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A Look At The Menu Innovation Driving KFC Global’s Sales Momentum

About 300 of KFC’s top marketers from around the world will descend upon the company’s global headquarters in Dallas this week to share best practices, industry trends and menu ideas. It’s at this Marketing Planning Meeting—which has been held since 2006—where much of the brand’s menu magic happens.

If you’re not fully familiar with what that “magic” entails, consider KFC product launches from around the world: KFC Thailand’s shrimp doughnuts, Singapore’s egg tarts, Australia’s nacho box, the Double Down Dog (a hot dog wrapped in a bun-sized piece of fried chicken) the Mac ‘n Cheese Zinger (with a bun made of mac ‘n cheese) and, of course, the original Zinger Chicken Sandwich, which originated in Trinidad and Tobago in 1984 and finally came to the U.S. in 2017. (Australia sells more than 22 million Zingers each year.)

The company’s massive scale of 22,000-plus restaurants in more than 135 countries certainly hasn’t slowed down its innovation wheel. In fact, KFC just launched a chicken tender taco in France, debuted green chili crunch chicken in Malaysia and added “Chizza” (pizza with a fried chicken crust) to the menu in the Philippines. In Canada, the chain unveiled Chachos earlier this year, a take on nachos but with KFC’s chicken tenders instead of tortilla chips.

The scope of menu creativity is impressive and the approach has been quite successful. KFC Indonesia rolled out chicken skin fries earlier this summer, for example, and the product sold out on day one. The company’s vegan Imposter Burger, launched in June in the U.K., sold out in just four days.

KFC is able to set this pace because it has 18 food innovation teams throughout the world filled with culinarians with big imaginations. Simultaneously, the company stringently adheres to its brand standards (the very 11 herbs and spices that put the chain on the map), thanks to a four-person Food Innovation Team based out of its Dallas headquarters.

I recently had the opportunity to spend the day with this team to see firsthand how some of these ideas are brought to life in the KFC Global kitchen. What I witnessed was a group of food enthusiasts with deep global experiences and a deeper appreciation for the work they’re doing.

The team is led by Ana Maria Basurto, a Mexico City native who joined the team in 2015 and is tasked with “guarding” the KFC brand standards while expanding its culinary portfolio.

Jacinta Pounsett is the senior scientist for FIT, working with KFC’s markets to develop a nutrition strategy and identify opportunities for innovation. She started her career with KFC Australia.

Gaana Nagaraj, a food innovation technologist, heads up poultry innovation and development and also leads seasoning and marinade developments. She moved to the U.S. from India, where she was born and raised.

The fourth member of the team is Robert Merrill, associate manager who supports the alignment of the chain’s signature recipes and provides protocols for standard products. He received a master’s degree in food science and technology from Texas A&M.

That this particular team includes four people from diverse international backgrounds is notable.

“A major challenge happening now in the restaurant space is to stay relevant as global demographics shift,” said James Fripp, Yum Brands’ chief diversity and inclusion officer. “If this team can’t work with multiple cultures from around the world, what we’re doing is not going to work.”

Indeed, the way KFC approaches innovation is not centralized. The cuisines are different, as are the cultures and preferences.

“We leverage that expertise around the world and serve as a guardrail for the 18 units. We want them to take our food and make it their own, adapted for their flavors,” Pounsett said.

Asian consumers, for example, prefer hot and spicy flavors, while the brand’s extra tasty crispy recipe performs well in Latin America and Mexico.

“We spend time working on how to elevate our 11 herbs and spices for each market. Our strength as a global company is leveraging food innovation and marketing teams around the world to have a better understanding of what consumers prefer,” Basurto said.

Challenges exist, such as how to fulfill volume demands at such a large scale and how to roll out exciting new products that meet both brand and operational standards. Many of these kinks are ironed during the MPM event.

But much of the time spent at that event this week will be on the exchange of new and big ideas on how to keep KFC’s menu exciting in markets all over the world.

“We get to taste products that have been the most successful in different markets. We want to foster that pride within our community so people are willing to learn what other markets are doing and then adopt it,” Basurto said.

KFC’s Chizza is a great example of a successful product launched in a market, originating in the Philippines, and adopted elsewhere. The menu item is now available in more than 15 countries across Europe, Asia and Latin America, specifically in Germany, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Korea, Thailand and India.

Considering the brand’s momentum of late, expect these types of market-to-market translations to continue at a staggering pace, especially as consumers are becoming more adventurous with their palates.

During Q1, Yum Brands’ KFC division delivered system sales growth of 9%. CEO Greg Creed specifically credited creative products for the performance.

“The innovation that’s happening is (driving KFC’s momentum),” Creed said during the earnings call. “We’re seeing a lot of great innovation, flavor innovation, on existing forms and new form innovation also occurring.”

