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Tag Archives: Food & Beverage

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What if labor shortage is a long-term threat to the hospitality and tourism industry?

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The U.S. economy finally shows signs of a strong recovery from the pandemic. Nevertheless, the surging delta variant cases, inflation, and the global supply chain disruption, among other concerns, add considerable uncertainty to the economic outlook.

Notably, the hospitality and tourism industry is unlikely to recover any time soon. On the one hand, there is no real sense of recovery until people are traveling for business again. Yet, more companies have postponed the return-to-office plan and let employees continue working from home. On the other hand, the industry is facing an extreme labor shortage that slows down its recovery.

A restaurant shut down after the entire staff quit

Last week, a burrito chain restaurant in Georgia was forced to shut down because its entire staff quit. The staff put a sign in the front of the restaurant, saying that they had worked seven days a week for a month. They barely had any time off. Eventually, they quit due to being underpaid and a lack of appreciation.

Most likely, the restaurant was short-staffed and overworked the associates. When workers felt burnout at work but received no recognition or appreciation, they fired the employer. Having the staff work overtime is not the solution to the labor shortage issue.

How big is the labor-shortage gap?

In July, the U.S. recorded 10.9 million openings, but there were only 8.7 million unemployed workers in the market. In other words, the market will still have 2.1 million unfillable vacancies even after all 8.7 million unemployed workers have taken a job offer. Moreover, every industry reported more job openings in July 2021 than at the pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

A labor shortage does not seem to be a short-term threat to the hospitality and tourism industry

Jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry are demanding and typically known for irregular and long working hours. Still, workers in this sector usually earn minimum wages. Moreover, the frontline employees are expected to provide exceptional customer service even when they find themselves exposed to an abusive situation by “uncivilized” consumers. It is not surprising to see that some hospitality workers who were laid off or furloughed during the pandemic would have moved to other sectors. Plus, people might have formed different perspectives of family, life, and work after the pandemic.

Now that almost every industry is facing a challenge to fill the vacancies, businesses across the board have increased wages and offer sign-on bonuses to lure workers. A local bus company in Connecticut, for example, is now offering a $7,000 signing bonus for school bus drivers. Because the customer service skills built up in hotels or restaurants are highly transferable, why wouldn’t the hospitality workers consider the ample attractive opportunities in the market?

Hospitality workers are leaving the industry

A recent survey with about 13,000 job seekers by Joblist, an employment-search engine, reveals a few alarming challenges facing the hospitality and tourism industry. For example:

  • Over 50% of U.S. hospitality workers would not go back to their old jobs.
  • Above 1/3 would not even consider returning to the industry.

When they were asked the reasons why they were switching to other industries, they cited the following:

  • Different work setting (52%)
  • Higher pay (45%)
  • Better benefits (29%)
  • More schedule flexibility (19%)
  • Remote work opportunities (16%)

What can be done in the hospitality and tourism industry to address the labor shortage?

First and foremost, companies should listen to the workers and see what they want and dislike about their jobs. Referring to the above Joblist survey results as an example, it is good that many hospitality companies have already increased wages and benefits for their employees.

Then, it is unrealistic to expect hospitality companies to let all frontline employees provide customer service remotely while staying at home. Yet, companies may consider redesigning the existing job functions by creating a “fun” work environment and offering flexible schedules.

Lastly, it is essential to restructure the service process with as much automatic service as possible. The time has come when automatic self-service is more acceptable among consumers. Plus, machines might just be an excellent solution to the labor shortage and soaring labor costs.

Are people in luck if they are looking for a career opportunity in the hospitality and tourism industry?

Probably. The work-from-home and flexible work schedule have made it easier for workers to arrange a job interview. Job candidates might also be in a better position now when negotiating the terms with a prospective employer.

Meanwhile, it is crucial to acquire the skills needed in the future work environment. People are expected to work side-by-side with machines to deliver exceptional outputs at work.

In the end, I recommend that people who want to quit their jobs right now consider if they have already secured a better or equivalent offer from another employer. It is wise to have a job while looking for a job, in my opinion.

Do you believe labor shortage is a short-term issue or a long-term threat to the hospitality and tourism industry? Why? What suggestions will you make for businesses to cope with such a challenge?

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Restaurants are re-prioritizing the takeout experience for a post-pandemic world

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Restaurants, like just about every other industry, saw their business uprooted by the coronavirus pandemic. Gone were the days of indoor dining and endless lineups for weekend brunch. Instead, takeout and delivery apps emerged as the only way to survive. Now, as mass vaccinations and re-openings are assisting with a return to normal, diners are used to the habits they picked up over the last 18 months. As such, restaurants are quickly shifting their operations for the post-pandemic diner.

Before the pandemic, IHOP was planning on launching Flip’d by IHOP, an on-the-go small format store for those who don’t have time to sit down and enjoy their famous pancakes.

Jay Johns, President of IHOP, said in a press release that since announcing Flip’d in 2019, a lot has changed, and that their takeout concept has since evolved to meet diners’ needs. “While we know there is a pent-up demand for a return to dining in restaurants, we anticipate that our delivery and takeout business is here to stay as consumer needs continue to shift and they seek out different ways to experience IHOP favorites.”

The company is more prepared than ever as the pandemic has created a further push for a takeout model. Diners will be able to order from digital kiosks for a truly contactless experience when the premise rolls out later this year.

