Somewhere in Japan, I imagine, there is a man or woman or group of men and women who greet each rising sun and hope, with full hearts, that today someone will give them good news about their invention.

They invented that QR (quick-response) code, of course, to track auto parts or something.

Not so long ago in the food and beverage industry, mergers and acquisitions were hot. Go-go CEOs caught M&A fever and dashed to the altar – the promises of strategic and operational windfalls simply too alluring to resist. Due diligence of a target company often was merely the unglamorous rehearsal before the ceremony. Then came the crash of 2008 and, in the M&A world, the fire went out.

The restaurant industry served up record earnings of $632 billion by August of 2012, a 3.5 increase over the same time the previous year, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). Unfortunately, this growth was not spread equally among all operators.

The NRA reported that the general state of the economy made it difficult for many restaurants to build and maintain sales volumes, while wholesale food price inflation reached its highest rate – 8 percent – in 30 years.

Brazil is one of the world’s great emerging economic powers. Experts from Brazil and the United States met recently in Sao Paulo to discuss the unique and important role the South American country plays in the global food system and the challenges that come with it. Hosted by the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI), the conference covered many topics that could impact the food industry in the United States.

The modern, Internet-friendly coffeehouse can trace its existence back to the 15th century in the Ottoman Empire. Since their inception six centuries ago, they have evolved and adapted to their host countries’ cultures. But the essence of the coffeehouse as a place to gather with friends, exchange ideas, talk and relax over a good cup of coffee has remained unperturbed, transcending both time and geography.

Celebrating its fifth year, the annual Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Food & Wine once again welcomed culinary icons, TV chefs and entertainment personalities to the Big Apple. The sister festival of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami Beach, the New York City Festival is the brainchild of Lee Brian Schrager, vice president of corporate communications and national events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America.

The man responsible for T.G.I. Friday’s global growth is Jean Baudrand, vice president of international business development. FAD contributor and food industry consultant Tesla Martinez recently spoke to Baudrand about how his company approaches global markets.

Baudrand’s main bit of advice: “You must do a lot of homework before you can expand your brand internationally!” Here are some of his ideas about how to tackle that homework.

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You might not feel it on a Saturday morning when your restaurant is full of unshaven dads with unruly kids and unshowered teens shambling in just before the cutoff to order a pile of health-defying breakfast food. But your customers are smart – incredibly smart, in fact.

It’s the news that no food company wants to hear: There’s a problem with a product, serious enough to warrant a potential recall. In recent years, a number of companies have been caught flat-footed by this very situation. Among the high-profile examples have been E. coli 0157:H5 in fresh spinach and in hamburger, salmonella in peanuts and a recall of 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen turkey also because of suspected contamination with salmonella.

“Fast food.” Each word on its own is harmless, even positive, but when brought together the phrase conjures a host of controversial and un­pleas­ant images – from the glaring fluorescent lights to greasy meals eaten in the car, meat that might not be meat and milkshakes that definitely aren’t dairy, all the way up to the obesity epidemic. And yet, a new crop of restaurants is emerging that, while providing food quickly, are a far cry from what we think of as fast food.

Photographer Christopher Boffoli has been creating unique dioramas for nearly a decade. His models may be small, but the Seattle-based artist says he hopes his work makes people think about some of society’s big issues, particularly concerning food and consumption.

When companies assess competitive advantages, they tend to look at their position in the marketplace versus the competition, a product or service that presumably offers greater quality and reliability, capacity for growth and, of course, a cost-effective operation. Yet one item that never seems to enter the long list of positives is employee training.

When we become so engrossed in meeting our direct customers’ needs, we forget who runs the show – the consumer. The relationship between companies and consumers is not unlike a pair of love-struck teenagers. Although dogged in its pursuit, the company doesn’t quite understand why the consumer plays hard-to-get. Meanwhile, the consumer just wants to find a company it can trust, and until then, will continue playing the field. 

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