Is the American love affair with the burger over?

Non-burger restaurants are on the upswing

While America may be the hamburger capital of the world, favorable consumer opinion of non-burger restaurants is on the upswing while interest in burger eateries is flat, according to the 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend study. Time will tell if there will be any noticeable effect on the supply chain.

Subway is the 2011 Quick Serve Restaurant of the Year, followed by Dairy Queen, Wendy’s and McDonalds, says the study. However, the brands whose equity increased the most over last year include Domino’s Pizza, KFC and Taco Bell.

While some negative publicity regarding the proportion of non-beef filler content in its tacos affected Taco Bell, Domino’s recent ad campaign admitting its pizza needs improvement seems to be having a positive impact on consumers. “Domino’s improvement shows the impact of transparency on consumer brand perception,” says Jeni Lee Chapman, executive vice president of brand and communication consulting at Harris Interactive. “Consumers are more forgiving with companies that take responsibility and are forthcoming about their efforts to improve.”

In other categories, Panera Bread is the 2011 Casual Dining Brand of the Year, followed by three Italian food restaurants-Carrabba’s, Olive Garden and Maggiano’s Little Italy. M&M’s Plain Chocolate Candy is the 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend Sweet Treat Brand of the Year, with Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Candy Bars ranking second and last year’s highest ranked treat, Hershey’s Kisses chocolate candy, ranked third.

For more information on the Harris Poll study, contact Dagney Cassella, 212-539-9600.

(Top): The top pressures for manufacturers in gaining supply chain visibility are growing global operations and the complexity it causes. (Bottom): International visibility of supply chains can be enhanced through satellites and cloud technology. Source: Aberdeen Group.

Supply chain complexity confounds visibility

The increased complexity of global supply chains has led to longer lead times, more pipeline inventory and the need to control downstream logistics, according a recent study from Aberdeen Group entitled Supply Chain Visibility Excellence. In its most recent supply chain visibility survey, Aberdeen Group found that growing supply chain complexity was the top business pressure for 44 percent of the survey respondents. This factor has contributed to increased supply chain management costs.

It is not surprising that, in the current state of global economic turmoil, visibility has taken center stage, says the study. The report focuses on gaining visibility into critical elements across the end-to-end logistics network for improving cost and service. Before a manufacturer can reduce inventory or landed cost, it needs visibility into them before applying tools to adapt to the information it collects. Landed cost is the actual total cost of a received shipment, and includes the purchase price of the goods, shipping costs to the destination, insurance, and customs duties and taxes where they apply.

The study found that best-in-class manufacturers had 96 percent of orders delivered to customers complete and on time, and 96 percent of orders received from suppliers were complete and on time. The survey also found that best-in-class manufacturers were able to decrease landed costs per unit by 3 percent in the past year and lower supply chain execution costs (relative to revenue) by 3 percent.

Best-in-class companies had, compared to laggards, a 25 percent higher complete and on-time delivery to customers and a 12 percent greater advantage in year-over-year unit-landed costs, says the report. Best-in-class manufacturers were 1.7 times more likely than laggards to have online visibility into inbound, in-transit shipment status and 56 percent more likely than all other companies to have online visibility into accrued supply chain costs.

The study recommends manufacturers not measuring up to:

  1. Extend visibility within and beyond their enterprise
  2. Utilize dynamic business intelligence and decision-making
  3. Move to security, resiliency and efficiency in supply chain execution.

The study further recommends a four-part action plan best-in-class manufacturers used to stay ahead of their competition. The PACE model is an acronym for pressures, actions, capabilities and enablers. Specific actions recommended to overcome the pressure from growing complexity are: improving internal, cross-departmental visibility and integration into supply chain transactions and costs; and purchasing and/or upgrading technology solutions to automate portions of the process. Web-based, cloud technology could offer some help in breaking the communications barrier.

For more information, visit Aberdeen Group’s website, or call 617-854-5200.

FDA launches consumer-friendly web search for consumers during recalls

Consumers can now search more quickly and easily for food and other product recalls on FDA’s website. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in January by President Obama, called for a more consumer-friendly recall search engine.

To provide greater ease of use for consumers, the search results provide data from news releases and other recall announcements in the form of a table. (See “before and after” comparison.) The table organizes information from news releases on recalls since 2009 by date, product brand name, product description, reason for the recall and the recalling firm. The table also provides a link to the news release on each recall for more detailed information. The news releases were chosen as the source of information for the table because they provide the most up-to-date and user-friendly information.