IHOP is also looking at expanding their loyalty program, which has grown since the pandemic began, with over 50% of consumers looking to register, in order to receive free pancakes and other special offers.

They aren’t the only chain looking to revitalize their loyalty programs to keep customers coming back – Chipotle and Taco Bell have noticed an increase of 25-35% in business since introducing a loyalty program, and McDonald’s is looking to revamp their program as well.

The Golden Arches has hired a customer experience team as they look to refresh how diners interact with the fast-food chain.

The company plans to bolster their digital, delivery, and drive-thru operations. While the three concepts weren’t exactly new when the coronavirus took hold, over the past year, they’ve become paramount for the company moving forward. Plans are in place to pilot voice-ordering technology at 10 Chicago locations, and to reduce drive-thru wait times by 30 seconds per car.

Additionally, the MyMcDonald’s loyalty program continues to roll out nation-wide. Already boasting 40 million users in six markets, the future is bright. McDonald’s digital sales have grown by 70% since the beginning of the pandemic, so perfecting a seamless digital experience has been a top priority for their team.

Drive-thrus have fared well during the pandemic, offering safety and convenience, and the demand for on-the-go dining is here to stay. The level of convenience has allowed quick-service operators to boost sales, and allow for more business in smaller storefronts. And believe it or not, they too continue to evolve.

What does the future hold for drive-thru? Sure, technology and contactless ordering/payments play an important role for the fast-food consumer in 2021. But Taco Bell has just introduced a supersized drive-thru of the future, set for launch in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Boasting four lanes, three of which will be devoted to mobile orders, hungry diners will scan a QR code when picking up their food. Food will be delivered via an elevated kitchen using a proprietary lift system, and will employ two-way audio and video technology so drivers and employees are still able to interact. It makes your local drive-thru seem a little archaic, doesn’t it?

Consumer behavior has shifted greatly since March 2020, and ultimately, restaurants have responded. While “the restaurant of the future” was often discussed, the coronavirus pandemic forced restaurateurs to truly adopt those futuristic practices. With a focus on improving the customer experience, bolstering loyalty programs, and revitalizing the drive-thru experience, quick-service restaurants are setting themselves up for success now, and in the post-COVID world.

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6 unsung American wine regions

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Blessed with a climate ideal for viticulture and a long legacy of winemaking, California leads all other states with nearly 3,500 wineries. Spanish missionaries brought along vines as well as Bibles when they established a chain of 21 missions from San Diego to San Francisco in the late 1700s.

The rest is history. Golden State wineries currently bottle almost 85% of the roughly 900 million gallons of wine currently produced in the U.S. each year.

The entire world knows about the Napa and Sonoma Valleys — the nation’s premier wine growing regions — swarmed by millions of oenophiles annually. That’s why we are not taking you there in this report, suggesting instead some lesser-known wine regions in places you might not expect to find them. Here are six examples.

Verde Valley, Arizona

Picturing a typical Arizona landscape, you might envision a desert scene scattered with saguaro and saltbush — not Sauvignon and Syrah, right?

Countering stereotypical impressions of the Grand Canyon State’s flora, northern Arizona’s Verde Valley is a flourishing wine producing region, a verdant vale stretching 20 miles along the Verde River from Sedona to Cottonwood.

The valley’s bountiful sunshine and dramatic evening cool-downs match with a rich volcanic soil to create an ideal environment for varietals such as Syrah, Petite Syrah, Viognier, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Four producing wineries — Alcantara Vineyards, Page Springs Cellars, Oak Creek Vineyards and Javelina Leap Vineyards — welcome guests to tasting rooms and in some cases tours. Plus, there are several tasting rooms in the towns of Jerome and Cottonwood.

San Diego, California

This sunny Southern California city probably isn’t on the radars of most wine-seekers. But venture inland about an hour to the mountain town of Julian and you’ll find more than a half-dozen boutique wineries, some with tasting rooms.

A pair of vintners — Volcan Mountain Vineyards and Menghini Winery — have charming tasting rooms to sample Viognier, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and more. Orfila Vineyards & Winery is known for its French and Italian varietals, set amid vine-covered hillsides in nearby Escondido.

Julian also is home to a number of apple orchards, much of the fruit from which ends up as scrumptious apple pies, served daily at the Julian Pie Company and Mom’s Pie House.

Texas Hill Country

Texas’ scenic Hill Country — just north of San Antonio and west of Austin — is the surprising home of more than 50 vineyards conveniently organized along the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail. The epicenter of it all is Fredericksburg, a town settled by German immigrants in 1846 and traditionally more popular for its Bavarian cuisine than its wine. Visitors can enjoy the best of both worlds with visits to some of Fredericksburg’s two dozen tasting rooms, topped off with a platter of wienerschnitzel at The Ausländer German restaurant.

Top wineries here include Becker Vineyards, known for its Malbec, Petite Sirah and award-winning Prairie Rotie, and Grape Creek Vineyards with its Tuscany-inspired architecture and highly regarded Pinot Grigio. Others meriting a visit include Pedernales Cellars, Woodrose Winery and Lost Draw Cellars.

