3 Tips for Serving Fresh Foodservice Content

With new social channels popping up everywhere you turn, it’s never been more important to offer relevant content. Operators want to feel connected to brands and expect to see what’s fresh and trending. Keeping up with this expectation is a challenge for many companies. Any touchpoints with outdated imagery can brand them as out of touch or irrelevant, making routine updates crucial. Thankfully, with a little bit of planning on the front end, some of the most engaging types of content are fairly easy to create. Here are 3 ways to freshen up your photo and video library.

  1. Real-time shareable content.

Real-time content offers operators an informal look at your company and its personality. Think playful Boomerang videos from behind the scenes of a photoshoot or snapshots of your sales team at a trade show. These don’t need to be captured by a professional photographer, but teaming up with an agency for content scheduling and shooting tips will take most of the burden off of you.

  1. New product uses and recipes.

Sharing innovative product uses or trend-inspired recipes is a great way to make your company relevant. Think drool-worthy photography that re-introduces a classic product in a new way. Or maybe you’ve got a 15-year-old recipe with hundreds of 5-star reviews. Having a shiny new photo to tout on your social platforms will give it new life. Though more planning is often required for this photography, its use is virtually limitless from print to web to social.

  1. How-to instructional videos.

Quick how-to videos have grown in popularity over the last 5 years and have great stopping power. Think short Tasty-style videos that demo a recipe or showcase product versatility. Even a more straightforward video for how to use a new product adds value and interactivity to your website’s product page. The goal here is to build up a branded video series over time that compels operators to keep coming back for more.

Want to freshen up your photo or video library? We’d love to help. Reach out to Anita Nelson at anita@infoodmktg.com or 612-353-3410 to chat.

 

Gingerbread Cookies

The most wonderful time of the year deserves wonderful cookies. With the holidays fast approaching, you’ll need these gingerbread cookies from Alyssa’s recipe book.

Makes 7 dozen, 3-inch cookies

A nostalgic holiday cookie, perfect for rolling and decorating to keep a classic holiday tradition alive.

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks – reserve whites for frosting
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 5-6 cups flour

Frosting:

  • 11/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. vinegar
  • 18 large marshmallows
  • 2 egg whites
  • 11/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Cookies:

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yolks one at a time and beat until incorporated. Beat in the molasses, buttermilk, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cream of tartar. Add the flour a cup at a time, waiting to add the next cup until the previous is mostly incorporated. Dough can be a little sticky since it will be rolled out with flour. Chill the dough until firm.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out chilled dough with flour about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes as desired. Bake for about 6-7 minutes until cookies look set and are starting to brown on the edges. Makes 7 dozen 3-inch cookies.

Frosting:

Put all the ingredients in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with an inch or 2 of simmering water. Cook and stir until marshmallows are melted. Add egg whites and beat 7 minutes over the double boiler. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

To Assemble:

Spread frosting on cooled cookies or transfer to a piping bag to decorate cooled cookies. Let frosting harden before serving.

Gingerbread Cookies

MAKES 7 DOZEN 3-INCH COOKIES
A nostalgic holiday cookie, perfect for rolling and decorating to keep a classic holiday tradition alive.

INGREDIENTS

COOKIES

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks – reserve whites for frosting
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 5-6 cups flour

FROSTING

  • 11/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. vinegar
  • 18 large marshmallows
  • 2 egg whites
  • 11/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

DIRECTIONS COOKIES

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the yolks one at a time and beat until incorporated. Beat in the molasses, buttermilk, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cream of tartar.

Add the flour a cup at a time, waiting to add the next cup until the previous is mostly incorporated. Dough can be a little sticky since it will be rolled out with flour.

Chill the dough until firm. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out chilled dough with flour about 1/4 inch thick.

Cut out shapes as desired. Bake for about 6-7 minutes until cookies look set and are starting to brown on the edges. Makes 7 dozen 3-inch cookies.

DIRECTIONS FROSTING

Put all the ingredients in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with an inch or 2 of simmering water. Cook and stir until marshmallows are melted. Add egg whites and beat 7 minutes over the double boiler. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spread frosting on cooled cookies or transfer to a piping bag to decorate cooled cookies. Let frosting harden before serving.

Food styling: then & now

Last month, we touched on the important role that photography plays in food marketing. But, let’s rewind a few steps to consider the magic that happens before food even makes it in front of a camera. What—or better yet, who—makes a dish go from ordinary to drool-worthy?