The new display of the search results is markedly different from the previous version, which provided links in a scroll-down format. Under FSMA, FDA was required to provide a consumer-friendly recall search engine within 90 days after the law went into effect. Further, for recalls conducted under FSMA, it requires FDA to indicate whether the recall is ongoing or completed. Prior to passage of FSMA, FDA did not have mandatory recall authority for food and feed products other than infant formula.

“It is critically important during a recall for consumers to have the information they need to protect themselves and their families,” says Pamela G. Bailey, Grocery Manufacturers Association president and CEO. “FDA’s new consumer-friendly web search engine for recalls will help give consumers quicker and easier access to that information. The agency should be commended for its work on this important project and for its ongoing commitment to enhancing the strength of our country’s food safety system.”

EPA continues to monitor Japanese situation

In a joint FDA/EPA statement, the US Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps to increase the level of nationwide monitoring of milk, precipitation, drinking water and other potential exposure routes to radiation leaking from the damaged reactors in Japan.

EPA conducts radiological monitoring of milk under its RADNET program, while the FDA has jurisdiction over the safety, labeling and identity (tracking) of milk and milk products in interstate commerce. Each state has jurisdiction over facilities located within its territory.

Results from a screening sample taken March 25 in Spokane, WA detected 0.8 pCi/L of iodine-131, which is more than 5,000 times lower than the derived intervention level set by FDA. These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children. Iodine-131 has a half-life of approximately eight days, and the level detected in milk and milk products is, therefore, expected to drop relatively quickly.

“Radiation is all around us in our daily lives, and these findings are a miniscule amount compared to what people experience every day. For example, a person would be exposed to low levels of radiation on a round-trip cross-country flight, watching television and even from construction materials,” says Patricia Hansen, an FDA senior scientist.

EPA’s recommendation to state and local governments is to continue to coordinate closely with EPA, FDA and CDC.

Prepare now to test and verify imported ingredients, products

US food and beverage processors that import ingredients or products from foreign suppliers will be required to verify these suppliers meet the same criteria as their American counterparts.


Plant of the Year: Shearer's Foods rethinks the food plant

Some additional upfront cost already is paying dividends to this manufacturing organization, with the biggest returns yet to come.   

Reuse's dollars and sense

For food and beverage companies focused on water recycling and landfill reduction, the effort yields solid financial returns.

Tech Update: HMIs

Human machine interface technology has advanced by leaps and bounds-to the point where food manufacturers can now control and monitor plants from virtually anywhere.

Engineering R&D: Research as continuous improvement

More than half a century has passed since Bettcher’s electric trimmer debuted, but engineers continue the pursuit of design improvement.

People, Plant and Industry News

Flowers Foods and Tasty Baking Company announced a definitive merger agreement whereby Flowers will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Tasty common stock for $4.00 per share in cash for a total purchase price of approximately $165 million, including Tasty’s existing indebtedness.


Retired Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Del Monte Foods Richard G. Wolford and Campbell Soup Company President and CEO Douglas R. Conant have been selected to receive the 2011 GMA Hall of Achievement Awards.


The National Center for Food Safety and Technology (NCFST) has become a principal operating center within the newly formed Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).


Graham Packaging Company Inc. signed a definitive merger agreement under which Graham Packaging will be acquired by Silgan Holdings Inc. in a cash-and-stock transaction.


Delta Technology & Software announced that Keith Morrow, a former chief information officer and senior vice president at organizations such as 7-Eleven, CitiGroup and Blockbuster, has joined its Industry Advisory Board (IAB). Delta is the provider of an on-demand management solution that automates and enforces food safety compliance.


Provisur Technologies, Inc., a global provider of high-performance food processing equipment, appointed Tom Van Doorn as its sales manager, Slicing North America.


Loma Systems, an ITW Company, has created a strategic partnership with Dorner Manufacturing of Hartland, WI for the manufacture of conveyors for sanitary applications.


Marfood USA, the North American Headquarters for Marfrig Group, appointed Paul Fox as its managing director. He succeeds Alain Martinet who is returning to Marfrig Group in the company’s São Paulo, Brazil world headquarters.


Mark Staton was named president and CEO of the D&W Fine Pack, a Mid Oaks Investments LLC portfolio company.


Schenck Process acquired Clyde Process Solutions, a supplier of air filtration, pneumatic conveying and injection technologies.

Schneider Electric acquired Lee Technologies, a service provider for the data centers of the North American market.


EnOcean announced that Keith Garris and Christina Jones have joined the company to collaborate with their growing list of building controls and automation OEMs.


Cargill signed an agreement with India-based Marico Ltd. to acquire its refined sunflower oil brand Sweekar.


The Control Systems Integrators Association signed a memorandum of membership with the Automation Federation.