Newport/Bristol Counties, Rhode Island

Some of the finest wineries along New England’s emerging Coastal Wine Trail can be found nestled along the shore in Newport and Bristol Counties. Three in particular — Newport Vineyards, Greenvale Vineyards and Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard — consistently produce award-winning wines.

Founded in 1977, Newport Vineyards is the largest grower of grapes in New England, producing more than 30,000 cases of estate-grown wine each year. Situated just minutes from Newport’s famous mansion row, this winery is a popular beverage and culinary destination that blends fine wine and farm to table dining experiences.

Greenvale Vineyards in nearby Portsmouth is noted for its estate-grown Chardonnays and classic Cabernet Franc, brilliantly blended with Merlot and Malbec. Visitors are treated to a garden-like waterfront tasting/picnic area.

Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard may be the classiest of the Newport area wineries. It was founded in 1975 and claims to be New England’s oldest winery. Covering 150 acres along the Sakonnet River and with 30+ acres currently under cultivation, Carolyn’s produces 19 different wines including prize winning Chardonnays and bold red blends utilizing Cabernet Franc, Lemberger and Merlot grapes.

Long Island, New York

The Hamptons, on the South Fork of eastern Long Island, may get all the hype — but for wine lovers, the North Fork is the place to be. Situated just a couple of hours from the Big Apple, the region boasts so many wineries (35) that they’ve established the North Fork Wine Trail to help guide visitors.

The trail meanders from Jamesport through Mattituck and Cutchogue to Greenport. Merlot is king here, but other leading varietals are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Vineyards not to be missed include Lenz Winery, Bedell Cellars and Lieb Cellars. Best to visit midweek from April-November to avoid traffic.

Louden County, Virginia

The bucolic countryside of Loudon County, where horse farms share space with some 40 wineries, makes an ideal base for wine-tasting day trips in the shadow of the nation’s capital. Enjoy a tasting session at environmentally focused Sunset Hills Vineyard, where solar panels power an 1870 barn converted to a tasting room serving a mix of Rosé, Cabernet Franc and several red blends.

Breaux Vineyards features 17 grape varietals and a charming French Quarter-style tasting room. Stone Tower Winery features panoramic views of its scenic 300 acres from a stunning mountaintop tasting room where visitors can sample prize-winning Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Another Virginia winery making waves is Chrysalis Vineyards, home to the largest planting in the world of America’s oldest native red grape — the Norton varietal.

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Iodine: The forgotten ‘cure-all’ mineral

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Iodine was once considered the “cure-all” mineral. Health professionals recommended it for a multitude of issues – from healing wounds and diseases to destroying bacteria and viruses, even preventing cancer.

Since the decline of recommended iodine from health professionals, there has been a significant increase in higher rates of cancer, thyroid dysfunction, and crucial amounts of toxin buildup in our systems. The amount of iodine once found in table salt and breads have either been reduced or replaced with other (often harmful) chemicals. Sadly, up to one-third of people worldwide are at risk of an iodine deficiency.1,2,3

Most of us are unaware of how iodine functions in our body and how a serious lack of it causes ailing symptoms that mimic other health issues. The result: overmedication and never treating the root issue. Fortunately, many integrative medical practitioners and other holistic-thinking individuals are bringing iodine back as a key part of daily nutrient intake.

What is iodine?

Iodine is a mineral found in some foods. The body needs iodine but is unable to produce it. Iodine is mainly found in iodized salt, but as a rule, there is very little iodine in food, unless it has been added during processing.

Why iodine?

Getting sufficient amounts of iodine is important for our bodies to function optimally, particularly, for the thyroid gland. Every cell in our body depends on the thyroid to produce hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate, and iodine is a crucial nutrient for its production. Without it, all systems in the body cause the thyroid to work harder. When this happens, it can wreak havoc on our bodies and symptoms of thyroid disfunction will start showing themselves – sometimes in the form of serious diseases, and other times, as symptoms of “seemingly” more common health ailments.

Thyroid dysfunction

Hypothyroidism – low thyroid function or an underactive thyroid is one of the most obvious signs of iodine deficiency. The opposite – hyperthyroidism – is an overactive thyroid, in which the gland is overloaded with hormones. Both types can show up as a multitude of symptoms, ailments or diseases4, including:

  • Autoimmune thyroid disease
    • These can include Hashimoto’s and Gravies’ diseases. Both of these diseases can cause a flux of hypo- and hyper-thyroid. The most recognized form of iodine deficiency in hypothyroidism is goiter (enlarged thyroid).
  • Low metabolism
    • Metabolism is the process where the body converts glucose into biological energy. When thyroid hormones get low, the body has less efficiency at burning calories. This can show up as symptoms of low energy, struggle with weight control, swelling (water retention), digestive issues, food cravings – and all of these can lead to obesity.
  • Brain disorders
    • Mental retardation and cretinism, mainly in infants as the mother’s did not get enough iodine during pregnancy.
    • Autism, ADHD, depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
    • Cognitive issues, such as “foggy” brain and poor memory.
  • Immune system
    • Joint and muscle pain, such as fibromyalgia and chronic and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), which can include muscle pain, joint pain and profound fatigue.
  • Diabetes and heart disease (many times go hand-in-hand)
    • Insulin and cholesterol issues. Iodine can improve blood glucose control.
  • Allergies, asthma, lung disease
    • Low iodine levels can cause thicker bronchial secretions.
  • Female and male organ health
    • Reproductive disorders, breast diseases and prostate issues.
  • Different forms of cancer
    • Breast, prostate, ovarian, thyroid and gastrointestinal, to name a few.

