CBS Moneywatch

Has COVID-19 killed restaurants? Not by a long shot

Starting a restaurant during a pandemic

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Food consultant Nancy Jo Seaton is seeing an increase in foodies starting to make their own food products. For first-time entrepreneurs, the biggest hurdle is scaling up for mass production. 

Independent Processor

Deli Plant of the Future

An influx of new shoppers seek flavorful deli meat choices that are convenient, healthy and, above all, safe.

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This has created an important paradigm shift in many aspects of the deli industry. During the pandemic, a large number of major meat processors shut down their lines because of rapid spread of the virus within their operations. The result was shortages in supply of both raw material and further processed meats.

PMQ Pizza Magazine

Follow these expert tips for choosing and using oils, vinegars and spices across your menu

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When choosing olive oils, think about what speaks to your brand identity, suggests Nancy Jo Seaton, president of Seaton Food Consultants in Stamford, Connecticut.

Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery

Sustaining bread category growth during 2021

Bread categories saw growth during the pandemic—now bakers just need to sustain that momentum.

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“In an area where a vegan lifestyle and eating for health are in high focus, adding quinoa and other ancient grains could dramatically increase product sales,” says Seaton. “But in an area where consumers are focused on more traditional products, textures, and flavors, substitutions for the sake of health benefits could negatively impact sales. Knowing your consumer is key.” She also notes offering half loaves helps keep customers coming back to the grocery store.

Independent Processor

2021 Outlook: Full speed ahead into 2021

After an unpredictable 2020, processors will still have to navigate COVID-19 and its aftereffects in 2021.

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In order to have a successful 2021, Seaton recommends a couple of tactics. One, small processors should work with their customers, whether they are retail or restaurant businesses, to become indispensable partners. That partnership entails not only being able to work with their ideas, but coming to them with promotion or product ideas of your own. It moves the relationship from a simple transactional one to a collaborative one.

Prepared Foods

R&D: Between the Lines

The starting point for new product success? Expert Nancy Jo Seaton says it begins with specifications and owning your own product profile.

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Editor’s Note: Although there may be a pandemic-related slowdown, there’s no stopping new product development activity. To better help its readers with initial new product evaluation and development Prepared Foods asked Nancy Jo Seaton, owner and president of Seaton Food Consultants, to create a thought leadership series. Seaton has more than 30 years of food industry experience and most recently led global product evaluation for the Subway restaurants. She also has worked for such global food brands as Chiquita, Unilever and ConAgra.

A life spent in food gives Seaton a unique perspective on consistent product quality. Her many diverse roles from sales to manufacturing to foodservice gave her the opportunity to pioneer an innovative and customized approach to product evaluation. Combining organoleptic assessment with Good Lab Practices she has successfully executed this evaluation system for many years.

This is the first installment in an ongoing series.

Ensuring product consistency is essential to building sales, and your brand.  Your retailers are relying on you to deliver a consistent product to their customers and, when you do, the reward is continued sales.

You pour so much effort into getting that first order, but what if the customer doesn’t re-order? After you get your customer to buy something for the first time, what makes them buy it again, and again? 

Consistent quality.

Keeping your retail customers coming back for more comes solely from your ability to provide a consistent product over time.  

Whether you are working with a third-party manufacturer or your internal team for production, having a detailed description of your product is critical to future success.  This is much more than a recipe, it’s a clear description of the final product that you intend to sell to customers.  

Step fully into the role of being the master of your product. This line of thinking begins with your “elevator pitch.” What are those few words that you say to someone at a trade show or meeting to make then eager to give your product a try. 

Start with defining what makes your product uniquely yours. Is it the ingredients? How it’s made? The packaging, appearance, flavor, aroma? Don’t get caught up in using formal descriptions, rather use your own personal interpretation of the attributes and be consistent with that language.  

Being able to completely identify your product before manufacture is essential. Appearance, texture, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, shelf life, experience upon opening, outcome after cooking or blending. Being able to define each aspect is critical — what MUST it be — to be yours.  

Put pen to paper and take some time to put together a complete picture of the item, including photos! 

Flavor & The Menu

On The Horizon 

2020 insights that can help guide the way to a successful year ahead

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What can restaurants do to supplant the trend of home-meal subscription services? Consider a subscription service where customers can order one or two boxed meals during the week. All items can be pre-portioned, parcooked and baked so that the completion of the meal is minimal, and the delivery of flavors is optimal.