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Effective Crisis Communications Strategies for Food Ingredient Marketers

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Crisis communications is not something that should be taken lightly, especially in the food and beverage industry. Food and beverage companies, including ingredient companies, face major reputational risks when hit with crises, such as environmental contamination, food safety recalls, workplace emergencies and governmental investigations.

It’s important to anticipate these types of situations early and have a clear set of strategies in place for managing them. While every situation is different, the following steps can help set your company on the right path when faced with a crisis.

Create a plan before a crisis happens

Think about everything that could happen and how to effectively manage each situation before a crisis occurs. This may include an honest self-assessment or outside audit of your organization in order to predict where potential crises could arise. By identifying potential threats and developing successful strategies ahead of time, you’ll be more prepared to respond quickly and efficiently. Keeping updated information and appropriate documentation about your organization and its products and services can also make it easier for you to respond appropriately when a crisis occurs.

Appoint a crisis management team

This could be someone — or a group of individuals — within your company or outside your organization. Either way, you’ll want to designate and train the appropriate spokespeople, such as key leadership and other external-facing staff members, to address issues as they arise. It’s also important to monitor and keep communication lines open between staff in order to promote a culture of transparency and keep employees feeling like they’re in the know. Internal announcements can also keep well-meaning employees from offering inaccurate information to the public, which in turn helps protect your organization’s reputation.

Manage internal and external messages

A significant part of crisis communications is maintaining positive relationships with media. By cultivating a relationship of openness and trust between your organization and reporters, you’ll be more likely to have them on your side when a crisis occurs. Consider pitching stories, ideas and expert commentary to reporters when times are good. When dealing with a crisis, keep your messages clear and consistent. If possible, try to anticipate the needs of the media beforehand so you can provide them with the information they need as quickly and efficiently as possible. Keeping an updated list of all local and national reporters who cover your segment of the food and beverage industry can also help you supply information promptly.

Communicate early and often

While it’s imperative to be proactive rather than reactive, there’s a fine line between responding quickly and acting hastily. If you don’t have sufficient information or satisfying answers about the steps you are taking to resolve a situation, you probably aren’t ready to go public just yet. Determine the best communication methods for handling the crisis, such as hosting a press conference or in-person briefing. Distributing a press release with the basic who, what, when, where and why can also help you communicate significant information.

Identify key audiences and communication channels

It’s also important to identify which audiences matter most to your organization and the type of information each audience is seeking in order to keep them well informed. You’ll want to notify your employees first in order to ensure everyone’s safety and proper information management. From there, you should contact key constituents or partners who may be impacted by the crisis. After that, you can reach out to local media with your prepared statement and collateral materials.

No one wants to be at the center of a crisis, but scrambling around because you’re not prepared to handle it takes things from bad to worse. If the steps above seem overwhelming, consider partnering with experienced crisis communication professionals to help your company create and execute the best responses for a situation.

For more information about the benefits of partnering with an agency who specializes in public relations and crisis communications, please contact us.

Six Strategies for Trade Show Marketing Success at IFT19

IFT’s Annual Event and Food Expo is fast approaching. As one of the largest events in the industry, IFT brings together experts from around the world to share the latest insights and innovations. Whether you’re looking for new customers, new suppliers or new ideas, exhibiting at a large industry trade show like IFT can help your team make connections and expand its reach. But exhibiting often requires substantial time, money and resources.

To help you leverage the impact of your investments, here are six succinct strategies to consider before, during and after exhibiting at an industry trade show.

Set specific goals.

Odds are you’ve already been preparing for IFT19 for several months, so you should have a pretty clear plan of attack. By setting clear, quantifiable goals prior to the show and sharing them with your team, you’ll be more likely to succeed.

Make your booth and messaging stand out.

If you don’t have the ability to design your trade show materials in-house, consider partnering with a team that specializes in trade show marketing and booth design. The right messaging and designs can help draw more people to your booth.

Leverage the power of integrated media.

Integrating email and social media marketing can help drive traffic to your website or a trade show landing page with information about your company’s offerings. To increase your reach and maintain communication, use trade show hashtags and retweet relevant posts before, during or after the show.