As you can see from this considerable list of medical conditions, it is quite possible that inadequate levels of iodine in our system can mimic some more serious ailments. It would seem to make sense to have our iodine levels measured right along with typical blood work – though it’s rarely done. You can ask your health care professional or nutritionist to run a test via urine or blood testing. There is also an easy way to measure your own iodine levels using the Basal Body Temperature5 method.

Why iodine is rarely recommended as supplemental treatment?

Iodine has largely been forgotten by many pharmaceuticals and physicians in America today. Before widespread synthetic drugs and antibiotics, iodine was used for almost everything from healing wounds and diseases to destroying bacteria and viruses. In the 1940s, when antibiotics came into play as the treatment for most conditions, iodine therapy generally vanished as the popular medical prescription.6 Some therapeutic treatments of iodine are antibacterial, anticancer, antiviral, antimicrobial, parasitic, and to elevate the body’s pH to healthy alkaline levels. 6,7

Where can we get iodine?

Most of the world’s iodine is found in the ocean, where it is concentrated by sea life, especially seaweed and in stones near the sea. For many of us that live in “iodine deficient” regions, a diet consisting of certain sea foods and a variety of dairy products, as well as iodized salt, can provide a moderate amount of iodine, however, to obtain optimal levels of iodine, a supplement may be considered. For further information, you can review this fact sheet from National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Sources8,9

[1] Ramas, R. November 11, 2017. 10 Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency.Retrieved online:10 Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency (healthline.com)

2 Biban, B. and Lichiardopol, C. June 29, 2017. Iodine Deficiency, Still a Global Problem? Retrieved online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6284174/ (National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI))

3 Benoist, B., Anderson, M., Takkouche, B. and Egli, I. November 29, 2003. Prevalence of Iodine Deficiency Worldwide. Retrieved online: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(03)14920-3/fulltext#back-bib3 (The Lancet)

4 To Your Health Books, Copyright 2015.“What Doctors Fail to Tell You About Iodine & Your Thyroid,” by Dr. Robert Thompson.

5 Pedagogy Education. How to Take a Basa Body Temperature. Retrieved online: https://www.pedagogyeducation.com/Infusion-Campus/Resource-Library/General/How-to-Take-a-Basal-Body-Temperature.aspx(Pedagogy)

6 1948.“The Wolff-Chaikoff Effect” is a study published in Bekeley, which claims that daily doses of iodine over 0.2mg/L will cause hypothyroidism in humans. Researched online: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11396709/ (PubMed.gov) and https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/105072501300176462 (Mary Ann Liebert)

7 McGehee, F. June 3, 2015. Iodine Insufficiency in America: The Neglected Pandemic Retrieved online: https://www.acam.org/blogpost/1092863/216472/Iodine-Insufficiency-in-America-The-Neglected-Pandemic(American College for Advancement in Medicine)

8 Press Release. October 1, 1998 . https://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/ad981001.htm(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

9No date. Retrieved online:https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-35/iodine (WebMD)

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Reopening roadblocks: How your equipment can bridge the gap

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With much of the country open again, the summer of reconnection is in full swing – complete with family cookouts, long-awaited dinners with friends, and an overall resurgence of in-person shopping and dining. Yet, as vaccine distribution continues to climb and many states lift COVID-related restrictions, the food industry finds itself facing full reopening just as it encounters a number of post-pandemic road blocks. For some organizations, food service concerns are just now coming to light after being long overshadowed by bigger challenges. Rapidly shifting consumer behavior has seen restaurants relying on outside delivery services and facing an industry wide labor shortage. And a disrupted supply chain has impacted everyone from farmers to grocers.

For leaders in the food industry, it seems, the steady return to normalcy is simply a transition to a new state of uncertainty. As you prepare for widespread reopening, you’re likely wondering how to tackle these new challenges while staying focused on recovering revenue and keeping up with demand. A big part of the answer lies in what you’re keeping behind the counter.

Six ways your equipment can bridge the gap

A critical factor in overcoming these new and potentially long-lasting challenges is one that may not have been on your mind much since the start of the pandemic: your equipment. Whether you’re returning to serving eat-in customers, juggling delivery and retail, preparing a cafeteria for reopening, or struggling to maintain the staff to keep up with an influx of customers, your business relies on the tools you use to prepare, serve and package food. There’s a big difference between equipment that just works and equipment that really works for you. As 42% of food service businesses struggle to fill open jobs, there are six key ways that machinery and technology can bridge the gaps you may face between staffing and demand:

  • Less Labor: When hiring is its own challenge, the strategic streamlining of labor becomes a necessary solution. The right equipment can help by automating repetitive manual tasks, allowing employees to spend less time on menial work and more time on things that have a deeper impact on customer service. It also allows you to focus hiring efforts on things that can help your business grow, creating new roles that are higher paying and more skilled. When your equipment can automate grab-n-go wrapping or inventory tracking, for example, your employees can focus on maintaining the impeccable quality control that the post-pandemic public will demand.
  • Faster Training: Proper training is absolutely vital to the safety and efficiency of your business; it also costs both time and money, which can be drastically reduced when you’re trying to get new staff onto the floor as quickly as possible. Making training quick and simple should be a top priority as consumers remain focused on safety and businesses and organizations work to find and train much-needed new staff. User-friendly interfaces, automatic features, and built-in support can all reduce training time, which means that you can get new employees working more quickly or train current employees on new tools in less time. Consider how the training your equipment requires (or the training your team lacks) impacts productivity.
  • Reduced Downtime: It doesn’t take a lot of downtime to cause a major problem, especially if you’re already balancing a skeleton staff with steadily increasing customers. Temporary closures, distancing guidelines, and budget concerns may mean that your equipment has had reduced use or maintenance, which could mean an increased risk of downtime. Making sure your equipment is in working order is a must — but taking the extra step of preventative maintenance now can also save time you can’t afford to lose later.
  • Improved Safety: While the peak of pandemic precautions may be in the rearview mirror, safety is still of paramount importance to consumers. Aside from making sure everyone on staff knows the correct procedures for cleaning equipment, you can invest in equipment that makes it easier — or better yet, automatic. Look for equipment with auto-clean features, as well as equipment like hot and cold deli merchandisers that ensure products are always being held at a safe temperature, which are a great safety-first option for groceries, convenience stores, and even restaurants.
  • Increased Efficiency: During the pandemic, social distancing put technology at the forefront of so much of daily life, particularly in the food industry. Retailers, restaurants and consumers alike found paths to recovering revenue and regaining stability through apps and the internet. While some consumers will happily continue to shop and dine through services like GrubHub, UberEats, and more, others are already eagerly returning to life-in-person. As they do, equipment can be the key to keeping efficiency high even if labor is short by automating things like wrapping, merchandising, and more.
  • Additional Revenue: The right piece of equipment can allow you to bring new offerings to customers — and new revenue to your business. Getting the best return on your investment is all about creating an offering that drives sales without significantly increasing labor. For a convenience store, it may be a rotisserie that allows them to provide new hot food offerings; for grocers, a smoker set up in the parking lot can be a great way to pull in new customers and give existing ones a new hot food option.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead

Evolution and adaptation are nothing new for the food industry; after three generations serving the full spectrum of food service businesses, our family has watched as restaurants, grocers, hospitality companies, and others have successfully navigated everything from economic recessions to rapidly shifting consumer sensibilities. Whatever challenges the industry faces, food consistently remains a symbol and source of comfort and togetherness. With the public craving both more than ever, a strategic approach — not just to your business, but to your equipment — can turn the summer of reconnection into one of vast opportunity as well.

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Infographic: The rise of the ready-to-drink cocktail market

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Whether we’re suffering through a pandemic, celebrating the best moments of our lives, or simply sharing some serious couch time with a glass of pinot and our favorite book, alcoholic beverages are here to walk through all of life’s moments with us, and 2020 was certainly no exception.

2020 was the year of misery, isolation, and unforeseen circumstances. It was the year that brought us the dreaded “new normal,” but also (and not surprisingly) the year that increased our thirst for our favorite adult beverages, and even expanded our horizons to create and embrace newer cocktails, such as the “Quarantini” and the ready-to-drink cocktail.

As we all were forced to become our own bartenders last year, 44% of Americans began purchasing alcohol online, and purchases of ready-to-drink cocktails grew by 43% worldwide. It’s awesome that COVID at least gave us some tasty new drinks, such as the “Charmin Quarantini,” but sometimes it’s even better to be able to just grab the drink and relax, without all the prep, mixing, and cleanup. Ready-to-drink gives us the perks of a “bartender” doing all the work from the comfort of our own homes.

These drinks may have risen in popularity due to our collision with calamity, but unlike quarantine mandates, ready-to-drink cocktails are here to stay.

Infographic courtesy Cooloo.com

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Why is it important to raise awareness about saving the bee population?

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The value of protecting our bees was brought to the world’s attention in 2009. Greenpeace spearheaded the effort, and the effects of losing these little buddies were made public. However, interest in this important cause has recently waned. According to Google Trends, saving the bees has been the least prominent search word in the last five years out of all the environmental problems affecting our world. We have to keep saving the bees.

Honeybees pollinate about 80% of plants on the globe. Every day, a single bee colony will pollinate 300 million flowers. The wind mainly does pollination of grains, but bees pollinate bananas, berries, and vegetables. Bees pollinate 70 of the top 100 human food crops, which account for about 90% of global nutrition.

Bees are important and efficient pollinators because of their ability to carry vast quantities of pollen grains on their hairy bodies, their reliance on floral support, and their semi-social or eusocial traits.

Why are the bees dying and why is this important?

The disappearance of bee colonies around the world is not as enigmatic as the pesticide industry says. The answer to this question is complicated but not impossible to figure out. Pesticides, drought, habitat loss, nutrient deficiency, air pollution, global warming, and other causes are known to kill bees. Many of these variables are related. In the end, we know that humans are primarily to blame for two of the most significant causes: toxins and habitat destruction.

In the summer, worker bees (females) live for only six weeks, and in the winter, they live for several months. In the spring and summer, colonies continually develop new worker bees, but reproduction slows during the winter. A beehive or colony will typically lose 5-10% of its bees during the winter and replace them during spring. In a bad year, a bee colony can lose 15-20% of its bees.

