What is "Desktop Dining?" Does it represent an untapped opportunity for the restaurant industry? Does it represent new, underserved points of sales distribution? And how can we apply culinary arts to "Desktop Dinning" opportunities?
"Desktop Dining" is quite simply 'eating at your desk.' Its growing popularity results from increased employer pressure to squeeze more productive work time out of each day. It may also reflect the absence of readily accessible local eating restaurants close to your office location. Or it might reflect the lack of time created from walking from your office to step on an elevator to the ground floor of a New York or San Francisco office tower – and then hunting down a Push Cart, Food Truck, Fresh Hot Sub Sandwich or Vending Machine before returning to your office desk.
I have been working with a New York City investment group for over a year developing new products (food and packaging) and a marketing strategy to fill this need. We have wrestled with balancing quality and price – like any other restaurant chain. From a business goal standpoint, we want to sell culinary food quality and variety at a premium price point. And yes, the food truck phenomenon provides our most immediate concept challenge. And most food truck food is not sold at low price points – unless you want to operate at a loss.
To answer the second question: "Does it represent an untapped opportunity for the restaurant industry?" Yes it does! In my opinion, I believe Desktop Dining is the next new frontier in reaching an untapped customer base tired of their basic home-prepared brown bag lunches. I believe there are millions of hungry consumers that daily dread the noon hour hunger pains, with no flavorful and nutritious food to stimulate their senses for a long afternoon of work.
Our third question asks, "Does Desktop Dining represent new, underserved points of sales distribution?" And the answer is yes again! As our country has evolved from a rural agricultural economy to manufacturing plants and the service industries in major population centers, these transitions have always been associated with steady growth for the food industry. Desktop Dining just might be the largest and final food frontier in America.
Now let's answer the last question, "How can we apply culinary arts to Desktop Dinning opportunities?" I believe Desktop Dining provides many undiscovered innovative food formulations, sustainable packaging products, and shelf-life and food safety innovations. It will require the American food industry to call upon the brightest minds in our culinary universities and traditional food scientist – because the opportunity for dietary-driven food categories for weight loss, endurance training, and health optimization will never be greater with our new health care laws. The opportunity for new product and packaging innovation in the Desktop Dining category has never been greater. I challenge you to join with me to meet the great opportunities in front of us!
For more information on 1-day cutting edge corporate innovation seminars, contact me at email@example.com or follow the Food Innovation Institute website (www.foodbevbiz.com) for information on a Food Innovation 3-day workshop in Denver:
August 20-22, 2012: How to Start & Grow a Food Truck Business.
Darrel Suderman, Ph.D., is president of Food Technical Consulting and founder of Food Innovation Institute. He has held senior R&D/QA leadership positions at KFC, Boston Market, Church's Chicken and Quiznos and led KFC’s development team of “Popcorn Chicken”, now a $1B international product –invented by Gene Gagliardi.