Engage your entire team.

Your staff should be well versed on your brand, goals and key differentiators so they can confidently communicate with trade show attendees. If you have extra team members on hand, encourage them to attend presentations to network or learn more about the industry. Interactive booth components can also help your team engage with customers and prospects in real time.

Follow up promptly.

Your work isn’t over when the IFT trade show floor closes on the final day. Reaching out to customers, prospects and media contacts in a timely manner can help enforce top-of-mind awareness for your brand. Post-show emails can also help you stay visible.

Monitor your results.

As soon as you wrap things up, start thinking about your next event and how you can apply what you learned at IFT. By looking back at the goals that you set and determining how you performed, you’ll be better prepared the next go-round.

Remember, choosing to exhibit at an industry trade show like IFT requires significant investment, so it’s important to allocate your time and resources accordingly. Don’t have the means to commit to a trade show booth? Many of the tips mentioned above are also relevant for those who are simply looking to get in front of customers and build brand awareness at the show.

For more information about developing an integrated strategy for trade show marketing, contact us or download our Trade Show Best Practices report.

Top Foodservice Trends for 2019

Top Foodservice Trends for 2019Consumer taste buds and culinary trends change constantly, and the foodservice industry is continually evolving to reflect these changes. It’s important for restaurant owners, chefs and other foodservice professionals to stay up to date on the latest trends if they wish to compete effectively in the industry.

Below, we dive into the top forecasted developments and the most anticipated foodservice trends for 2019.

1. Creative cuisine – Consumers are becoming more adventurous with their eating habits, moving out of their comfort zones to explore bolder flavors and multisensory food experiences. Some are looking for a social experience where they can meet other diners, while others are searching for unique menu items that create immersive experiences. As a result, we anticipate seeing a heightened focus on foodservice products that offer unique — and sometimes unexpected — sensory experiences.

2. Personalized nutrition – As consumers become increasingly more selective with their eating habits, many are seeking individualized eating experiences that are tailored to their specific health and wellness or dietary needs. Meals designed specifically for individual portions are also likely to be particularly attractive to consumers with dietary control and calorie counting concerns in 2019, according to Fast Casual. While it can be challenging to offer personalized experiences in busy, crowded and speedy casual dining environments, the effort will go far with consumers.

3. Plant-based palates – Vegetarian foods are no longer a rarity on restaurant menus. As a growing number of consumers implement plant-based eating habits, executive chefs and culinary experts at Benchmark predict the vegetarian factor will continue to get even hotter. According to its Top Ten Dining Trends for 2019 report, menus will soon see large portions of their dishes dedicated to vegetarians and others with plant-based eating habits.

4. Zero waste – Today’s consumers are growing increasingly concerned with their impact on the environment, leading many foodservice retailers to switch from traditional disposable products to eco-friendly options. In fact, WebstaurantStore predicts this will be among the top foodservice trends for 2019. Moving forward, consumers will gravitate toward restaurant and convenience stores that find innovative ways to use all parts of the food they serve in order to meet growing demands for sustainable and green living.

5. Convenience – Restaurants that provide quick and easy sit-down meals or healthy grab-and-go convenience options have been popular for years. In particular, ready-made meals at grocery stores and gas stations are becoming increasingly common as time-pressed consumers look for nutritious meal options that meet their busy lifestyles. On-the-go meal and snacking options made with high-quality or unique ingredients will go especially far in the year ahead, as premiumization continues to evolve to meet modern food trends.

From the way food is prepared to how the ingredients are sourced, there are a lot of ways the foodservice industry can evolve to meet today’s consumer demands. Staying on top of the latest trends will help your company compete effectively in the coming year.

What foodservice trends do you see on the horizon? Comment below to share your thoughts, and stay tuned for more to come in our 2019 food industry trends blog series.

