Driving Sales With Unique, Innovative Products

In the world of foodservice, the buzz is all about limited-time offers (LTOs). For Rich Products, that means creating customized products on an ongoing basis.
“Five or 10 years ago, we created customized products that went right on the menu full-time,” says Kevin Malchoff, group president of Rich’s U.S./Canada business. “Today, restaurants are looking for opportunities to bring uniqueness on a short-term basis — 120 days or 90 days — to their menu. They may want to bring a product in, showcase it, and drive customers to the stores. What’s exciting is that an LTO may open up the door for that product to stay on the menu long-term. That’s a different new dynamic for us.”
Last year, for example, Rich Products developed a stuffed French toast for a national family dining chain. The product grew sales so much that it was named the chain’s new product of the year. It is now a permanent fixture on the menu.
In general, foodservice and in-store bakery/deli operators are increasingly fighting for the same dollar, especially when it comes to takeout foods.
“For restaurants, takeout traditionally meant pizza or the drive-thru at a fast-food location,” Malchoff says. “Today, you call Chili’s for takeout, and you get a special parking space when you arrive to pick up your food. For consumers with limited time, these restaurants are saying, ‘How can I get a great meal [to them] faster?’”
Overall, the restaurant industry has proven to be a fertile ground for innovation — and for being on the cutting edge when it comes to impending food trends.
“What makes the foodservice industry so unique is that it’s still the hospitality industry,” Malchoff says. “The restaurant operators who are successful understand that it’s their job to make the consumer happy and comfortable and [give them] a great meal when they come in. Whether it’s a drive-thru, a sit-down family-style casual-theme or a white-tablecloth restaurant, the successful operators are the ones who continue to bring hospitality to the business. Those are the true innovators.”