Strategic advice for the food and beverage industry

Australian Avocados and Chobani team up for good-fat pop-up

Posted on:
February 8, 2018
Julian Mellentin

If there is one food that has benefited from the ongoing rehabilitation of fat, it’s the avocado. So much so that industry body Australian Avocados decided to name its pop-up avocado restaurant Good Fat – clearly communicating to consumers that yes, avocados contain significant amounts of fat and yes, there is such a thing as good fat.

In a world where fat still raises a red flag in many consumers’ minds, this is a bold move. However, research indicates that Australians may be ready for such a move, as their awareness of the concept of healthy fats is relatively advanced. In a recent study by NNB, 76% of Australians said they were aware that only some fats were bad for you, while 16% said that fat was not bad for you at all, and only 7% believed all fat was bad.

Riding on a wave of increased consumer acceptance of fat, the Good Fat restaurant opened its doors on the 2nd of November for one month only. The restaurant was a partnership between Australian Avocados and yoghurt brand Chobani, and the aim was to “showcase the deliciousness and versatility of our country’s beloved fruit”. The all-day menu comprised 20 avocado-based dishes, each costing AUD$20 ($16) or less, including avocado ice cream cones, avocado fries and avocado smoothies made with Chobani yoghurt.

And the Sydney-siders loved it! They loved it so much that restaurant had to close for restocking already after its second day in business.

Whether Good Fat’s success would have endured, or whether the novelty would have worn off, we will never know. But permanent avocado restaurants in Amsterdam, New York and Glasgow suggest that consumer demand is there, and that the market for good fat is anything but saturated.

By Mikaela Lindén

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Weed burger is turning fast food into superfood

Posted on:
February 5, 2018
Ann Eshaw

Image courtesy of Dutch Weed Burger

Despite what its name might imply (it’s no doubt an effective marketing technique), the “Dutch Weed Burger” is made from Dutch-grown seaweed – and it has become a hit in the Netherlands, selling in around 200 restaurants for €11-€15.

The burger bun is enriched with chlorella (a microalgae), the patty is made of crispy soyshreds enriched with Dutch Royal Kombu seaweed, and the sauce includes Dutch sea lettuce.

“We do mask the seaweed flavour a bit as it can be overwhelming for newbies!” said Mark Kulsdom, who came up with the idea along with colleague Lisette Kreischer after they made a documentary about seaweed as a future source of protein. “Our burger does carry the flavours from the sea so to speak, vegan seafood is what we like to call it. The benefits are that it is rich in iodine, protein and trace minerals, so a street food snack with healthy ingredients!”

In 2011, Kulsdom and Kreischer interviewed chefs and restaurant owners for the documentary to broaden their knowledge and skills on the use of seaweed – and the process sparked the burger idea.

“We started off as a documentary, can you believe it? We thought [the documentary] was a good idea [as] people started to think about vegan food, but the best way turned out to be by offering them something original, tasty and cool. The first burgers were sold on music festivals and the crowd loved it. It snowballed from there,” Kulsdom told New Nutrition Business.

Promotion was mainly at festivals, theatre shows, and in schools, which created a lot of buzz. They also used social media, drawing a lot of attention from vegan fans. The Dutch Weed Burger saw a 50% growth in revenue in 2017.

The burger is on the menu in the first vegan seaweed fast-food bar in the world, which opened its doors in Amsterdam in June last year. The menu is said to be 100% plant-powered, enriched with seaweed and micro algae. Besides the burger, the menu features Seawharma, Wish ‘n Chips, freshly made Mylkshakes and sWeeds – vegan and handmade sweets like brownies and cheesecake.

By: Ann Eshaw

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Hospital strikes off sugar for staff health

Posted on:
January 19, 2018
Julian Mellentin

A good friend was in hospital recently, for an operation followed by two weeks of recovery. Next to the boredom, and the constant interruptions for tests of various sorts, the worst thing about hospital, she said, was the food. Beige, unappealing and unhealthy, it did nothing for her already waning appetite and she ended up eating only bananas for two weeks.

And it seems it’s not just patients’ meals that are less-than-healthy; a recent report revealed that one in four nurses in the UK’s national health service (NHS) is obese and there are high staff sickness levels. It’s a problem that’s driven one hospital, Tameside in Manchester, to smarten up its food act, with staff vending machines now selling only healthier options and sugar-free drinks.

Tameside has become the first hospital in the UK to cut sugary snacks and sweetened drinks from its restaurant; from this month (January), the only drinks on the menu for staff and visitors will be tea, milk, sugar-free drinks and water. And the Costa coffee shop on site will cut down on promoting sugary food and drink.

Amanda Bromley is the hospital director responsible for staff wellbeing at Tameside. She said: “Obesity related illness is taking an increasing toll on the NHS, as almost half of nurses are over the age of 45. The figures are deeply worrying and long, stressful shifts often made it hard for staff to make healthy choices. I believe by listening to colleagues and being guided by the results of the staff weight loss experiment we are showing that things can change.”

The changes follow the success of a slimming programme laid on by the hospital for 100 or so staff members. The Slimpod programme was commissioned by hospital Trust chief executive Karen James because of her concerns about the health and wellbeing of her team.

“My staff work very hard,” said James. “Long hours and shift patterns often make it very difficult for people to make healthy choices, so they opt for the instant sweet fixes, which until today have been readily available. These are dedicated healthcare professionals who believe they should be role models for their patients but the food environment has been working against them.”

Staff members who followed the Slimpod programme reduced their portion sizes, ate healthier foods and lost weight. The most successful person on the study lost 13.1kg over the 12 weeks, and one who had been chronically diabetic now has the condition under control.

Urgent care nurse Luan Walton, 38, lost 20 pounds in 12 weeks. “I’ve already dropped a dress size and a half,” she said. “I’m wearing a smaller uniform and soon will have to replace it with an even smaller one.”

Cancer nurse Stephanie Ridgeway, 50, said: “My problem was I could be giving advice to my patients about healthy eating with my pockets stuffed with chocolate bars. Now I feel that I’m practising what I preach. I’ve lost 21lbs and I’m a size 10.”

The changes haven’t been met with universal approval – complaints about freedom of choice being taken away have been reported in UK media. Some might also argue that the moves are a distraction from dealing with the real problem of an overstretched health system and highly demanding working conditions. And so far, the moves affect only the restaurant, the coffee shop and the staff vending machines.

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