Top Five Tips for Becoming an Authentic Leader in the B2B Food Ingredient Industry

Key Takeaways from the 25th Annual ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference

Picture of 2018 ICAN Women's Leadership Conference logo

On Tuesday, our team had the pleasure of attending ICAN’s annual Women’s Leadership Conference. The powerful event, which has been held in Omaha for 25 years, brought together more than 2,700 men and women from across the United States to share tools and resources for becoming successful leaders in the workplace and in all aspects of life. This year’s theme was authenticity.

While the name implies that the event is geared toward women, many of the messages are applicable to all genders and industries, including the B2B food ingredient industry. Below, we compiled a list of the top five takeaways that we believe are relevant for leaders in the B2B food ingredient industry.

  1. Be real – The speakers at ICAN spun the theme of authenticity in many different ways, but the common message was that authentic leadership is what makes a person truly successful in business and in life. Successful B2B food ingredient companies have a stable mission, vision and set of core values. Their leaders understand themselves as well as their teams and business partners/buyers, and they have the ability to disclose that self-knowledge in an effective way that advances their business. Additionally, successful leaders in the B2B food ingredient industry have an open mind for new ideas and fresh perspectives that allow their companies to grow and prosper.
  2. Know yourself – In her opening keynote, Tasha Eurich, Ph.D., spoke about self-awareness as the meta-skill of the 21st century. To be a successful leader, she said it is important to understand how others perceive you and to actively seek feedback. Similarly, for food ingredient companies, it is important to understand how current and potential customers view your brand and your business. Actively seeking input from others can have a direct impact on your performance and success in the industry.
  3. Tell your story – The second keynote speaker, Kindra Hall (a self-acclaimed professional storyteller), explained how the most effective method for capturing attention and increasing revenue is great storytelling. Stories build bridges, and they are more memorable than stating simple facts. As a leader in the food ingredient industry, it is important to tell your company’s story. The key is to highlight the important elements of your brand that directly connect with your current and potential buyers.
  4. Build your team – Dave Logan, Ph.D., discussed tribal leadership and the importance of developing a strong team. Truly great leaders facilitate teams that don’t rely on the leader to function but still value leadership support. Successful leaders also recognize the individual strengths—and weaknesses—of each team member, and they build triads that bring individuals or groups together. This is especially important in the B2B food ingredient industry, as B2B relationships often involve a series of different buyers, sellers, influencers and decision makers. It is important to develop a strong relationship with each audience in order to help your food ingredient company succeed. Recognizing the individual strengths and weaknesses of various departments of your business, such as your R&D, sales and marketing, and customer service staff, can also help create a solid foundation for success. By offsetting weaknesses with specific strengths, you can better utilize team members and departments for greater efficiency.
  5. Encourage diversity – During the closing session, Brittany Packnett and Angela Hucles spoke about the importance of diversity. While Packnett focused on the importance of social change and empowering women in the workplace, Hucles emphasized the importance of recognizing different types of leaders, especially introverts. The common message between the two presentations was that differences—no matter the type—are essential for success. People from diverse backgrounds bring unique information, and their perspectives can often lead to new opportunities. Similarly, the changing demographic landscape of the United States is giving way to a wide variety of cuisine choices in the food and beverage industry. As a result, ethnic cuisine is expected to play a larger role in food and beverage applications over the next five years, as industry players continue to alter their products to accommodate new consumer preferences. By recognizing unique shifts in the B2C industry, leaders in the B2B food ingredient industry can better equip their customers with the tools and resources they need to meet ever-changing and diverse consumer demands, which in turn can help their companies succeed.

No matter what segment of the food ingredient industry your company specializes in, it is important to be real to yourself and to others. By understanding your company’s core values and mission, as well as the people and events that impact your business, you will be better equipped to lead your team to success.

Top Four Flavor Trends Shaping the Food and Beverage Industry in 2018

We wrap up our consumer trends blog series with a brief look at the most talked about food and beverage flavor trends for 2018.

Today’s consumers are increasingly seeking unique food and beverages that can be shared, are globally inspired and pack a flavorful punch. But there’s still something to be said for the power of comfort foods. Below, we discuss the top four flavor trends shaping the food and beverage industry and the ways in which food and beverage manufacturers can capitalize on these trends.

