Categories
Fast Food

To Survive, Some Subway Restaurants Are Selling Their Ingredients Like Groceries

With everyone confined to their homes during this pandemic, folks are trying to stock up on as much groceries as they can in order to avoid going outdoors while the threat of COVID-19 looms. Many restaurants have taken to transitioning into a corner store model, where they’re selling their excess inventory to members of the community in need of groceries.

Sandwich chain Subway is now offering a similar model in Orange County locations they’re calling Subway Grocery.

In an effort to help support Subway employees and give back to the local communities, Subway is tapping into their supplier connections and offering up a service where customers can directly order the meats, breads, cheeses, and produce used to craft sandwiches. The service also includes frozen soups, meat and cheese party platters, and cookies.

While originally a Subway in Long Beach, CA was one of the first to offer this service, many new locations throughout Orange County and Los Angeles have begun participating in Subway Grocery.

Yes, the question could be posed: Does anyone really want Subway produce? Just thinking of all those locations we’ve visited with oxidized avocados and slightly browned lettuce does make us hesitate for a hot second. However, with ingredients coming directly from a restaurant grade food supplier, the lackadaisical care from some locations is simply forgone. Should be a pretty safe bet if you want some fresh groceries without having to go to the supermarket chains.

Those looking to order from Subway’s Grocery service can place their order through the nearest participating location here. Pick up options include a contactless curbside pick up, restaurant pick up, or delivery to select areas.

Categories
Health News Packaged Food

LA Mayor Says ‘There’s No Major Shortage Of Food’ As Major Markets Seek Workers

Photo Courtesy of Ralphs

As more and more folks are staying at home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, restaurants and public businesses have been temporarily shutting down to help prevent the spread.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made an announcement this morning to help calm the masses who are desperate to stock their households with supplies in the trying weeks to come.

“Supply chains are completely uninterrupted, and there’s no shortage of food,” Garcetti said as he stood in a Ralph’s Distribution Center in Paramount, CA. With him were executives from major grocery chains such as Food4Less, Ralph’s, Northgate, and Gelson’s.

Stores are short on popular items during this pandemic because of people purchasing more than they need, and as a result, employees are unable to restock from the suppliers in a timely manner. During the livestream the mayor encouraged consideration for others, especially the elderly, when out shopping for supplies.

Kendra Doyel, Vice president of merchandising for Ralph’s, stated that both Ralphs and Food4Less are actually hiring during these trying times to help keep the shelves stocked at a more manageable rate. Those who need to look for work in the Los Angeles area as more business close down because of the virus may consider employment at these major grocery chains during this time of concern over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Categories
News

Joe Coulombe, Founder of Trader Joe’s, Passes Away at 89

Joe Coulombe, founder of Trader Joe’s, the revolutionary grocery store that focused on high quality items at low prices, has passed away at the age of 89, according to the Associated Press.

Joe’s curiosity, philanthropic generosity, and irreverent sense of humor were woven into the fabric of the culture that defines Trader Joe’s stores.the company said in a statement over the weekend. 

Known for its Hawaiian shirt-wearing employees, fair wages, and a focus on serving “overeducated and underpaid people,” the store amassed a cult following soon after its original Pasadena, CA location opened in 1967.

Five years after its opening, Joe introduced a granola to the store that he considered to be a “game-changer,” in that it was the first time the company had acquired a product at the wholesale level and sold under the Trader Joe’s brand name. 

The snack was a preview of the business model that would propel the store to its current popularity. This, along with a policy of discontinuity that insisted on only buying prime items at a good deal, no matter if that meant switching suppliers, allowed the store to maintain its low prices and continue attracting the struggling conscious consumer whom Coulombe originally envisioned the store to serve.

While Coulombe sold his interest in the company to Aldi Nord in 1979 — when there were only 19 stores — his vision and mission still lives on in each and every one of the 500+ locations across the nation.

For that, pour a two buck Chuck out for Mr. Coulombe today.

Categories
Packaged Food

Costco Is Selling Some of The World’s Most Expensive Ham For A Fraction Of Market Price

Image courtesy of Costco Wholesale

Iberico Ham is one of the most expensive meats you can purchase. Boasting a rich flavor and velvety texture, you can find a single leg of the decadent meat costing more than a $1,000 depending on where you buy it.

Is it worth it for the flavor? Absolutely. Albeit the price can be a little steep, especially if you’re trying to budget for the holidays. Those of you with a Costco card, however, are primed to save more than a pretty penny.

