Today’s Summit F&B Listening Report:
Top News/F&B Headlines:
- Another bleak economic reckoning from the coronavirus pandemic arrived on Wednesday: the biggest one-month plunge in U.S. retail sales in the nearly three decades of record-keeping. Grocery stores, pharmacies and other sellers of essential items experienced a surge of demand last month. But that was outweighed by a steep decline in other categories as businesses shuttered and shoppers restricted their spending.
- New York City, already a world epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, sharply increased its death toll on Tuesday, after officials said they were now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died from it. The new figures appeared to increase the overall United States death count by 17 percent to more than 26,000.
- Restaurants and hotels, which have taken the largest economic hit so far from the pandemic, have received less than one-tenth of the special federal assistance for small businesses that Mr. Trump approved earlier this month. A presentation from the Small Business Administration, shared with members of Congress on Tuesday, shows more than one million loans totaling nearly $250 billion have been approved, out of the $350 billion allocated for the program. The loans are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis, in a process that has given an advantage to businesses with existing lender relationships and the resources to navigate the government application process. If borrowers abide by certain conditions, including spending the bulk of the money on employee payroll, they will never have to pay back the money.
- The National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association has issued a letter to its members on how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the industry. NFRA President and CEO H.V.” Skip” Shaw Jr. said during his 35 years as a part of the association he can’t recall a “more challenging or disorienting stretch of days,” adding that new information and guidelines about the Covid-19 virus are seemingly being released every minute.
- Tyson Foods has purchased more than 150 infrared walk-through temperature scanners. So far, the scanners have been installed in four facilities—pork plants in Iowa and Indiana and poultry plants in Arkansas and Georgia. The company says it expects that eventually every one of its food production facilities will have at least one in place.
- Instagram is partnering with ChowNow, a Los Angeles-based online ordering platform, to provide restaurants commission-free menu ordering through the popular social media app. The new ‘Order Food’ button was developed by Instagram to help drive digital orders for restaurants relying on curbside pickup and takeout. The button can be found on Instagram Stories, allowing for quick and easy ordering. ChowNow, which is on track to add about 4,000 new restaurants by the end of April, said the new ordering feature is free to its 13,000 independent restaurant clients across the U.S. and Canada
Yesterday’s update shared the news that Smithfield Foods was closing one of the country’s largest pork-producing plants indefinitely after nearly 300 employees tested positive for COVID-19. With this news, a flood of others announced closings, including JBS USA, Cargill, and Tyson Foods. Smithfield Foods CEO Kenneth Sullivan warns “These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers. These farmers have nowhere to send their animals.”
Consumer Search Behavior:
Today’s top searches are split between President Trump’s decision to halt funding for the World Health Organization and shoulder dystocia. The shoulder dystocia is associated with Kara Keough, whose child passed away due to this condition. Another notable search is the earthquake that hit Utah ~9 miles away from Salt Lake City.
F&B specific – Thai, Cuban, and Mexican cuisine are in demand as consumers search for their favorite foods near them.
Heroes– who’s making the news for doing the right thing:Top of Form
- Teriyaki Madness has introduced a pay-it-forward campaign, through which everyday people can help provide free meals to healthcare workers. Teriyaki Madness is partnering with its fans to match the contribution for the cost of meals for healthcare workers. By visiting its site and selecting the “Healthcare Teriyaki Bar”, customers can have a fully loaded teriyaki spread delivered to the healthcare location of their choice. Every Teriyaki Bar feeds giant, hot and healthy teriyaki bowls for up to 10 people.
- As thousands of bars and restaurants throughout the country temporarily close, Skrewball Whiskey is raising awareness through its SKREW COVID-19 campaign. As part of the campaign, Skrewball is donating and encouraging others to donate to USBG’s new Bartender Emergency Assistance program. In addition, Skrewball is creating care packages within the San Diego community, all designed to help others and spread kindness. For every Instagram share of the brand’s SKREW COVID-19 campaign, Skrewball will be donating $1 to the organization, with the goal of raising $100,000 to support out-of-work hospitality staff and their families. The brand is also encouraging others to donate via this link.
- Bluepoint Hospitality has pivoted from presenting ultra-luxe culinary meals to serving its community – a remote sailing town of 16,000 residents – with boxed-up carry-out from three of its six establishments, while keeping ALL 50 of its employees on staff. And, the hospitality group situated in Maryland – one of the states hit hardest by the current pandemic – continues to sustain the salaries of its employees. A rarity in the current climate of today’s hospitality industry.
- Jacksonville, Florida-based Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG), parent company and home of Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, rewarded thousands of customers with free groceries during Monday night’s healthcare professionals and first responders shopping hour. The community heroes shopping in all Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie stores throughout seven states in the Southeast were surprised with a $0 grocery total at the register.
Burger King is not looking to slow down marketing efforts now. In a new campaign, Burger King is showcasing its “smarts” by appealing to Gen Z. In this new campaign, the fast-food chain wants you to prove your mind is still functioning during this lockdown. This campaign grills you on subjects ranging from biology and chemistry to math and literature. If you get the question right, you get a coupon for a free Whopper.
This latest stunt comes off the backs of two other campaigns since the beginning of quarantine. One included the brand changing its tagline to the “Stay Home of the Whopper” and Burger King France creating a “Quarantine Whopper” kit that you can build at home.
Burger King’s strides to provide interactive content is not a strategy we have seen a lot of. This commitment to continue to provide interactive content, while still providing opportunities for free meals for everyday consumers, has been a refreshing outbreak in the new marketing norm of displaying employees working from home to get the job done. Burger King’s strategy is one that answers a larger question. Is it possible to still produce lighthearted content amidst an epidemic? The answer; yes.