Fresh-Cut Foodservice

In Fresh Cut this month, we look at the foodservice industry and its relationship with fresh-cut. Foodservice and fresh-cut are natural partners.

According to research from Technomic – sponsored by IFPA and NatureWorks – the growth in foodservice will outpace the growth of the retail sector in the next five years. While retail is expected to grow 14 percent, from $472 billion to $537 billion by 2010, foodservice is expected to increase from $481 billion to $601 billion – a growth of 25 percent.

This is where fresh-cut comes in handy. With more meals to serve, chefs are busier than ever. Fresh-cut products take the prep work out of the kitchen. The need for back-of-the-house labor can be greatly reduced, making for a more efficient kitchen. And, as chefs and other kitchen staff become more pressed for time, they can focus on what they do best: making the dishes look and taste great.

An added bonus of fresh-cut produce is food safety. Since the product is already cleaned and cut, it takes at least one more set of hands off the product – and one more step away from a food-safety compromise.

As the number of people dining out continues to rise, fresh-cut is going to play an ever-increasing role in restaurants. Add to that the increased pressure from consumers for restaurants to offer healthful meals, and it’s a recipe for success.

According to research from the Produce Marketing Association, 43 percent of consumers order items off the “healthier” section of the menu at least some of the time. Twenty-seven percent order off that section occasionally.

In addition, more than 60 percent of people request changes – at least occasionally – to a menu item in order to make it more healthful. This offers great opportunities because fresh-cut products are a simple and easy solution to chefs looking to offer more healthful options.

Fresh-cut processors are able to offer chefs something else: year-round availability of high-quality product. Because of its perishable nature, fresh-cut product must be high quality in order to ensure its shelf life. And it has to be that same high quality every time it’s put in the package.

It’s not just restaurants that benefit from buying fresh-cut produce items. A lot of time is saved in schools, hospitals and other cafeterias by making the switch from whole product to fresh-cut.

Fresh-cut produce brings convenience, efficiency and safety into the kitchens of our nation’s restaurants and institutions. To make this partnership with foodservice clients even greater, David Henkes of Technomic suggests that suppliers expand their product offerings, serve as an information resource, self-assess their positioning relative to changing demographics and become consumer-centric.

Processors have to know consumer trends just as much as foodservice operators do. If you don’t offer products that fit the trends, foodservice operators will go elsewhere.

To learn more about Technomic’s report on trends in the foodservice industry, read the story on page read “Foodservice Trends” in this issue. It offers a great peek into what’s going on and how fresh-cut can get on board.

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