2018 Flavor Trends

Floral and Botanical Flavors

Today’s consumers are looking for products that are made with natural or non-artificial ingredients. As a result, many food and beverage manufacturers are adding botanical flavors to their applications. For example, rose water is becoming increasingly popular in products like cakes, ice cream and drinks due to its ability to add rich, floral notes. The botanical flavor can also add an unpleasant, perfume-like taste if used in excess, so it’s important for food and beverage manufacturers to use caution when incorporating the flavor into applications. Botanical extracts, which are derived from a variety of natural sources like fruits, leaves and flowers, can also bring sweet, fresh aromatics to applications. From topping dishes with whole flower petals to infusing drinks with botanicals like lavender and elderflower, floral and botanical flavors are great for a variety of applications.

Throwback Flavors

Nostalgia also plays an important role in consumer food and beverage preferences today. For example, blue raspberry and jackfruit are great throwback fantasy flavors that are becoming increasingly popular. The nostalgic banana flavor is also returning—but now with some twists. Banana dulce de leche, coffee-banana, caramelized banana, banana-maple, cinnamon-banana and banana-berry are just a few of the many banana-inspired flavor combinations used in popular food and beverage applications today. Even if a consumer has never lived through the time frames associated with these iconic flavors, he or she can still find enjoyment in being transported to the era through the nostalgic flavors, suggests Firmenich, a fragrance and flavor company. Because nostalgic flavors hold such a special place in the hearts of consumers, they work well for innovative food and beverage products.

Everything Flavors

In addition to throwback flavors, re-purposed flavors are also creating a lot of hype across the food and beverage industry. One in particular is the “everything bagel” flavor, which originally got its claim to fame through the baked goods industry. But the everything bagel seasoning isn’t just for bagels anymore. With the perfect mix of poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried garlic, diced onion and salt, the everything bagel flavor is now everywhere, according to Restaurant Hospitality. “It’s a great combination of flavors because it hits all the major tastes. And from an emotional point of view, it’s familiar to people,” said Snax Gastrobar Sous Chef Chris Ladley. As consumers increasingly demand comforting yet creative flavors, the everything bagel seasoning presents endless opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers to deliver.

Global Flavors

Ethnic cuisines have been popular on restaurant menus for a while, but today’s consumers are looking for ways to enjoy those tastes from the comfort of their homes. With the world at their fingertips—or at least their smartphones—it’s easy for today’s consumers to see what others are eating around the world and naturally want to try those products themselves. To meet these demands, many food and beverage manufacturers are experimenting with signature seasonings, BBQ sauces and marinades from various countries around the world, including Tanzania and Ethiopia, according to the 2018 McCormick Flavor Forecast. North African spices, such as cumin, coriander and cardamom, are also increasing in popularity. The bakery industry is also following suit, with artisan and other globally inspired grains popping up all over. These ethnic-inspired flavors are perfect for pushing everyday dishes to new heights.

Of course, these are just a few of the leading flavor trends. What types of flavor creations are you experimenting with in your applications? Are there other flavors you see on the horizon? Comment below to share your thoughts.

Kraft Food Ingredients Hires Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing for B-to-B Marketing Communications Partnership

Kraft Food Ingredients has announced the hiring of Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing as their official agency of record to manage their business-to-business marketing communications efforts.

Kraft Food Ingredients specializes in developing and providing cheese, dairy, confectionery, condiments and sauces for a variety of applications. Kraft Food Ingredients is a part of The Kraft Heinz Company.

Andrew Scribner, vice president and general manager of Kraft Food Ingredients, stated, “Anderson Partners’ marketing experience in food ingredients and their involvement in the industry will be an asset to the Kraft Food Ingredients team. We’re eager to tell the Kraft Food Ingredients story, particularly how we deliver on quality, safety, innovation and service. Working with Anderson Partners will help us communicate the value of today’s Kraft Food Ingredients to our customers and how we can help them make their products more successful in today’s marketplace.”