So, why are bees important to us? Simply put, humans would not exist without bees. All species may be affected. Pollination of our flora is dependent on bees. Crops cannot grow without it. There is simply no food for us without crops. When livestock has no fodder, their meat supply will quickly dwindle.

Some farmers may employ artificial pollination methods, ranging from carefully applying pollen with paintbrushes to using robot bee drones designed to do so. Although this is good news for us, it isn’t long-term. A bee’s normal life cycle and essential function clearly cannot be duplicated.

Coronavirus lockdowns keep bees at home

Pollinator restrictions could harm crops, putting more strain on a food chain already strained by war, climate change, and the coronavirus pandemic. Bees are being affected by the same coronavirus constraints that keep producers out of fields and distributors out of markets.

Since there aren’t enough local bees to pollinate crops in big, food-exporting countries like the United States and China, beekeepers move hives thousands of kilometers to pollinate fields. Travel restrictions to combat the coronavirus are now harming the pollination industry by keeping bees at home.

Pesticides and bees

These are chemicals that kill pests. They help to get rid of insects and rodents. Unfortunately, honeybees are insects, and insecticides have a devastating effect on their populations.

Insecticides can kill honeybees in several ways. One way is by the insecticide coming into close contact with the bee while it is foraging in the field. The bee dies straight away and never returns to the hive. The queen, brood, and nurse bees are not infected in this situation, and the colony survives.

Save the bees

The world’s bees can be revived and preserved by common-sense behavior. Governments should ban the seven most toxic pesticides. Pollinator protection can be safeguarded by protecting natural habitat. Ecological farming is a significant new policy movement that seeks to stabilize human food supply while simultaneously protecting wild ecosystems and bees.

Bhutan is the first country in the world to implement a 100% organic farming program. To preserve its natural corn varieties, Mexico has banned genetically modified corn. Eight European countries have outlawed genetically modified foods, and Hungary has destroyed over 1,000 acres of corn polluted with GMOs.

Over the last two decades, Vandana Shiva and a network of small farmers in India have developed an organic farming resistance to industrial agriculture.

Organic, sustainable farming is not a modern phenomenon. Throughout human history, this has been the most popular method of farming. By avoiding large monocrops and maintaining habitat diversity, ecological farming reduces insect damage. Ecological cultivation uses natural composting systems to replenish soil nutrients, prevents soil degradation due to wind and water erosion, and avoids pesticides and artificial fertilizers.

Ecological agriculture improves pollination, which enhances crop yields by increasing bee colonies and making them healthier.

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Study: How job seekers’ social media profiles affect employability

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Social media plays an increasingly important role in recruitment and employee selection. Recruiters are tempted to check on job candidates’ social media profiles (SMPs) because SMPs could reveal more dynamic information about the candidates than resumes alone.

By checking the candidates’ SMPs, recruiters can discover their real personalities, which cannot be easily achieved even through job interviews. Meanwhile, hiring managers can also assess job candidates’ social capital based on the size and the composition of their social networks.

The study

To investigate how social media may affect recruiters’ hiring decisions, Antonio Muñiz, who graduated from the master’s program at the Collins College of Hospitality Management, Cal Poly Pomona, and I conducted a qualitative study together. We published our work in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management. This research answers:

Two research questions

  1. What information or job candidates’ personality traits revealed on their SMPs gets the hiring managers’ attention?
  2. How do such pieces of information or job candidates’ personality traits revealed on their SMPs affect managers’ hiring decisions?

The research method

We conducted 11 semi-structured interviews in 2018 with 11 managers in major hospitality companies, representing the restaurant, hotel, country club, even planning, and managed foodservice sectors. On average, these 11 managers had 19 years of work experience in the hospitality industry. They made hiring decisions, ranging from hiring two to 18 candidates a month.

Following the suggestions of ensuring a qualitative study’s trustworthiness, we firstly recorded and transcribed the interviews. We then performed a content analysis of the qualitative data. Finally, we reported the narrative results with direct quotes from the informants.

Finding 1: The recruiting channels and legal considerations

The informants rated Indeed and LinkedIn the preferred websites for recruitment and selection. Surprisingly, none of them were aware of any policies issued by their companies about using social media in screening and selection. Many informants also held reservations about using social media in screening because of privacy concerns, the uncertainty of the information revealed from the candidates’ SMPs, legal compliance, and time constraints.

Finding 2: LinkedIn is the preferred platform

About half of the informants used LinkedIn in screening. Only one informant admitted that s/he screened candidates’ other SMPs besides LinkedIn. That is, s/he also looked at candidates’ posts, videos, and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Finding 3: Preferable content on social media

Most informants favored pictures about food, catering, and events, news articles, and organizational social activities. Having a clear headshot/smiling, professional/appropriate content, positive/motivational content, and activities in general were mentioned once or twice only.

Finding 4: Unfavorable content on social media

Inappropriate language or content, negative posts, personal information on LinkedIn, and anything discriminatory came to the top.

Finding 5: Influential traits that may affect recruiters’ hiring decisions

Of the Big Five personality traits, hospitality managers looked for extroversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. Additionally, leadership potentials, professionalism, a good match, the current position held, as well as skills and endorsements, can be influential.