Costco is selling said meat for only a fraction of the price that it would typically cost in Spain.

Image courtesy of Constantine Spyrou

Produced in the Valle de los Pedroches, a region in Southern Spain, the ham is from Iberico Breed pigs that are fed a vegetarian diet of acorn and grass and raised free-range — all prime conditions when raising livestock.

At $560, the whole leg is about 40 percent less than what you would find sold directly from Spain or other online retailers. Cuts of the same leg have ranged from upward of $800 to even $1,000 depending on where you decide to purchase it.

For more context, Foodbeast writer Constantine Spyrou was in Spain earlier this year and found whole legs of Jamon Iberico de Bellota for sale at about 969 Euros per leg. In US dollars, that translates to about $1,067.

Costco’s leg coming out to approximately 51% of that price.

Image courtesy of Constantine Spyrou

Another leg the lauded world traveler found cost 850 Euros, $935 USD, making it 58% of that price. Even Amazon sells it for about $100 more than Costco.

You can find the leg of Jamon Iberico de Bellota both online and at Costco locations nationwide.

Categories
Grocery Packaged Food What's New

This Startup’s Spin On Uncrustables Packs Them With Savory Fillings

Uncrustables have been a lunchbox staple for decades now. The pocket of bread dough, crammed with peanut butter and jelly, has become one of those favorites that you can find at everywhere from schools to county fairs. It’s simple, nostalgic, and crave-able all at once.

Despite the success the Uncrustables has had, you’ve never really seen another version similar to it with other fillings before. That’s all changed in the past year, thanks to a new frozen food startup that’s doing their own savory take on the crustless stuffed sandwich.

Called Jafflz, the product line comes from the mind of Chef Meryl van der Merwe. Her take on the round sandwich-toaster pastry hybrid comes packed with savory fillings like Sloppy Joe, Enchilada, or even Mac & Cheese. They’re based on jaffles, which is a common phrase in Australia or van der Merwe’s native South Africa for toasted sandwiches.

Each sandwich is pretty hefty, and like an Uncrustables, is enough for a meal or large snack. They also come with a heating sleeve inside each package, similar to how Hot Pockets and similar brands have one to ensure the outer bread stays crispy.

The key difference here between Jafflz and Uncrustables is that you’re getting savory aromas and tastes from what’s inside, making it ideal for those who want to relive the nostalgia of Uncrustables, but perhaps want something a little bit less on the sweet side.

Jafflz can currently be found in the freezer aisles of nearly 500 stores nationwide, many of them under the Kroger name (ie. Ralphs, Smith’s, and Fry’s). They’ll be heading to more grocers in the coming year.

Categories
Grocery Opinion Packaged Food

Frozen Food Is Shedding Its Reputation With Chef-Driven, Healthier Meals

“Frozen food is on fire.”

Photo: Mikey’s Pizza Pockets

These words from Sam Rockwell, CEO of frozen food brands Happi Foodi and WaffleWaffle, couldn’t be more true right now. While the freezer aisle of grocery stores has had a reputation of being processed and unhealthy, that image has slowly melted away. The numbers back it up, too: Data from Nielsen reveals that in 2018, dollar sales in the frozen foods industry jumped up 2.2%. That’s some of the best growth the industry has seen in the past five years. What is it, though, that’s causing consumers to come back to frozen food?

A lot of varying factors are at play here, but one of the big-picture keys appears to be that retailers are turning to frozen for growth. Companies like Amazon are dominating the food and fresh delivery space, but sending frozen food via mail in a similar fashion is still a struggle. Retailers like Walmart benefit from this, and are able to be that hub for consumers who are looking for different frozen foods.

To capitalize on that effect, though, big retailers have to ensure that their products are on trend. While larger food companies can take 3-5 years to innovate, according to Rockwell, a smaller firm can do the same thing in a fraction of the time. As a result, a lot of younger startups, including brands like Happi Foodi, are finding an increasing demand for their products on a national scale.

Photo courtesy of Happi Foodi

Happi Foodi has found success in its chef-driven meals and snacks that are best described as “frozen gourmet.” Items like Cuban Style Egg Rolls, Tequila Lime Chicken, and Whiskey Sauce Meatballs appeal to customers who see it as a way to break past the entry barriers they perceive exist to becoming a foodie. Many “foodie destinations,” places like Los Angeles, Chicago or New York City, seem far away to the rest of the country, and the fantastical foods that pop up on Instagram from there are dishes many can only dream of tasting. Frozen food helps makes those dreams reality because of the ease of storage, natural preservation of flavors, and ability to access from just about anywhere.

