Fast Organic Food
Fast food is taking on a decidedly healthier and pricier persona with the growing number of cafes and restaurants popping up around the country that are serving sandwiches, salads and others foods with organic ingredients.
“We’re eating more organic food than ever before, and it’s growing,” Harry Balzer, vice president of the NPD Group, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “In the food business, you don’t have many things that are growing.”
Eateries, according to Mr. Balzer, are looking to cash in on the $14 billion and growing organic food market. Until now, most of that business has been done at retail but operators are finding that consumers are willing to pay the price to have organic dishes served to them.
According to Mintel International, there has been a 363 percent increase in the number of organic items on restaurant menus over the past two years.
Restaurants with names including Lean & Green, Organic to Go, Lettüs Organic Café and O’Naturals are looking to offer consumers an organic alternative to standard fast food fare.
Conventional fast feeders and quick service restaurant (QSR) operators are also looking at the organic opportunity. Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill are two that have introduced organic menu items to their patrons.
Organic to Go founder Jason Brown told the Union-Tribune that price remains a major factor in consumer purchasing decisions. That’s why his company sources from large farms owned by manufacturers such as Con-Agra and Dean Foods.
“If you don’t do it on a large scale, it’s difficult to make the price point fair,” he said. “An office worker who needs a ham and cheese sandwich has a budget, and it needs to be in the $6 or $7 range.”
Discussion Questions: Do you see a market opportunity for a company to do in foodservice what Whole Foods has done at retail? What do you see as the challenges to success for fast organic food operators? Do you see the major fast food or quick service chains making a full-scale push into organics?