Plant protein Impossible Foods inks a deal with Burger King?!?!?!

Earlier this week we posted a Signal that highlighted the change underway at the deli counter in the grocery store as part of our Clean Living investing theme. We are seeing another company respond to the changing landscape that is the shift to better for you, healthier foods as Burger King, which is owned by Restaurant Brands International, is testing a plant-based protein meat alternative with Impossible Foods.

Burger King isn’t the first fast food restaurant to adapt part of its menu to this tailwind, and odds are it won’t be the last, but it is the first (at least that we know of) that is bringing this degree of fast food scale to Impossible Foods. While there may not be a match between Impossible and Restaurant Brands’ Popeyes and Tim Hortons, we’ll be looking to see if Impossible and Burger King look to move beyond just the Impossible Whopper to other products. We’ll also be looking to see how McDonald’s, Wendy’s and others respond. Will they look to further the influence of our Clean Living investing theme on their menus, or will they instead embrace the sinful pleasure of burgers, fries and shakes that fall into our Guilty Pleasures investing theme?

The Impossible Whopper is supposed to taste just like Burger King’s regular Whopper. Unlike veggie burgers, Impossible burger patties are designed to mimic the look and texture of meat when cooked. The plant protein startup recently revealed a new recipe, designed to look and taste even more like meat. That version is being used in Burger King’s Impossible Whoppers.

Other fast food and fast casual items are also appealing to eaters with dietary restrictions or preferences. Taco Bell said in January that it’s testing out a vegetarian menu board in stores, and Chipotle (CMG) recently expanded its line of diet-based bowls to include vegan and vegetarian options. “Lifestyle bowls” launched earlier this year with Whole30 and double protein meals in addition to the keto and paleo bowls.

Impossible products are served at nearly 6,000 US restaurants right now, but the Burger King partnership is a “milestone” for the company, said Impossible Foods COO and CFO David Lee.

Source: Burger King is testing out the Impossible burger – CNN

Tematica Investing: Thematic Tailwinds for 2019 and Scaling into AXON

Tematica Investing: Thematic Tailwinds for 2019 and Scaling into AXON

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Tematica Options+: A Thematic Look at 2019 and a New Option Trade

Tematica Options+: A Thematic Look at 2019 and a New Option Trade

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McDonald’s is the latest to address antibiotics usage in its beef

McDonald’s is the latest to address antibiotics usage in its beef

In the vein of better late than never, McDonald’s has announced it will join the ranks of KFC, Pizza Hut, Boston Market, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Subway and Panera in moving toward only using antibiotic-free meat at its restaurants. McDonald’s has already made this move with chicken and is targeting the same for 85% of its beef supply chain in the next few years. This doubling down is clearly part of McDonald’s move to appeal to consumers that are embracing aspects of our Clean Living investing theme, which will have reverberations across the supply chain that feed its 37,000 global locations.

McDonald’s said Tuesday that it planned to reduce the usage of antibiotics across 85 percent of its beef supply chain in the coming years, in a move designed to help curb the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.

The burger chain said it will begin working with its top beef sources to analyze and measure the current state of antibiotics usage and by 2020 would set antibiotics-usage reduction targets. Starting in 2022, McDonald’s will begin reporting its progress on the systematic reduction of antibiotics in the food it serves.

The chain has previously addressed antibiotic usage in its menu items. In 2016 in announced that it had removed antibiotics important for human medicine in chicken products in the U.S. and later expanded its efforts with stricter guidelines for its global suppliers.

McDonald’s is not the only company to introduce antibiotics usage policies in recent years. Other quick-service chains working to address this public health issue include KFC, Pizza Hut, Boston Market, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, which all have made moves toward only using antibiotic-free chicken in recent years. Subway has also joined such “clean” food-focused restaurant chains as Panera and Chipotle in working to eliminate antibiotics from its supply chain entirely by 2025. In 2016, In-N-Out Burger announced a phase-out of beef raised with antibiotics.