The frozen food industry can now take on this “foodie” appeal because brands like Happi Foodi are backed by chefs who have moved into the food industry. These chefs, or “culinologists,” as some call themselves, are changing how the industry thinks about everything from flavor to texture in our foods. The quality of frozen protein and the consistency, and taste of sauces has improved drastically as a result, rebuilding trust in the frozen food brands that deliver on all of these senses.

Recapturing public sentiment in the frozen food aisle has allowed the industry become creative and diverse. Everything from plant-based frozen dinners to microwavable burritos that swap out the cheap eggs and cheese for sweet potatoes and Forbidden Rice can now be found in that part of the grocery store. As we all crave and desire more ethnic flavors, especially those we aren’t as familiar with, frozen food producers are making those accessible to us.

Photo courtesy of Swapples

Freezing food, especially at the below-zero temperatures the industry uses, allows you to capture the freshness of that moment right after a chef plates their crafted meal and keep the dish there for a period of months. That long shelf life allows you to make higher quality meals that last longer, as well as tailor them to any lifestyle, whether it be Whole 30, Paleo, or allergen-free.

This is where companies like Swapples do best. A frozen yuca waffle maker, Swapples cuts almost entirely all sugar out of its batter while adhering to a plant-based and allergen-friendly diet. Founded in 2016, co-founder Rebecca Peress has seen her brand explode across the United States, and the health and better-for-you aspects of her waffles play a huge role in that.

“There’s way more to choose from now in the frozen section than there was 10,15 years ago,” Peress said. “You can find a natural version of almost everything. I think that’s where we’re at now. I think the next phase, which is where [Swapples] already is, is taking a look at the ingredients.”

Peress is talking about the clean label trend that has taken over the processed foods industry. Companies and fast food brands today are looking to remove preservatives, colors, and flavors out of food to meet consumer demands. Frozen food can do it a lot quicker and easier because their key preservative is temperature, rather than an ingredient like sugar or salt. It means that reformulation of healthier foods, is a lot simpler to pull off. That’s why you see everything from paleo pizza pockets to ice cream that helps you sleep better at night sweeping across stores nationwide.

Photo courtesy of Happi Foodi

Another key reason why frozen food is performing is the nostalgia factor. We all grew up on Eggo Waffles, frozen sausages, Hungry-Man dinners, and other products we could pick up quickly in the freezer aisle. In an era where everything has gone gourmet, there’s often a longing for the tried and true classics. Of course, the health awareness around these today has changed drastically, so we know to look for that taste of our youth balanced with the nutritional needs we’re looking for. Thus, we’re not just demanding that the food industry giants satisfy those needs — we’re creating the companies that meet them as well, whether it be Swapples, Happi Foodi or someone else in between.

Frozen food, in turn, has now become something that satisfies all of the trends we’re searching and makes them more accessible to everyone. As companies continue to innovate and grow, they’re bringing more nutritious, more creative, and more clean-label alternatives to the freezer aisle. That has drastically changed the industry for the better, allowing it to shed its reputation of heavily processed products that are bad for you. With all of that change and resulting demand, we’ll all be adding more and more frozen foods to our shopping bags as the category continues to skyrocket.

Categories
Grocery Hit-Or-Miss News Packaged Food

Why Costco’s ‘Kirkland Signature’ Controls the Generic Brand Market

Costco has become a household name across the US. People have often seen my home and said, “Oh, so you’re a Costco family”. It’s true, we are, and it’s because Costco cannot be beat on almost any level. Here at Foodbeast we have often rejoiced at Costco’s ability to fulfill our mac n’ cheese dreams, and provide us with the finer things in life.

Photo: Signs.com

The question is, what exactly makes Costco such a powerful force in the market? Surely the average person doesn’t need 12 cans of tomato paste or 390 servings of emergency foods (at least, we hope not), but there’s more to Costco than that. They cleverly created their own line of competitive products at lower prices and higher quality, pressuring other brands to keep up, or fall under the competition.

We’re talking about the ever present Kirkland brand.

Kirkland products are sold at Costco for 20% less than national brands on average.

For example, CNN reported that in 2018, Costco dropped its price of 40-pack half liter Kirkland water bottles to $2.99, forcing brands like Polar-Springs to adjust and keep up. “Kirkland acts as a universal club marshal. It keeps suppliers honest,” Timothy Campbell, analyst at Kantar Retail said in the report.

