Lessons from the Food Industry

Posted in Strategy, Tips

Two Degrees bars use cause marketing to help sales. Image: twodegreesfood.com

If you’re in a food-related business, paying attention to trends in the industry can help you make key decisions.  The Institute of Food Technologists reports more people are preparing food at home due to the economy. Food categories that are likely to grow include tea, coffee, snack bars and desserts.  Food research is not the only source of future indicators. Take a look at what some food companies have done to stay successful.

Hantz Farms

Hantz Farms in Detroit, MI is trying to establish the biggest urban farm in the country. The pioneering farm is taking a big risk by settling in Detroit, which has been hit hard by the economy. The farm’s goal is an ambitious 11-month growing season and will use abandoned property for growing space. Hantz Farms biggest problem is working with the local government to satisfy ordinances and agricultural laws. Though the farm hasn’t been built, there are concerns with how well it can thrive in the middle of the city and how many jobs it can provide.

Tip: Consider locating your business in unique area, if your business plan allows for it. Collaborate with local economic development center to discuss your hiring plans and other benefits. These government agencies provide guidance on getting permits, tax breaks and other issues. Even if your plans aren’t solid, raise early awareness of the business by discussing it with government officials and media outlets.


Wendy’s recently revamped a 42-year-old burger to increase sales and improve its image. Dave’s Hot ‘N’ Juicy burger comes with extra cheese and buttered burger buns. The reason for the change was to increase its standing among larger competitors like McDonald’s. The reinvention was no easy task: Wendy’s asked thousands of customers about their eating habits and systematically changed ingredients until the revamped burger was created. Volunteers tried out the new burger in the company’s test kitchens before it was rolled out.

Tip: Research which of your current products could use a new spin or makeover. Tweaking some key ingredients or other aspects of the product can help boost sales. It may take some time to see exactly what needs to be changed, but stick with it.

Two Degrees

This up-and-coming snack bar  company combines healthy food with a charitable cause. Two Degrees is banking on selling snack bars and donating nutritious food to hungry children throughout the world. The nutrition packs are created by nonprofit Valid Nutrition. Each one is ready to consume and uses local ingredients familiar to recipients. On the retail side, the snack bars come in three flavors and are available at Whole Foods. It faces tough competition from other nutrition bars like Clif Bars, but its charitable mission is the big selling point.

Tip: Consumers are more aware of nutrition and food concerns around the world. Consider partnering with a nonprofit and creating a cause marketing tie-in.  Cause marketing is a partnership between a nonprofit and for-profit business that generates sales and awareness. 87% of consumers consider buying one product over the other if it is related to a charitable cause. This is a great way to make your product stand out in a crowded field.

Recent developments in the food industry show there are some amazing opportunities for growth. These three businesses are very different, but have used smart strategies to stay competitive. Your business can thrive with some help from local government agencies, making over old products and cause marketing.

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