How an innovative French fry manufacturer is helping operators deliver.
French fries are not only a favorite food for delivery, but they are the most eagerly awaited food as well.
“If you are getting delivery, fries are the first thing you smell and the first thing you see when you open up the box,” says Steve Pihl, Senior Brand Manager Potatoes for McCain USA Foodservice. “They are also the first thing eaten. I challenge anyone to resist taking the fries first.”
According to CREST, NPD Group September 2018:
- Dining-out in a restaurant represented 37 percent of all transactions, remaining flat compared to the previous year.
- For the same period, restaurant meals consumed in-home accounted for 32 percent of all traffic, representing an increase of 2 percent over the previous year.
French fries ranked as a favorite food across restaurant segments. French fries, burgers and pizza topped the list of menu items eaten at home when purchased from quick-service restaurants, NPD says. Meanwhile Chinese/Asian/Indian, rice, and French fries represented the three top menu items purchased from full-service restaurants and eaten at home.
Customers who order delivery expect those fries to be crispy when they arrive. “One thing we know is that if consumers had their choice between hot or crispy, they would choose crispy,” Pihl says. More importantly, the fries have to taste good. “The flavor is what makes fries craveable.”
Delivery is a big topic at McCain, Pihl says, and the company is helping operators deliver crisp, delicious fries. There are three factors that affect the desirability of delivery fries: the quality of the fry itself, packaging that carries the fries, and the time it takes to deliver the food.
There are noticeable differences from one fry to another, and every manufacturer has its own recipe. “We’ve put a pretty large focus on takeout and delivery to ensure we’re offering products that will allow our operator customers to be successful,” Pihl says.
McCain responded to operators’ delivery needs by developing SureCrisp, a clear-coated fry that remains crisp. “Fifty seven percent of consumers say ‘quality upon arrival’ is their first consideration when choosing delivery, and consumers say they prefer McCain SureCrisp over other clear-coated fries,” Pihl says. “The fry was perfected to provide the great potato taste that is expected while maintaining the crispness. This is accomplished with using ingredients that come from the potato itself: Starch."
Pihl says McCain did not want to introduce a fry that was wildly different from what customers already love. He adds that SureCrisp works well in dine-in or off-premise venues. “Operators don’t want the complication of having an extra SKU in the freezer.”
Ideally, the operator should package the fries separately from other foods for delivery. The worst thing an operator can do is put different foods, such as a burger and fries, into a clamshell and close the lid. “Moisture is definitely the enemy,” Pihl says.
“No matter what fry you choose, ventilation is going to be key.”
Operators can invest in packaging with vents or add their own vents to packaging to maintain the fries’ crispness. They can also use fry containers layered with paper napkins to further reduce moisture. McCain Foodservice offers packaging tips and videos on https://www.mccainusafoodservice.com/good-to-go. “We offer these tips to help our operators get the most out of their menu while using their current packaging,” Pihl says.
Typical French fries remain crispy for about 10 minutes in a delivery container, but SureCrisp fries stay crisp for up to 30 minutes. The opportunity for operators is that if they serve SureCrisp, they can extend their delivery area to customers who are about 30 minutes away from the restaurants instead of only those who are 10 minutes away. With McCain’s online tool, DeliveReady®, operators can input their business address and view the 10-minute delivery radius for conventional fries, and the 30-minute radius for McCain SureCrisp, so they can see the higher number of households and the revenue potential of serving SureCrisp fries.
“We believe we share the responsibility with operators and delivery companies to exceed guests’ expectations with a crispy fry on arrival,” Pihl says.
Operators who want to offer customers their favorite foods in their own homes know they have to keep pace with the latest innovations in delivery. That means everything from packaging to online tools to high-quality products such as SureCrisp fries.