Photo: Signs.com

Generic brands are popular customer choices when it comes to medication and milk, according to data from Signs.com. However, Kirkland Signature products are unique in the way that “the Costco consumer is very loyal to the KS brand. They will always give the item a shot” stated Costco’s wine, spirits, and beer buyer Annette Alvarez-Peters in Wine Spectator’s article.

Of course, Costco doesn’t get every generic product right, as evidenced by their light beer flop. However, Costco is very aware of this and takes it seriously. They understand that loss of customer confidence means loss of sales and keep their products at a high standard. Despite warnings to investors that their profit margin depends on customer loyalty, there’s no loss in confidence.

Kirkland Signature brands are constantly being improved, year after year. Costco Connection detailed the process for selecting the best of the best and emphasizes that KS brands are constantly reevaluated and upgraded to maintain their reputation. This goes for everything from their fitted sheets to their baby wipes. Costco buyers never get too comfortable.

Speaking of their high standards, it is a not so well known fact that many of Kirkland brand products are manufactured by national brands, with the demand that those brands hold Costco products to a different standard. For example, Bumble Bee Foods supplies Kirkland’s canned tuna, but they are required to make sure that the tuna is far more substantial than flaky. In doing so, Costco spent a year overseeing the Bumble Bee Foods plant in Puerto Rico.

At the moment, Costco’s canned albacore tuna is sold at $16.99 for eight tins, weighing 7 oz each. Conversely, Bumble Bee tuna is sold at Staples for $37.69 for 12 tins weighing 5 oz each.

To break it down: Costco sells only 4 oz of less fish for less than half the price. Bumble Bee supplies its own competition with a better product, for cheaper.

Costco is the biggest alcohol retailer in the US, with Kirkland Signature Wines notable enough to stand alone as their wine is sourced from name-brand wineries. Some of these include Kunde Estate, Girard Winery, and Champagne Jansson & Fils. Because Costco offers big money contracts, and a guaranteed buy of thousands of bottles these wineries are enticed to sell their fruit to produce Kirkland wine at a lower price than they would sell their own bottles.

Costco is the number No. 1 choice for consumers in the US, and it’s no surprise. Their business model is striving and I will happily continue to buy too much peanut butter and enjoy a hot dog on the way out.

Categories
Design Grocery Hacks Kitchen Gadgets News Products Technology What's New

New Smart Tupperware Alerts You When Food Has Gone Bad

Photo: Smarterware

Life sometimes feels like an endless loop of grocery shopping, stocking up the fridge with the best intentions, but still feeling like there’s nothing to eat. I see the food, I recognize the food, and yet it sits there daunting and questionable. When did I buy that? Is it even good? You take a whiff, but doubt how much you can trust your nose. Plus, depending how organized you keep your fridge, food is hidden behind other food and some of it is in jars or Tupperware you’re afraid to open and quite frankly, it’s all a little bit terrifying.

It always seemed like one of those problems with no real answer. In our modern day we’re beginning to have smart-everything and now here comes the next thing we didn’t know we needed — Smarterware!

Smarterware works using a system of “SmartTags” that can be linked to Alexa. The idea is that you get back from the grocery store and grab your smart tag, say “Alexa this is a bell pepper” and it will light up green. The smart tag changes from green to yellow to red as the days pass pulling the data on the life span of food from their database (which they are updating regularly). When the food is reaching its final days you’ll receive a notification on your phone along with recipe recommendations using what you have in your fridge. No more helplessly wondering what to do with what you got, Smarterware will help you out.

For those who don’t have access to Alexa, fear not, using these does not require its assistance, as you have the option to input what food you have right through the app. Also, as their database grows, they’re not going to have everything just yet, but you can easily add any obscure food item and its lifespan.

If you’re clueless like me it will default to three days. Not only that, but you can customize your preference for food freshness in case you think certain foods just shouldn’t last that long.

By the way, this isn’t just for grocery fresh food, SmartTags are designed to stick on your Chinese takeout box, too. Ovie’s goal is to utilize what you have in a smarter way to prevent food waste in the home and eventually make a difference on a larger scale. Co-founder and head of brand for Ovie, Stacie Thompson, stated that, “Most Americans don’t know what they’re having for dinner at 4pm, but we think dinner is already in your fridge. So we want to help you find it!”

Smarterware is designed to accommodate everything in your fridge. The SmartTags can be used in a clip, on a Smarterware container, or with a small connecter that can stick to anything. There are kits available for pre-order online at ovie.life ranging from $130-$300 depending how many you need with an option to build your own kit if you’d like. Pre-orders are expected to ship in March this year.