The answer: food stylists. They are the nimble problem-solvers that make food shine for the camera. From having an expert understanding of food properties and cooking techniques, to knowing where to source just the right hamburger bun, food stylists rely on an extensive knowledge base to make food camera-ready. But the job doesn’t end there. Changing photography trends and budgets have forced food stylists to continuously show their adaptability in new ways.

Authenticity, not perfection

Before the boom of food blogs and Instagram, food photography had a very different sense of style. Every element on the plate was analyzed and arranged to be “just so”, and dishes were often adorned with artful garnishes for a flawless finish. But the age of social media prompted a movement toward authenticity for the genre—food that looks more real and unaltered is not only accepted, it’s expected. Today’s food stylists are tasked with creating dishes that appear freshly-plated or “as-is”. “Gone are the days when a slice of cheesecake had razor-sharp edges and every item on the plate was meticulously placed with a tweezer,” says Minneapolis food stylist Beth Emmons. “The challenge in styling today is to create something with a little bit of mess, but not so much that it is unappetizing.”

One stylist, many hats

Despite all that food stylists already have on their plates, reduced marketing budgets are demanding additional responsibilities. We’ve seen food stylists add propping, content planning and art directing to their skill set. So, not only does the food stylist need to track down that perfect hamburger bun, they’re also charged with sourcing the props and surfaces necessary to set the scene for the hero shot. “With the increased  demand for photography for social media, combined with lower budgets, it is often up to the food stylist to fill in some gaps,” Emmons explains. “We are often the source of ideas for content, and it is also not uncommon for us to bring props from home to provide additional choices for the client.”

Whether they’re wearing just one hat or juggling between three or four, food stylists are essential for a smooth-running food photoshoot. They bring your hero shot to levels of delectable goodness that will inspire consumers. And, bonus—their expertise will increase the value of your photography investment in the process.

Looking to invest in food photography? Let’s chat.

3 reasons we’re INto the Krusteaz website

Happy Pancake Day! This comfort-food holiday had us pouring over a full-stack of pancake-related marketing goodness. In all our research, the Krusteaz foodservice website caught our attention. Here are three reasons we’re INto their website:

1. It’s responsive.

Being responsive allows the page layout to adapt to the size of a user’s screen. Here, the content stacks and the slider is removed for simplicity on mobile screens. Not only does it make for a positive viewing experience across all devices, responsiveness also contributes to SEO. Search engines will prioritize responsive sites over those that only have a desktop experience.

2. It’s easy to navigate.

With a simple navigation of just six primary sections and only four submenu items, there’s not much to this site—and that’s a good thing. Visitors can quickly find what they need and get there with just one click.

3. It’s simple.

We really like the flow and organization of the page layouts. The homepage consists of just three sections of content, and more than half of that space is devoted to photos of trending recipes.

OUR RATING

Overall, the website structure and user experience for Krusteaz Professional is in a good place. As for design, we extended our research to the Krusteaz retail site to see how the brand style translates between retail and foodservice. Foodservice websites often don’t get the “design love” that their retail counterparts do. The modern look and feel of the Krusteaz retail site has a freshness that we’re missing in their foodservice site. We understand that foodservice and retail websites have different priorities, but we could see some of these modern retail elements utilized to take their foodservice site up a notch.

Hungry for more? Contact us to learn how we can work together.

12 Days of Holiday Food Packaging

As a food marketing agency, it’s hard for us not to ooh and ahh over some of the festive packages we see hit the shelves this time of year. Join us as we find and discuss the packaging for 12 food products dressed in holiday style.

Day 12: Land O’Lakes Eggnog

Our Notes

We couldn’t wrap up our series on holiday food packaging without taking a look at this seasonal eggnog from Land O’Lakes. Most of this carton has taken on a creamy tan background with a very subtle speckled texture. A simple red and green illustration of a wreath encompasses the product name and decidedly brands the package for Christmas.

Overall Thoughts

Like a few other products we’ve looked at for this holiday series, Land O’Lakes took a very simple approach with their eggnog packaging. There’s no product photography on the front. But, the creamy, speckled background hints at the beverage inside that’s traditionally sprinkled with nutmeg. As the singular element of Christmas on the package, the wreath appears stylistically retro, a nod to the nostalgia associated with this holiday party drink. The simple package design may not have a major “wow” factor, but it sure got us in the holiday spirit.

