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How Important to are Environmental Certifications, like Arooga's being a Certified Green Restaurant to the restaurant crowd, do you think?

Do guests care about a restaurant being Certified Green? Or, is it just a Marketing gimmick?

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If you are Ready-2-Eat, then there is a very good chance you are looking for Grocerant meal components.  Heat-N-eat and Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food with portability is driving retail food success in 2012.

As long as multi-generational family's gather for meals together, the demand for a more divergent flavors continues to permeate.

Grocerant mix and match bundled meal component offerings allow for increased family integration, understanding and acceptance in less time without a required cook from scratch skill set.

In the 1940's cooking from scratch was the normal.  The average home cooked meal took 150 minutes to prepare. Everyone sat down at the table and enjoyed it or not but they all ate the same thing.  Today's "home cooked meal" takes on average less than 30 minutes to prepared. But, in most cases at least two different entrées are served.

The average time spent inside a McDonalds in the 2,000 was 11 minutes. Today 65+ percent of all McDonald's food is sold via the drive-thru. U.S. fast-food chains are increasingly remodeling restaurants in an effort to garner additional drive-thru customers inside and increase sales because the drive-thru can't hold all the cars.

According to an article in the New York Times magazine, McDonald's Corp. saw a 50% increase in sales during the first quarter after opening a remodeled restaurant in Riverside, California, that features a new décor, solar panels on the carport, and ceiling panels that contain L.E.D. lights. During the first 12 months, sales at this restaurant increased 20% overall.

Walgreens is creating and bundling distinctive differentiated food consumable's as an entity with identity by day part in a mix and match meal component format in select urban setting targeted at both the office worker for lunch and meal components for them to take home for the family dinner. It is a successful program.

The grocerant niche continues to grow with companies like Central Market, Whole Foods, Wegmans and 7 Eleven entering the fresh prepared better for you space.   

Meal time is now becoming a time of convenient meal participation, with differentiation and individualization for the entire family.

More often than not the multi-generational family today is multi-ethnic as well.  Creating a demand for more varied flavors and additional cooking skill set that is simply not there.  Grocery stores, Convenience Stores, Restaurants and Chain Drug Stores are all selling ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food. Is your focus family dining? 

Are you selling meals or meal components for Take-Out, delivery or Take-Away?


Being forced to buy imaginary products is just one of the nonsensical results of government policy affecting franchisors and franchisees.

A South Park episode captured the sanctimonious aspect of environmentalism, but even they could not have imagined some actual government mandates now burdening petroleum franchisees.

The admirable desire to address the negative impact of fossil fuels led to issuance of federal renewable fuel standards (RFS), under which "obligated parties" (including petroleum franchisor-producers) have a "renewable volume obligation" (RVO). One obligation is for a percentage of product to be cellulistic biofuels.

Since there is no commercial production of cellulosic biofuels, the companies have to "buy" the product from the Environmental Protection Agency. Of course, the EPA doesn't make fuel, and so the companies are paying for a nonexistent product--at a cost last year of $6.8M in 2011, with RFS mandated annual increases in of 100% in 2012 and 2013. Nobody knows how much (if any) cellulosic fuel will be produced and so the final cost to "buyers" is unknown.

A more logical mandate is far more threatening to franchisees: the RFS effectively push the production of corn-based ethanol fuels, but the 10% ethanol (E10) market is saturated and the slowing economy has reduced the demand for energy (including ethanol).

This saturation is dubbed "hitting the ethanol blend wall" and the obvious solution (increasing the ethanol percentage or going to alternatives such as biodiesel) is expensive and risky for franchisors and franchisees.

Many of the alternatives require the retail franchisee to install new (or retrofitted) gas pumps, at a cost averaging in excess of $250K per station.

In addition, franchisees who have sought to retrofit pumps discovered that Underwriter Laboratories will not certify the pumps, resulting in legal liability, insurance coverage issues, and violations of municipality fire codes.

A speaker at the recent ABA Petroleum Marketing Attorney's Meeting expressed frustration at being caught in the middle.

Chemical Engineer Scott Jensen noted that "the cellulostic fuel industry is at a crawl. They need to be sprinting to meet [RFS] requirements."

Jensen turned to the existing E85 fuel and began with the observation that E85 can only be used in "flex-fuel" vehicles which only account for 6% of domestic vehicles on the road.

Drawing on the experience with E85, Jensen said that consumers quickly figured out that E85 gives 25% less energy and hence is more costly than E10 despite the lower (subsidized) price of E85.

Biodiesel fuel



Federal officials and environmentalists are pushing for a rise in regular gasoline ethanol content from 10% (E10) to 15% (E15), but this is going to be very expensive and fraught with liability issues.

The difficulty to start with is that only 2001+ model vehicles can use E15, and that is only half the vehicles on the road today.

E15 misfueling is expected to be a significant problem. The EPA has approved an E15 sticker which looks like a warning label and therefore expected to engender consumer resistance to E15.

Also an issue is whether vehicle warranties will be honored once the owner uses E15 fuel; and franchisors are expected to prohibit franchisees from selling E15 unless this issue is resolved.

Biodiesel is highly-touted since it can be made from sources ranging from restaurant grease to canola oil. Proponents of biodiesel gloss over the obvious problem: the nature (and hence quality) of the end-product is highly dependent on both the source material and the expertise of the blender.

Jensen analyzed the experience of Minnesota, where school buses famously stopped dead in the winter as the fuel coagulated in the engine.

Jensen also noted that some independent marketers "splash blend" the fuel.

This means that  they put petroleum diesel into the delivery tanker, then dumped in the biodiesel feedstock, and relied on the mixture sloshing together in the tanker as it drove to the retail gas station!

Jensen concluded by observing that while the goals are worthy and the legislators and regulators mean well, the current RFS standards are a "wish list" that are imposing significant costs on petroleum refiners and retail dealers, which negatively impact not only the petroleum industry but the US economy.

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