Source: McDonald’s to reduce antibiotics usage in beef

Panera highlights its focus on Cleaner food and drinks

Panera highlights its focus on Cleaner food and drinks

We are seeing more restaurant companies highlight their ingredient choices in the food and drinks they serve in their marketing campaigns. These companies are looking to build consumer awareness as they look to the growing portion of the population that are opting for foods, drinks, and snacks that are better for you. In other words, look to ride the tailwind associated with our Clean Living investing theme.
Recent companies looking to embrace this tailwind and distinguish themselves from their competition include Chipotle and to some extent McDonald’s, but Panera, as well as Yum Brands’ Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, were some of the early adopters. Panera, in particular, has made several strides in recent years to inform consumers about the ingredients in their offerings and in 2016 phased out artificial ingredients from its menu.
We suspect we will be seeing far more companies embrace this investing theme with their marketing materials in the days and weeks to come. Of course, it’s one thing to market that you have better for you ingredients, but a cheeseburger no matter how you make it is still going to be part of our Guilty Pleasure investing theme. Sorry, McDonald’s.

 

Panera is betting that customers want to know more about what’s in their food.

The restaurant chain announced on Tuesday that it has started identifying the amount of whole grain per serving, as well as the overall percentage of whole grain, on all of their whole-grain bread.

The strategy anticipates that health-conscious consumers will shop more at Panera if they have a better idea of what they’re eating and an easier way to incorporate healthy foods into their diets.

In 2016, the company finished phasing out artificial ingredients from its menu. Last year, Panera began disclosing the amount of added sugar and calories in its fountain drinks, and it introduced a new line of drinks with lower sugar and no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors or preservatives. Panera observed that customers were choosing healthier drinks.

 

Source: Panera wants you to know exactly what’s in its bread – CNN

Restaurants ring up Big Data to drive sales

Restaurants ring up Big Data to drive sales

We’ve said it before and odds are we will say it again – applications for our Disruptive Innovators can come from a number of areas, including ones that are less than obvious. Big Data and its use in the restaurant industry is such an example as those companies look to overcome flat traffic trends and drive incremental purchases. How? By knowing what your preference are thanks to Big Data, mobile apps, and loyalty programs, which allow them to notify you when your preferred items, or ones that match your profile, are on sale. This likely means more pop-ups for last minute, impulse item additions like the extra guac from Chipotle courtesy of DoorDash. And yes, Chipotle is in the process of rolling out its own loyalty program.

 

Data is emerging as a powerful weapon in the increasingly competitive battle for the restaurant consumer. An explosion of food vendors—and menu items—is giving diners more choices than ever. Some restaurants say using customer data to tailor menus to their tastes can give them a leg up.

“Total restaurant traffic is not growing, so anything restaurants can do to offer a better customer experience differentiates them from the competition,” says David Portalatin, a food-industry adviser at market-research firm NPD Group Inc.

Many restaurants collect customer data through their loyalty programs, which diners can sign up for online or via an app. (After customers make a certain number of visits, they earn points that can be redeemed for discounted items or at no charge.) But the data that companies collect through such programs offer a window into the habits of only their most loyal customers, who aren’t the ones they really need to convince to return. And there are limitations to some online loyalty programs: Restaurants that collect email addresses without logging specific purchases can only send out emails about promotions to the whole customer base. An email for half-priced Frappuccinos, for example, would be wasted on someone who only ever orders coffee.

By contrast, individuals’ purchases are easier to track on mobile-order apps. Starbucks Corp. realized that its mobile app, which had only been accessible to members of its Starbucks Rewards loyalty program, could be more effective if it were open to everyone. Starbucks had 15 million active Rewards members, but it had another 60 million monthly customers it knew nothing about. Starbucks in March opened the app to everyone.

Source: How Restaurants Are Using Big Data as a Competitive Tool – WSJ