Opinion pieces on the foodservice equipment and supplies industry from leaders and laymen from all aspects of the business, including dealers, distributors, design consultants and multi-unit operators.
Boycotts, viral videos, striking, protests, opt-out campaigns — all this brings to mind the Occupy Wall Street movement or even unrest in other countries. But that's not what we're discussing this time. No, in this instance we are talking school lunch here in the United States, specifically foodservice in schools participating in federally funded School Meal Programs (SMP).
While still working as a manufacturers' rep in 2000, I attended the annual conference hosted by the Manufacturers' Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, where I heard foodservice design consultant Jim Webb deliver a keynote address titled "Integrity 2000."
For many in the foodservice community 2013 may arrive with a certain sense of déjà vu. That's because it seems like 2013 is poised to offer more of the same type of operating environment the industry experienced over the previous 12 months.
Funny thing about anniversaries...their significance often depends on the relative success of whatever person, place, or thing, is being celebrated or remembered. For a failing sports team, for instance, crossing the century mark might go by as uneventfully as that Mayan End-of-the-World Calendar that we couldn't hear enough about last year.
While 2012 has been an up and down year, it seems as if the restaurant industry is poised to finish strong if the U.S. Commerce Department's November sales results are any indication.
Job growth is critical for the foodservice industry to continue to grow. So the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics' November jobs report showed a decline in unemployment is a good thing, right? Not when it means there are fewer people in the workforce. So foodservice will continue to ride the wave of emotion that accompanies the foggy labor outlook.
The good news is that the business environment is expected to improve in 2013. The bad news is that foodservice operators face no shortage of challenges heading into next year.
While Gross Domestic Product increased the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index slipped into contraction mode. Much like the overall U.S. economy, it seems as if the foodservice industry will continue to ride this roller coaster for a while.
Given that we are more connected than ever and as well informed as we have ever been, are trade associations still relevant in today's foodservice industry?
In many ways it is ironic that in this issue we explore the future of foodservice design consultants. That's because in this issue we also remember design consultant Jim Webb who passed away far too early in late October. It was out of several conversations with Jim that we decided to make this article part of our December issue.