Finding 6: How candidates’ SMPs affect employability

Unfavorable content seemed to have a more substantial influence than the favorable content. As far as a candidate’s starting salary is concerned, the informants only factored in the candidates’ skills and experience.

The implications

Besides the research’s theoretical contributions, the findings provide helpful, practical implications for businesses, hiring managers, job seekers, and career counselors. We recommend:

  • Organizations should develop clear guidelines about using social media in recruitment and selection.
  • For a minimum, organizations must provide guidelines or assessment rubrics that are specific to LinkedIn.
  • Hiring managers are advised to follow the company’s guidelines and policies if provided.
  • Hiring managers need to justify why and how SMPs are used in screening if no guidelines or policies are provided.
  • Job seekers are highly encouraged to build a complete LinkedIn profile with a professional picture that projects their personality.
  • Job seekers may consider sharing favorable content and should avoid the unfavorable content on their SMPs.
  • If possible, job seekers should have their LinkedIn profile and other SMPS critiqued by their friends, co-workers, and career advisors, as what they would do on their resumes and other application materials.
  • Career counselors should teach job seekers how to build professional SMPs, with specific examples of how they may strategically display the desired content favored by recruiters.

Do job seekers need even more impeccable social media profiles during the pandemic?

This study was conducted in 2018 before the pandemic hit the economy with numerous long-term effects. Nevertheless, I expect that job seekers’ SMPs may play an even more significant role in influencing recruiters’ hiring decisions for two reasons.

On the one hand, more people are forced to leave their jobs, making it more challenging to secure a job offer in a competitive job market. On the other hand, more companies let their employees work from home permanently. The traditional screening methods, such as face-to-face job interviews in the workplace, may no longer be an option for hiring managers.

Back in May 2020, it was reported that 84% of recruiters were adapting to new hiring practices that facilitate remote exchanges. Among them, 58% used LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Instagram to connect with potential hires. It is also believed that job candidates’ digital presence will matter even more in 2021 and beyond.

Lastly, it is important to note that the above results were generated from 11 qualitative interviews. Although we took careful measures to ensure this qualitative inquiry’s trustworthiness, the results may not be generalized in other settings. Instead, this study’s strength relies on its in-depth, narrative results reported by those purposefully selected informants who have abundant first-hand experience of screening job candidates.

Do you believe that people’s digital reputation is critical in a job search? How important are job candidates’ SMPs in helping them secure a job offer?

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Study: Differences in height across nations explained by poor nutrition during school-age years

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A massive long-term study published in The Lancet by Imperial College London reveals concerning truths about the impact of diet on height, weight, and health. The study followed 65 million children between ages five and 19 in 193 countries from 1985 to 2019. Here’s what we learned.

Tallest and Shortest Nations

In 2019, the tallest 19-year-olds resided in the northwest and central regions of Europe, specifically the Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland, and Montenegro.

The shortest 19-year-olds lived in Latin America and East Africa, and south and Southeast Asia; specifically, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh, Guatemala, and Papua New Guinea.

A 20 cm, or a little more than half a foot difference, existed between 19-year-olds in the tallest and shortest nations. In context, this means “the average 19-year-old girl in Bangladesh and Guatemala is the same height as [the] average 11-year-old girl in the Netherlands.”

Most Improved Nations

Children with the most significant average height improvements throughout the study lived in China, South Korea, and some of Southeast Asia. For instance, over 35 years, 19-year-old boys in China are, on average, 8 cm taller in 2019 than they were in 1985. Emerging economies in these areas may explain some of the increase in height.

Regression Hits the UK; the US Ranks Top amongst Nations with Highest BMIs

Boys and girls in the U.K. ranked 28th tallest and 42nd tallest in 1985, respectively; but, now rank 39th and 49th.

The U.S., New Zealand, Middle East, and the Pacific Islands were home to 19-year-olds with the biggest BMIs, while south Asian countries (e.g., India and Bangladesh) had the smallest.

The End of the Preschool Years is a Turning Point

The analysis revealed that many children had healthy heights and weights up until age five, upon which children in certain countries gained more weight than height.

What the Numbers Mean

The researchers explain that the differences observed in the current study are primarily the result of differences in diet quality and living environment as height and weight are markers of diet quality and health.

They also acknowledge the limitations of the study and the impact of factors like genetics in their report.

Children need a healthy diet with adequate energy. According to the research team, the data highlights a lack of emphasis on diet quality after preschool.

The researchers urge policymakers to focus on making healthy and adequate diets more accessible to children between five and 19 years old. They believe that increasing the availability and reducing the cost of nutritious foods will enable school-aged children to grow taller without gaining too much weight.

According to the researchers, policies should target the home, school, community, and healthcare system, and include “(conditional) cash transfers and food vouchers towards nutritious foods for low-income families; free healthy school meal programmes; fiscal and regulatory policies that restrict the consumption of unhealthy foods, especially processed carbohydrates; the provision of affordable healthy housing, clean water, and sanitation; and the provision of facilities for play and sports in the community and at school.”

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5 ways to keep your emotions in check while running a business

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This article was first published at Real Leaders.

When my wife and I first started dating, she made me promise I’d never take her on a rollercoaster. The jerky motion made her sick. Not long after marrying, I realized I may have broken my promise. I’d bought a franchise. Over the next 10 years, we experienced a journey much more tumultuous than riding The Cyclone. It was a wild ride with ups, downs — and a lot more we couldn’t predict or control.