I have covered the restaurant industry since 2010 when I was named editor of QSRweb. I later added fast casual and pizza beats to my portfolio as editorial director of foodservice media. This coverage spanned the gamut of topics that make up the foodservice space, from marketing and customer service, to the supply chain and display technology. My work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Crain’s Chicago, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. I continue to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb, Food Dive, Innovation Leader and the Digital Signage Federation.

Source: A Look At The Menu Innovation Driving KFC Global’s Sales Momentum

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How to make crispy tofu perfectly every time | Well+Good

I like my tofu extra crispy. Unfortunately getting it to that point often means keeping a watchful eye on a frying pan. (Nobody likes burnt tofu.) But the trick to perfectly crispy tofu is as simple as popping it in the freezer first.

When tofu freezes, the water within it expands, creating pockets of air. As you cook it and the water evaporates, these air bubbles give tofu a chewier, meatier texture while enabling it to soak up flavor from a marinade or sauce.

Follow these easy instructions for the best way to ensure crispy tofu every time you cook it (with five delicious recipes you’ll want to use again and again) because nothing hits the spot more than tofu at its crispiest.

How to freeze tofu

  1. Drain your extra-firm tofu and remove it from the packaging. Pat it dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel.
  2. Cut the tofu into cubes or slices—whatever size you need for your meal. Then, place the pieces in a container and store them in the freezer. You can also put the entire block in the freezer as-is, but it takes longer to cook.
  3. For best results, leave your tofu in the freezer for 12 to 24 hours. If you’re short on time, you’ll still get decent results with 3 to 6 hours.

How to cook with frozen tofu

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and submerge the frozen tofu. Bring it back to a boil.
  2. If you’re working with smaller pieces, remove them from the water after 6 to 7 minutes. If you’re working with an entire block of tofu, cook for 7 minutes, flip it over in the water, then cook for another 7 minutes.
  3. After draining the water, set the tofu on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel on a flat surface to help soak up any excess water as it cools. If it’s still in a block, cut the tofu into cubes or slices after it cools.
  4. Bring a skillet to medium heat. Lightly spray the skillet with olive or avocado oil, then cook the tofu pieces for a few minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove from the heat once the pieces are crispy to your liking.

How to use crispy tofu

Now that you have a new batch of crispy tofu, there are many different ways to enjoy it throughout the week. Whether it’s slathered in fun sauces or on kebabs, these are the tastiest recipes to start with. And the best part? The tofu prep is already done.

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Photo: Simple Vegan Blog

1. General Tso’s crispy tofu

For a healthier version of your favorite takeout, use this General Tso’s sauce that’s the perfect mix of sweet and spicy.

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Photo: Emilie Eats

2. BBQ tofu vegetable kebabs

Tofu makes for a seamless meat replacement in kebabs, especially when slathered in homemade BBQ sauce.

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Photo: Minimalist Baker

3. Almond butter crispy tofu stir-fry

Nothing improves a stir-fry like crispy tofu. This almond butter-based sauce will make you want to eat up all your veggies.

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Photo: I Love Vegan

4. Crispy chick’n Caesar salad

The Caesar salad gets a plant-based twist in this combo that features crispy tofu and a creamy vegan dressing made from cashews.

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Photo: Killing Thyme

5. Crispy buffalo tofu bites with garlicky yogurt dip

This meal will only take a few minutes to make since your crispy tofu is ready to go. The buffalo-style sauce goes great with the garlicky dip made from dairy-free yogurt.

Still hungry? You might want to grab some cucumbers, which—if you didn’t know—might just be a better salad base than kale. You can also try out these keto-approved recipes in your Instant Pot.

Source: How to make crispy tofu perfectly every time | Well+Good

Booze-infused pudding is the adult Jell-O shots we didn’t know we needed

 

(MORE: This ice cream shop satisfies our inner child’s fantasy)

The inspiration for these creamy spoonfuls of gelatinous booze came from founder Kelli Lipson’s college love of classic Jell-O shots, she told “GMA.”

“I was in college and I used to make Jello shots, and everyone really loved them, so the idea kind of always stayed with me,” Lipson said.

Lipson said she combined her heart for Jello shots with her love of cooking to create her original line of booze-infused pudding and Jello recipes that are sure to be a hit at any adult party.

“I went to go work for Food Network star Sandra Lee and from there I kind of just built on the idea ad I wanted to create something that adults could really enjoy and that was a treat made for them,” she said.

(MORE: Boozy ice cream cocktails and sundaes that will up your dessert game all summer)

The best part is the flavors — from Spike Cake to Nutella Latte to Cranberry Cosmo — there’s definitely something for everyone. Each shot contains 5% alcohol.

They also come in specially packaged, ridiculously Instagrammable mini jars, which is why you may have seen them popping up on your feed.

“We’ve done a lot of collaborations with different influencers,” Lipson said.

 

Source: Booze-infused pudding is the adult Jell-O shots we didn’t know we needed

Thailand Supermarket Ditches Plastic Packaging For Banana Leaves

Banana leaves used for packaging at a Thai supermarket

A Thailand supermarket came up with a genius way to reduce plastic packaging: wrap its produce in banana leaves instead.

