May 2014 Emerging Trends

This month: USC's burrito vending machine, top 10 dessert trends for 2014 and pizza's brave new world.

Published in FSD Update

USC’s burrito vending machine

Students at the University of Southern California (USC) can now get a burrito from a vending machine. Burritobox, the company that produces the burrito-dispensing machines, contacted the university last year to see if it wanted to be the first college campus with the technology. USC accepted, and the machine went into business in late March.

Kris Klinger, director of USC Hospitality, says the concept was a great fit for the campus. “It’s what students are looking for. It’s convenient, fast, available 24 hours a day, at a good price point and tasty,” he says. The machine is located in Park Side Apartments. Because the dining hall in Park Side closes at 10 p.m., Klinger says the burrito machine will be a good late-night option. Depending on student reaction—the initial response has been “extremely positive,” Klinger says, although a 24-hour free burrito period didn’t hurt—additional machines could be added to campus.

The machines offer five burrito options for $3. Guacamole is available for 75 cents. After students select their burrito, it takes around 60 seconds for the machine to heat it up. 

Pizza’s brave new world

Domino’s might not be the only pizza specialist cancelling its 30-minutes-or-less delivery promise. The US Army Natick Soldier Research, Develop-ment and Engineering Center is close to developing a shelf-stable pizza that would be good for up to three years. Pizza is one of the most requested ready-to-eat meals from soldiers, according to Michelle Richardson, food scientist at Natick. After years of tweaking the sauce, cheese and dough to prevent moisture from seeping into the bread and creating bacteria, the center says it has the right combination. Now, it’s working to perfect the taste. “It pretty much tastes just like a typical pan pizza that you make at home and take out of the oven or the toaster oven,” Jill Bates, who runs the taste lab at Natick, told the New York Post. The only catch? The pie would be served at room temperature. That shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance for another audience that might be eager to try out the product: college students.  

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

Menu Development
eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there.

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones...

Industry News & Opinion

Labeling foods with indulgent buzzwords such as “sweet sizzlin’” and “crispy” can lead consumers to make healthier food choices , according to a recent study out of Stanford University .

In the fall 2016 study, researchers labeled vegetables in one of the school’s dining halls using terms from four categories: basic, healthy restrictive, healthy positive or indulgent.

The green beans, for example, were listed as “green beans” for basic, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots” for healthy restrictive, “healthy energy boosting green beans and shallots” for healthy...

Ideas and Innovation
sparkling water

Our carbonated soft drink sales at Earls.67 reflect a national trend; we’re continually down on carbonated soft drink sales by 8% to 9% on an annual basis,” says Cameron Bogue, beverage director at the contemporary-casual chain Earls Kitchen + Bar.

The issue with spa water

Many operators are intrigued with the offering, but they are learning that infused water can’t be offered at a cost to guests unless there is added value beyond cut-up fruit. Bogue says, “I was adamant that I didn’t want to charge for spa water.”

Agua fresca alternatives

At the original location of

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