Mark Hughes, CEO of Anderson Partners, said, “Our team is excited for the opportunity to work with such a well-loved, iconic brand. Kraft Food Ingredients has such a powerful story to share, and we look forward to collaborating with them to communicate it to their customers. This is a new era for Kraft Food Ingredients, and we’re eager to be a part of it and to use our B-to-B marketing expertise to help them accomplish their marketing goals.”

ABOUT KRAFT FOOD INGREDIENTS

Kraft Food Ingredients is a trusted, customer-driven partner to food manufacturers looking for the finest ingredient solutions, including cheese, dairy, confectionery, condiments and sauces. Headquartered in Glenview, Illinois, and built on a renowned history of success and a foundation of quality, Kraft Food Ingredients is the B-to-B ingredient division of The Kraft Heinz Company—the fifth largest food and beverage company in the world. With the unequaled resources of a global leader, including employees in 40 countries, Kraft Food Ingredients helps customers make an impact in today’s marketplace through proven performance, iconic brand solutions, innovative technologies and world-class service.

For more information on Kraft Food Ingredients, visit www.kraftfoodingredients.com.

2017 Flavor Trends Roundup

Flavor is one of the most crucial aspects of any meal. If it doesn’t taste good, chances are we don’t want to eat it. That being said, palates are constantly evolving and consumers are on the hunt for exciting flavor experiences. The end of the year is a natural time for the industry to look ahead and predict what trends will hit a sweet spot with consumers in the future. As we ring in the new year, we’re rounding up flavors the industry is expecting to gain popularity in 2017.

2017-flavor-trends-internal

According to a press release from Comax Flavors, floral flavors will grow in popularity as the industry searches for innovative ways to answer consumers’ increasing demands for more exciting, natural flavors. Suggested combinations include blueberry hibiscus, orange blossom vanilla and raspberry lavender. Spicy flavors—which have been hot for several years in a row—will be incorporated into more applications. For example, Comax’s flavor line for beverages includes cinnamon caramel, cocoa curry and ginger mandarin cardamom. Comax also foresees an even bigger uptick in the growing smoked food trend with smoky flavors infiltrating everything from beer to chewing gum. However, it’s not all about new tastes, classic childhood favorites—think marshmallow and root beer float flavors—will bring comfort to consumers as we enter a year of unknowns.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) also predicts consumers will be looking for flavors that put a spin on classic favorites in its What’s Hot: Top 10 food trends for 2017. The NRA expects standard condiment flavors will get a homemade reboot in the year ahead. Consumers will be excited to try house-made variations of well-known-flavors, like mustard and mayonnaise, which provide nostalgic flavor with made-from-scratch authenticity. And while adults are looking for flavors that bring them back to childhood, children’s menus will be getting a reboot of their own according to the What’s Hot: 7 kid-friendly food trends to track report. Ethnic flavors and gourmet items will find their way onto kids’ menus in 2017—influencing consumer flavor palates for generations to come.

Both the NRA and the annual McCormick Flavor Forecast predict global flavors will be incorporated into another unexpected menu—the breakfast menu. McCormick provides examples of a variety of exotic foods that are getting a makeover for breakfast. One example is “Congee – The New Oatmeal.” McCormick suggests updating this customarily savory Far East rice porridge with sweet ingredients like mango and balsamic drizzle for breakfast. In another spin on the traditional breakfast, egg yolk is being utilized in interesting interpretations like curing—which Huffington Post recently shared a recipe for making at home. McCormick also takes a closer look at the smoked trend and suggests utilizing a plancha—a tool used in Spain and France for searing meat and incorporating bold flavors and sauces. A variety of pepper flavors makes an appearance in McCormick’s trend predictions as well—including smoky Espelette pepper and sweet combinations like black pepper and dragon fruit.

Overall, 2017 flavors will incorporate a little bit of old and a little bit of new. Many of the predictions we’ve examined focused on either new ingredients in familiar applications or familiar ingredients in new applications. We’d love to know what trends you are most excited to see as we enter the new year—feel free to share in the comments section below.

B2B Food Ingredient Marketing Strategies for Social Media

Understanding the differences between social media platforms can help you share content that reaches your target audience and maximizes your marketing efforts. Learn more >>

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