Running a business is intense. You’ve invested your own money or, more likely, borrowed money you have to pay back. It’s your signature on all the contracts. You’re the last word on all big decisions. You’re expected to be the ultimate problem solver. And if it turns out you don’t like the business, you can’t just quit. You’re on the hook. All of that with the hope of profit, but no guarantee.

I bought my first Edible Arrangements franchise thinking it’d be a simple fruit basket business. As great as the model was, I was still exposed to all the issues faced by small businesses with hourly workers. There were unreasonable customers and ghosting employees. There were delivery van breakdowns and middle-of-the-night break-ins. Fruit pricing and availability were in the hands of Mother Nature. One lady “fell” in our lobby and wanted compensation. There were great times too, but it’s the challenges that cause the hair loss.

What those 10 years, along with many more years as a speaker, coach and writer on franchise issues, have taught me is that we franchise owners don’t just run our business; we feel it. Right there along with managing employees, serving customers, sales and marketing, paying bills and bookkeeping are excitement, disappointment, pride, anxiety, elation and total exhaustion. The journey is as emotional as it is financial.

Unchecked, emotions can be bad for business. They lead to poor decisions because of what I call the “Trigger to Trouble” syndrome. Events in your business can easily set off a process that leads to feelings and reactions. The triggering event might be an angry customer, a drop in sales, a new brand policy or an offhand comment by a colleague. It could be something major or something small.

It doesn’t take much. Instantly, our brain decides if this event is an opportunity or a threat, good or bad, pleasant or painful, fair or unjust. We recall similar events from the past and predict what it might mean for the future.

We convert our objective observation of the event captured by our physical senses and develop a subjective perspective. The more subjective we are, the farther from the truth we get. That perspective leads to an emotion. Finally, based on our subjectivity and feelings, we take action. All of this happens in a fraction of a second. The result is often a kneejerk reaction we’ll eventually regret.

There’s a correlation between your mental state and the state of your business. Your ability to manage your feelings is a huge determinant of how you’ll perform. The franchisees who thrive are those most in control of their mind. Their ability to keep a clear head and remain calm gives them a huge advantage. Their decisions are more responsible. They see opportunities and solutions their freaked-out counterparts miss. They’re able to better inspire employees and serve customers. I’ve met thousands of franchisees in my work and have gotten to know the best among them. Their heads are as cool as their businesses are profitable.

Some people are naturally calm. Others, myself included, have to be more deliberate about it. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to keep your emotions in check. Here are five:

1. Manage stress before managing your problems. Our first instinct when faced with adversity is to address the issue. We want relief. The problem is that when we’re stressed out, our brain function is impaired. Our amygdala kicks into gear, causing a fight or flight response. That makes us hyper-alert and winds us up. And when the amygdala is active, it blocks the neuropathways to the prefrontal cortex, where logic, reason and problem-solving occur. That’s where the best decisions are made.

In other words, the sooner we calm down, the sooner we access the part of the brain we need to find solutions. Avoid giving into the urgency of problems. Clear your head first. Take a moment to reset yourself. Breath. Walk. Meditate. Wait. But don’t act — until you’re calm.

2. Focus on the here and now. Business problems cause us to worry about the future. While we need to prepare for what lies ahead, what matters most is what’s going on today. A lot can happen between today and tomorrow. It’s hard to predict.

Today is tangible. It’s real. And it’s where you have the most control. So, solve the problems in front of you. Keep doing right by your customers. Take care of your employees. Pay any bills that are due now. Learn something you can bring to your work the following day. You can’t know what the future will look like, but it’s safe to assume it will be different. New things will happen. Many of them will be good.

Focus on getting through today. Then do it again tomorrow.

3. Work through problems on paper. It’s hard to do complex math problems in your head. That’s true for business problems as well. You can’t see things clearly with all that noise in your noggin.

On paper, they’re easier to manage. Try writing in a journal. I also like to write my concerns in list form, noting the conclusions I’m drawing, other possible perspectives, my ability to control the issue and what action to take. The exercise is as cathartic as it is productive.

4. Beware of optimism. As destructive as negativity can be, positivity can be equally problematic. Many franchisees have made some pretty bad decisions based on hope.

Faith won’t reduce your expenses. Optimism won’t bring in more customers. What will help your business is an objective understanding of what’s happening. Much better than positivity or negativity is clarity: seeing things as they are. If a positive attitude gets you out of bed and inspires you to act boldly, that’s great. Just make sure there’s data to back up your feelings.

5. Seek outside feedback. Other people with less emotional investment can help you see things more clearly. One franchisee from a well-known retail chain panicked about a decrease in sales when corporate opened a new location in an adjacent town. His field support consultant ran the numbers and pointed out that while gross sales were in fact down, his number of transactions was actually higher. More people were coming into his store, but his average ticket had decreased.

In other words, he and his team weren’t selling well. He was grateful for the perspective. Emotions can blind us, so it can be helpful to get a fresh pair of eyes from someone else.

Running a franchise is an emotional experience. Having feelings about what’s going on doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. And that humanity will allow you to have empathy for customers and employees. So, don’t deny your emotions. Just monitor them. It’s an important step to keep your mind sound and your business profitable.

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