Chicago-based food ordering startup GrubHub is merging with its rival Seamless, creating a company with more than $100 million in revenue and a combined network of more than 20,000 local takeout restaurants across the U.S. GrubHub and New York-based Seamless connect diners to restaurants that offer takeout and delivery, taking a cut of transactions processed through their technology platforms. The companies said they collectively processed about $875 million in food sales last year via their website and mobile applications. They have operations in more than 500 cities in the U.S.
Instagram is a useful tool for sharing our lives visually with others and it’s probably a sign of how comfortable the Western world currently is that one of its most popular uses is ‘foodstagrams’ – photos of everyday meals. We’ve already seen one restaurant tap the social media service to build a user-created menu, but now a Spanish charity is aiming to fight world hunger with its FoodShareFilter app, which enables users to raise money and awareness to fight world hunger by sharing customized food photos on Instagram. Created by the Manos Unidas NGO, which promotes the development of some of the world’s poorest countries, the app is a standalone download which lets users take photos of their meal and apply a filter with a message reading ‘This photo helps millions of people to avoid starvation’ in Spanish, as well as the hashtag #foodsharefilter.
Eating is traditionally a social experience, something recognized by the UK’s Casserole scheme, which connects elderly people with leftover meals cooked by their neighbors. Now EatWith aims to link up travelers in need of food with residents willing to meet new people. While established services such as Airbnb let homeowners open up their empty rooms to visitors on a short-term basis, EatWith users can advertise their kitchen as an alternative to expensive restaurants for those passing through the city. Adventurous travelers get to sample a taste of a regional cuisine not available in commercial eateries and can also connect with locals in a way otherwise not possible. According to co-founder Guy Michlin, it’s not unlikely they will receive tips not found in guide books to make their trip more unique, and might even make a friend. Hosts typically charge around USD 35 to USD 50 per head, of which EatWith takes a 15 percent cut. While it currently runs a scheme offering a ‘verified’ badge to users that the EatWith team have personally dined with, it hopes to eventually allow frequent users to make recommendations for others.
The Specialty Food Association is launching a new brand to highlight the passion, creativity and quality that fuels the specialty food industry, Specialty Food: Craft. Care. Joy. The launch includes the not-for-profit trade association’s first-ever advertising campaign. The branding effort started earlier this year with a name change for the Association, formerly the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc. (NASFT). It comes amid record sales for the $86-billion industry and the expansion of Association programs for specialty food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs. The ad campaign, launching this month in leading industry trade publications and e-newsletters, features Association members who have become successful small business owners. “The people behind the products in our industry have wonderful stories about the craft, care and joy they bring to their work,” says Specialty Food Association President Ann Daw. “Our campaign seeks to provide inspiration to others and drive growth in our industry.” See more at specialtyfood.com/craftcarejoy.
What Your Coffee Says About You
milkmade flavor of the day: Sakura (aka Cherry Blossom Ice Cream)
cherry blossom ice cream served over the cherry blossom leaves
Spring sprung this weekend in New York and it sure was gorgeous. We were able to pay a trip out to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. After a little hanami - the act of enjoying the beauty of cherry blossom flowers - at the park, we snagged some felled blossoms, took them home, and turned them into ice cream. Of course we did!
See, in Japan the flowers and leaves of the cherry blossom tree are preserved and eaten — either salted and pickled, or used in tea, or wrapped around mochi to make sakuramochi or other candies. Now, we present, Sakura Ice Cream. How does it taste, you ask? It’s smooth, milky, delicious, and oddly enough, tastes a bit like coconut.
We ended on homemade espresso ice cream & donuts.
Fairway Market will go public today and could soon be worth more than fancy-food competitor Whole Foods. Bloomberg reports that the supermarket chain’s IPO is scheduled to be $453.6 million. The company, which currently has 12 stores throughout the East Coast and aims to expand to more than 300 shops throughout the country, raked in $554.9 million in sales last year—which is a whole lot of groceries.
via Village Voice
Takeaways: The panelists quoted a statistic that says that only 41 percent of millennials go to traditional grocery stores but did not acknowledge that grocery stores still have the vast majority of the market cornered. Sure, there are tech-friendly alternatives, such as Greenling, or some of the prepared meals companies, such as My Fit Foods, but big grocers such as HEB, Whole Foods and Safeway continue to build stores as a quick pace to keep up with increased demand. The problem is that there is very little incentive for grocers to add technology to the shopping experience because they operate on such small profit margins and if they take too many risks to be on the cutting edge, they risk losing more shoppers than they would gain. Even though so many of us are carrying smartphones while we shop, the use of grocery apps, such as those to help you build and share grocery lists or find out the nutritional value of food, hasn’t taken off as much as technologists might have hoped they would. One reason grocers might take a risk on investing in technology is to gain more data about what shoppers are looking for and how they shop. Shoppers might be willing to change their habits if there were an incentive to do so, such as additional and/or personalized coupons. Interactive displays in grocery stores could provide that kind of data to grocer stores, but if they become too much like “advertising” — or if advertisers started to, say, put ads on the freezer door and customers had to watch a 30-second ad to get to the Eggo waffles — grocery stores risk losing customers’ trust — and their shopping dollars.
Another hurdle is that grocery stores vary so much from place to place and the infrastructure to operate them is massive. One small change in the store could require untold changes behind the scenes to make it happen. One area that grocery stores are starting to improve upon is targeted offers for consumers based on the products they are already buying. This is happening mostly at the check-out stand, where coupons are printed based on what consumers just purchased, but some retailers, such as Randalls, are investing in coupon apps that give customers coupons specifically tailored to their wants and needs. Talking grocery carts might seem like an innovation of the future, but if we’re asking for the stores to pay for that (and their maintenance), it’s not going to happen.
#TECHmunch cool display of the day goes to @driscollsberry twitter.com/ErikDeutsch/st…— Erik Deutsch (@ErikDeutsch) March 10, 2013
When you’re the blog for everybody, you’re not the blog for anybody” - @serena — Serena speaking at Techmunch Austin today
In an effort to fill the lack of affordable produce around the University of Minnesota, students want to open a campus grocery cooperative. Last week, a group of about 20 students began planning to approach the University about funding a full-service grocery store in the next few years. The store could be built in the University’s Donhowe Building on 15th Avenue Southeast or elsewhere in Dinkytown, where there hasn’t been a full-scale grocer in more than 15 years. To keep costs down for student shoppers, it would most likely follow a nonprofit cooperative business model, in which students who use the co-op’s services could own and democratically control it. The group of students, who call themselves the Food Coalition, cited a lack of quality produce on campus and the hassle of getting to other grocery stores as its major reasons for the project.