The banana leaf packaging comes from the Rimping supermarket in Chiangmai, Thailand. A real estate company in Chiang Mai, Perfect Homes, posted photos of the banana leaf packaging to their Facebook page and it quickly gained widespread attention.

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Perfect Homes Chiangmai

Of the 9 billion tonnes of plastic ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. This, along with projections of rapidly increased plastic manufacturing, has led to global attention to single-use plastics.

The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that by 2050 there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic in landfills, the environment, and oceans. Of this waste, cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, food wrappers, and plastic grocery bags are the biggest contributors.

Global plastic waste generation from 1950 to 2015.

Global plastic waste generation from 1950 to 2015.

United Nations Environment Programme

The use of banana leaves instead of plastic for packaging vegetables is a great way to reduce single-use plastic. While it looks like they use some plastic for adhering the label, this method significantly reduces the amount of plastic required. They are simply wrapped in a banana leaf and secured using a flexible piece of bamboo. Banana leaves are a great alternative to plastic as the leaf is large, thick and supple enough to be folded.

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Perfect Homes Chiangmai

One thing to consider is the relative cost of plastic versus banana leaves. In tropical locations, banana leaves are readily available locally and could be acquired for free depending on the quantity needed. In more temperate locations the use of banana leaves could be significantly more expensive than plastic. However, using local biodegradable products could be a good alternative in locations where bananas don’t grow.

The use of banana leaves to wrap food in has a long history. In some tropical regions of Mexico, tamales are wrapped in banana leaves. Hawaiians use banana leaves during pig roasts to protect the pig from the hot lava rocks. They are also used to wrap sticky rice in southeast Asia.

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Perfect Homes Chiangmai

Trevor Nace is a PhD geologist, founder of Science Trends, Forbes contributor, and explorer. Follow his journey @trevornace.

I am a geologist passionate about sharing Earth’s intricacies with you. I received my PhD from Duke University where I studied the geology and climate of the Amazon. I a…

Source: Thailand Supermarket Ditches Plastic Packaging For Banana Leaves

Top 10 Industry Secrets That Make You Buy More Food – Be Amazed

Be Amazed at these top 10 sneaky industry secrets that make you buy more food! Endorsement secrets – We all know that for years, food companies have paid celebrities to endorse their products. Think Justin Timberlake and McDonald’s, or Snoop Dogg and Hot Pockets. Fast food secrets – When it comes to using ingenious tricks to get you to buy more food, the fast food industry are the absolute masters.

They stop at nothing to make sure we’re always filling our faces with burgers, fries and nuggets. It’s a fact that sugar is addictive. Processing secrets – It’s not just sugar that’s addictive. There are all kinds of mysterious substances that we can get addicted to, and you can bet the food industry make sure our food is loaded with as much of them as possible. Restaurant secrets –

You probably think I’m being a bit harsh on the fast food industry here. Let me redress the balance. The guys at the other end of the spectrum, high-end restaurants, play tricks on us too. Why do you think they restaurants play classical music over the speakers? Research by the University of Leicester showed that classical music increases the amount of money people spend by more than 10%, compared to when there’s no music. Political secrets –

If they wanted to, governments could shut down a lot of the food industry’s murky practices. To stop that happening, big food companies spend a lot of money and effort playing politics. Health secrets – In today’s health-conscious times, food brands want you to think they’re good for you, so you’ll buy more of them. Unfortunately, when a food screams at you from the packet about how healthy it is, it isn’t always the case. Use-by date secrets

You’re hungry, but when you open the fridge, all that greets you are some random foodstuffs, and they look like they’ve been there a while. Colour secrets – Call me old-fashioned, but I like my food to be the right colour, and I’m not alone. Supermarket secrets – As much as the food industry likes to play with our food, its advertising and packaging to make sure we buy it, your supermarket is doing its best to manipulate you too. Brain manipulation secrets –

The food industry employs psychologists to work out how they can subliminally influence our minds, so we buy more product. Researchers in Belgium figured out that humans are drawn to glossy objects, because shiny and glossy surfaces make us think of water and our brains remind us that we need it to survive. As a result, soda companies make their bottles and cans glossy, with bubbles and dewy drips all over them.

 

 

 

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America Is Drowning in Milk Nobody Wants – Deena Shanker & Lydia Mulvany

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A decade ago, Greek yogurt was ascendant in America. In New York state, the hope among farmers and politicians was that their fortunes would benefit as well. In 2005, Hamdi Ulukaya spent less than $1 million buying an old Kraft yogurt processing plant in New Berlin, 150 miles northwest of New York City. Within two years, the native of Turkey was already a success. His yogurt brand, Chobani, was in supermarket refrigerators everywhere, pushing aside older, big-name brands while making Greek yogurt a staple of the American diet. Rich but also healthy, it made its way into recipes for everything from smoothies to muffins and even popsicles.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-17/america-is-drowning-in-milk-nobody-wants

 

 

 

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