Day 11: Angie’s Frosted Sugar Cookie Boom Chicka Pop

Our Notes

Here at IN, we have a soft spot for Angie’s, both for their popcorn and for their branding. Looking at just the layout of this holiday-edition bag, not much has changed from the standard packaging. Snowflakes have been added in a simple line at the top of the bag, and the logo has been transformed into a Christmas ornament. Known for their brightly-colored bags, Angie’s made the switch to metallic for their Holidrizzle packaging.

Overall Thoughts

Our eyes lit up like kids at Christmas when we saw the display of Angie’s Holidrizzle Boom Chicka Pop. Though the layout of this holiday-edition bag hasn’t changed much from the standard packaging, Angie’s has certainly made a festive impact with a simple switch to metallic for their Holidrizzle bags. Not only does this make the bags eye-catching among the other snacks on the shelves, but the metallic finish feels premium and special, a perfect fit for the  Frosted Sugar Cookie Kettle Corn inside.

Day 10: Coffeemate Peppermint Mocha Creamer

Our Notes

The seasonal line of Coffeemate creamer received a wintry packaging makeover with a flurry of snowflakes falling in the background. For this Peppermint Mocha variety, a candy cane striped mug topped with decadent chocolate frosting and peppermint candy rests in the snowy white landscape to indicate the flavor inside.

Overall Thoughts

Though this packaging doesn’t scream “Christmas” or even “holiday”, its seasonal look can’t be missed in the snow and decadent drink displayed on the label. With this subtle approach, Coffeemate proves that not all limited-edition packaging needs to have an excess of bells and whistles to exude holiday spirit. Instead, their approach to seasonal packaging leverages their signature look to maintain brand recognition with just a taste of winter wonderland.

Day 9: Hershey’s Candy Cane Bar

Our Notes

Hershey’s didn’t stray too far from its iconic simple packaging with their holiday edition Candy Cane bar. The wrapper features a clean, white design with candy cane stripes on both ends to indicate the bar’s peppermint flavor.

Overall Thoughts

Peppermint-flavored everything is everywhere during the holiday season. How is a brand supposed to stand out in all of that minty madness? Hershey’s took the “don’t reinvent the wheel” approach, and we think they made the right choice. By retaining their classic look with the simple addition of candy cane stripes, Hershey’s leveraged the strength of its brand to plow through the clutter.

Day 8: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Joe Joes

Our Notes

We couldn’t stay away from this seasonal treat from Trader Joe’s after hearing rave reviews from a couple of our team members. The box says “Christmas” at first glance with its 2-tone red striped design. It’s dressed up like a gift, as the design features a gold ribbon wrapping around the box. The badge-style logo even acts like a gift tag in a festive, ornamental shape.

Overall Thoughts

First thing’s first, we had to see if these cookies could live up to all of the hype. They definitely do, which posed a bit of a problem. The design has a holiday feel, but it doesn’t reflect the premium quality of the cookies inside. We think a gift-worthy product should have a gift-worthy presentation. Perhaps a cleaner, white design would better highlight the peppermint-y goodness of these decadent, yet refreshing cookies.

Day 7: Old Dutch Tiny Twists Holiday Pretzels

Our Notes

Nothing on this holiday packaging for Old Dutch Pretzels resembles the standard bag. The original blue and yellow design has been replaced by a cheery red and green argyle pattern, complete with snowflakes, and the once blue logo is now red to match. For a finishing touch, the square window has been exchanged for a wreath of holly and berries.

Overall Thoughts

Whether used for dipping in chocolate or stirring into snack mix, pretzels are a holiday snacking staple. So, adopting a festive package design for the season makes sense. But did Old Dutch go too far in this makeover? Though the Old Dutch logo is still recognizable and prominent, we see a fair amount of risk in the drastic departure from their standard bags. Until this holiday design becomes a brand standard in consumers’ minds, Old Dutch could be running the risk of getting lost in the snack aisle.

Day 6: Goldfish Grahams S’mores

Our Notes

This bag of Goldfish Grahams S’mores underwent the biggest holiday makeover of the packages we’ve seen so far. The background has changed to a blend of red to red-orange, and Finn the Goldfish’s camping hat has been replaced by a Santa hat. The blue that normally covers the package is now confined to just 2 ornaments in a snowy landscape. Though we didn’t notice it until we got back to the office, a third (very subtle) red ornament displays the Goldfish logo.

