The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
by Dan Malovany
Just when I think I know what I’m talking about, someone comes at me with some comment that takes me back and makes me feel like a complete doofus.
Take a chat I had recently with Larry Marcucci, president of Alpha Baking in Chicago. So Larry, how’s biz?
“Business is booming,” he replied.
Now I’ve been asking Larry about business trends for the last decade or so, and I’ve never heard him say anything remotely like that. So naturally, I followed up with the probing question, “Duh-huh, what?”
Fortunately, Larry understood what I said. Since January, business had been going unexpectedly well on a number of fronts. Alpha’s foodservice bun business was expanding, it has new requests for multigrain rolls from retail customers and its whole-grain bread business remains strong.
In fact, any bakery that properly positioned itself in the whole-grain segment is feeling a lot better than they did last year at this time. Flowers Foods, Pepperidge Farm and Sara Lee are just a few who are riding the wave with more new offerings appearing on the shelves each month. Even struggling Interstate Bakeries Corp. just rolled out four more varieties of its Baker’s Inn bread, although the nation’s largest baking company is exiting some business, which is being snatched up by other bakers like hyperactive kids on a sugar buzz.
In Alpha’s case, Larry noted, the growth also comes from investing in the future during the “depth of darkness” last year, which is paying off. As I like to say, those who invest for the long term often experience short-term gains as well. That’s the good news.
Now, the bad. Kraft Foods has kick-started its media blitz to promote its partnership with The South Beach Diet by hyping a research study that suggests people can lose more weight with this modified-carbohydrate diet than by counting calories.
In a study by Radiant Research, a company that specializes in conducting clinical trials, overweight people who followed the SOBE diet lost more weight and body fat compared with those dieters who adopted a low-fat, portion-controlled plan.
In fact, Kraft, which funded the study, notes the SOBE dieters actually consumed fewer calories than those on portion-controlled diets.
“The South Beach Diet focuses on the right carbohydrates, the right fats and lean sources of protein to help people feel more satisfied on fewer calories,” the release says. In other words, stay away from sugar and refined flour and eat more whole grains. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
And the UGLY. Warning to readers, this is not a pretty picture. For breakfast, our ugly winner is the Burger King Enormous Omelet Sandwich with 730 calories and 47 gm. of fat, which is bigger and badder than the Whopper. For lunch, the victor is Hardee’s Monster Thickburger with 1,400 calories and 107 gm. of fat.
For dinner, from little ol’ Mulligan’s restaurant in Decatur, Ga., the grand champion is the “Luther Burger,” which is a bacon cheeseburger with a Krispy Kreme donut for a bun. Sweet.
Yes, it’s the “Big A” sandwich trend, and we mean “Big A” in more ways than one. Today’s consumers not only have a “split personality” when it comes to food. No, no, they’re downright schitzo. Don’t tell me that it’s just a bunch of hyperactive 18- to 24-year-olds chowing them down. I’ve lately shared my airline seat with Big A people of all ages, and I don’t mean “Big Abs.”
But I digress. This is simply portion-control gone out of control.