Very Important Beverage Professionals Chain Beverage Buzz: April 1, 2013

The Best and Worst Restaurants for Healthy Kids’ Meals
Apple slices do not a healthy kids’ meal make, especially if they come with fried chicken and a soda. In an analysis of children’s meals at 50 large chain restaurants, the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that 97 percent of the possible kids’ meal combos failed to meet its nutrition standards for children’s meals; 19 of those chains offer no kids’ options that pass muster. The National Restaurant Association offers different standards for what makes a kids’ meal “healthy”; by its guidelines, 91 percent of the options failed. Nine restaurants, including McDonald’s (MCD), Carl’s Jr., and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (AFCE), had zero options that met either standard. MORE>>

Why mid-size and emerging chains should consider group purchasing to cut costs
Ask any seasoned franchise owner and he’ll tell you that the most important aspect to any menu is your supplier. Quality and cost are paramount, and last year’s epic drought, was a wake-up call for many restaurant owners- particularly for emerging franchises. Staying profitable in the face of surging commodity costs is a concern, and the large national chains have been staying ahead for years by using group purchasing. MORE>>

Fast 50 Spotlights High-velocity Adult Beverage Brands
Identifying the spirits, wine and beer brands that achieved significant volume gains last year and are positioned to continue growing in 2013 and beyond, Technomic is announcing its Fast 50 Brands report. The 50 adult beverage brands were identified by analyzing not only volume performance metrics, but also through examining key brand attributes and supplier strategy and support programs contributing to the brand’s success. MORE>>

Captain Morgan Planning Limited Edition Sherry Oak Finish
Diageo will extend its Captain Morgan rum brand with a limited edition Sherry Oak Finish next month, Shanken News Daily has learned. Captain Morgan Sherry Oak Finish ties in with the company’s efforts to illuminate the exploits of the real-life Captain Henry Morgan, including, most recently, its Sundance Channel documentary on Morgan’s 17th-century flagship, the Satisfaction. MORE>>

Absolut Picks Up Innovation Pace, As Pernod Mulls Acquisitions
Pernod Ricard’s Absolut brand has officially unveiled Absolut Craft, a new range of artisanal flavored vodkas designed exclusively for professional bartenders. Created in partnership with master bartender Nick Strangeway, the collection will ultimately feature three expressions, each using “at least 12 macerates, infusions and/or distillates” to create a sophisticated flavor profile. MORE>>

RPI slips in February amid softer sales, traffic
Due in large part to softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) slipped below 100 in February.  The RPI stood at 99.9 in February, down 0.8 percent from January’s five-month high.  February represented the fourth time in the last five months that the RPI stood below 100, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators. MORE>>

NRA announces Operator Innovations finalists
Three finalists in each of five categories ‑ Food Safety, Health and Nutrition, Menu Development, and Sustainability and Technology ‑ will vie for top honors at the 2013 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago in May. The winners in each category, as well as an Innovator of the Year selected from the finalists, will be announced during the show’s Destination: Celebration gala May 18. MORE>>

What's important to consumers at restaurants?
Today’s consumers have seemingly endless dining options, from hundreds of restaurants, to prepared foods purchased from stores, or even home-cooked meals. If restaurant operators want to successfully compete in this environment, they need an intimate understanding of the restaurant experience from a consumer perspective. To gain that understanding, Technomic developed its extensive Consumer Restaurant Brand Metrics online database and just released a downloadable “Voice of the Customer” summary report that offers a concise overview of the attributes that are most important to consumers and the chains that succeed across these metrics. MORE>>

Jinro world's top spirit, Emperador now 2nd
Hite-Jinro’s soju brand, Jinro, remains the world's best-selling spirit after growing sales 6% to 65.3 9-litre cases last year, according to DI's soon-to-be-published The Millionaires’ Club 2013. After announcing itself as the world’s biggest brandy brand in last year's list, the Philippines’ Emperador has jumped from fourth to second place in the overall ranking, following growth of 54%. MORE>>

The Wine Group’s Dubiel And Diageo’s Saller On Marketing To Millennials
As a growing number of young LDA consumers continue to enter the drinks market, wine and spirits companies are adapting their marketing strategies to appeal to the highly sought-after millennial demographic. During last week’s Impact Marketing Seminar, Jeff Dubiel, chief marketing officer for The Wine Group’s Underdog Wine Merchants unit, showcased the millennial-friendly approaches that have benefited the company’s Franzia and Cupcake labels, among others. MORE>>

Technomic Reveals Adult Beverage Industry Growth Drivers
With sales approaching a record $200 billion, the adult beverage industry continued on its growth path in 2012 despite a challenging economic environment. The trends in spirits, wine and beer prove yet again that Americans are embracing adult beverages as appropriate accompaniments to food and socializing. Total adult beverage volume grew 1 percent to 7.7 billion gallons, while dollars increased 3.6 percent to reach $199.8 billion, according to Technomic’s recently-released Special Trends in Adult Beverage Report: 2013 State of the Industry report. MORE>>

National Restaurant Association Congratulates Buffalo Wild Wings on Receiving VIBE Vista Operator Award
The National Restaurant Association today congratulated Buffalo Wild Wings on receiving the 2013 VIBE Vista Operator Award for Best Responsible Alcohol Service Program. The restaurant received the award at the VIBE (Very Important Beverage Executives) conference in Las Vegas this week. The award is sponsored by the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Alcohol® program. MORE>>

Diageo's Paul Walsh cracks China
Standing in a cavernous basement bar with more than 10,000 copper pipes jutting above his head, Paul Walsh appears more concerned about the cleaning rota than the array of Scotch whisky laid out before him.  “Can you keep it pristine?” the chief executive of Diageo asks Laurence Law, brand director for Johnnie Walker in China and the man responsible for Beijing’s new Johnnie Walker House. “We need to keep it looking like this all the time, not just when we have visitors,” Walsh continues.  MORE>>