcement to leave retirement to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Tom Brady.
F&B specific – Chipotle has earned the top two spots in food related searches as it agrees to pay $25 million in fines in response to the tainted food it served from 2015 to 2018 that sickened 1,1000 customers.
Heroes– who’s making the news for doing the right thing:
- Two insurers — Allstate and American Family Insurance — announced Monday they will give back about $800 million to their auto insurance customers because people are driving far less during the coronavirus crisis. Allstate said it will refund about 15% of premiums paid by its customers in April and May, which comes to a total of about $600 million.
- Wines from Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants including Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Union Square Cafe, Maialino, and Marta are up for bids starting today. Following the news that Danny Meyer’s massively popular Shake Shack chain returned its $10 million small business loan, Meyer has now teamed up with Zachys Wine to auction off rare bottles from the wine cellars of his fine-dining restaurants to raise money for HUGS, Union Square Hospitality Group’s employee relief fund. The fund has so far awarded over $700,000 in grants. Zachys expects the sale, which offers wines from the cellars from Meyer’s restaurants Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Union Square Cafe, Maialino, and Marta, to realize in excess of $1,000,000 in addition to that.
- José Andrés has mobilized his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, to help feed emergency dispatchers, sanitation workers, and families in need all across the country. On Twitter, he’s been a vocal advocate for government action to keep food banks funded and save small businesses, and on Thursday, he announced an impressive commitment to healthcare workers: Once his restaurants reopen, they’ll eat for free for the rest of the year.
- In a release from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: “This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With a pandemic bringing painful human, social, and economic costs, it’s not a time for celebration. But it does feel that the investments we’ve made, expertise we’ve built, and experience we’ve gained over the last two decades has prepared us for this moment. From day one, the foundation has embraced a data-led, evidence-based approach to improving health, reducing poverty, and expanding opportunity. We rely on scientific and technical expertise. Together, these building blocks mean that in addition to our financial resources, we have the capacity and capability to play a significant role in the COVID-19 response. This is a unique situation; we are in a unique position to help. And today, we are announcing additional funding of $150 million that brings our total commitment so far to more than $250 million.”
What is summer without a cookout? Oscar Mayer has found a solution to the typical backyard, summer cookouts with its latest campaign, Front Yard Cookout.
This new campaign is suggesting people do a Front Yard Cookout on May 2 where they can see their neighbors, but from a distance of at least 12 hot dogs apart. However, from now until the end of May, each time someone shares an image from a cookout with the #FrontYardCookout Oscar Mayer will donate a meal to Feeding America, which is already getting 1 million meals from the Kraft Heinz brand.
During this epidemic, brands are having to go above and beyond to rethink its typical strategies, with ones in line with today’s current health concerns, while still engaging its audience. Oscar Mayer pairing a social distancing approach with charity, during its busiest season is just another example of how brands are utilizing their platform to spread positivity and awareness.