Overall Thoughts

We love to see changes to food packaging for the holidays, and it’s safe to say that kids do too. Perhaps that’s just enough reason to make this seasonal edition worthwhile. Our only complaint here is that the Grahams branding gets lost in all of the holiday cheer. Reducing the amount of blue on the bag makes it difficult to distinguish it amongst the rest of the Goldfish lineup.

Day 5: Trader Joe’s Decked Out Brittle

Our Notes

Another Trader Joe’s find, this Decked Out Brittle is a bit more seasonably dressed than the hot chocolate we found a few days ago. The packaging features some familiar brand assets with an elegant holiday twist. Plus, designed as a hinged-top style box, the product feels giftable. We also noted the “punny” name is an accurate description for this festive brittle filled with nuts, seeds and berries.

Overall Thoughts

The exterior design of this package is simple and elegant—a good amount of holiday style. When we opened up the box we were a little disappointed by the rest of the product experience. Don’t get us wrong—the product itself is tasty. But the box feels very standard, and the interior packaging is just a lack-luster, heavy-duty plastic bag of brittle. We think Trader Joe’s could have decked this packaging out more to align with the perceived value of the product inside. Since this seasonal treat is made with high-quality ingredients, presenting it in a heavier weighted, more substantial box with a tray instead of a bag would be a better fit.

Day 4: Milano Cookies

Our Notes

The festive packaging for Milano cookies couldn’t be ignored as we wandered down the snack aisle. The cookies inside the bag are familiar, but Christmas red replaces the standard purple top of the bag, and trees made of snowflakes line the now-snowy horizon. Snowflakes also fall down the side of the package to continue the seasonal feel.

Overall Thoughts

It’s safe to say cookies are the unofficial dessert of Christmas as they seem to show up in droves throughout the season. To make sure their cookies aren’t forgotten behind grandma’s gingerbread, Pepperidge Farm dressed up its Milanos in holiday cheer. The change makes an already elegant cookie feel more special and jump right into the shopping cart. Santa won’t mind a Milano or 2 mixed into that plate of sugar cookies, right?

Day 3: Trader Joes Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Our Notes

We found this tin of Peppermint Hot Chocolate hiding amongst other holiday goodies in one of the many seasonal displays at Trader Joe’s. Though the design doesn’t exactly exude holiday spirit, the badge-style logo combined with the tin container feels very giftable. Plus, its contents definitely give it a limited-time status.

Overall Thoughts

This product didn’t pop off the shelf for being decked out in candy canes or Christmas trees. Rather, it stood out for its simplicity. The badge-style logo and tin packaging elevate it to feel special, perfect for a little stocking stuffer. Maybe it will even make an appearance at this year’s IN Secret Santa gift exchange.

Day 2: Kemps Skim Milk

Our Notes

While browsing the dairy aisle for the traditional eggnog and festive creamers, we were surprised to stumble upon Christmas packaging in the milk section. Milk is such a staple item that you might not even notice the label change if you’re not looking for it. Here, the grassy fields are replaced by snow, and the Kemps cow is adorned in Santa garb and holding a sign that reads, “Official milk of Santa”.

Overall Thoughts

Because shoppers are accustomed to milk’s color-coding system, a jug of milk has very little flexibility to dress up for Christmas. Kemps had a small window of opportunity and really milked it for all it’s worth by taking ownership as the official milk of Santa. Adding Santa may not have a big impact on holiday sales for this staple grocery item, but it does succeed in making a relevant connection with shoppers.

Day 1: Ritz Crackers

12-07_ritz

Our Notes

At a quick glance, Ritz doesn’t stand out for its limited edition seasonal packaging. Instead, a snowflake-themed box maintains the iconic Ritz Red that we see year-round. We also noted that snowflakes read as “seasonal” rather than “holiday” or “Christmas”.

Overall Thoughts

Retaining the Ritz Red as the core asset ensures familiarity with brand loyalists. Buyers know what they can expect with the bonus of a festive-shaped, entertaining-worthy cracker. Plus, choosing snowflakes versus Santa extends the life of the packaging past Christmas and New Year’s, especially here in MinneSNOWta.