USE OF CONVENIENCE FOOD IN THE CATERING INDUSTRY A CASE STUDY OF ADAMAWA STATE

ABSTRACT

The decision regarding when and to what extent to use convenience food products is a perennial issue in the hospitality industry. Despite the pertinence of this issue in the industry, it has never been explicitly examined in the hospitality literature. Potential advantages of adopting convenience food products in food-service operations include: savings in time and costs, better portion and cost control, ease of training and evaluation, superior customer relationships through product consistency, increased safety, ease of storage, and added eye appeal. On the other hand, noticeable disadvantages may include: staff motivation problems, facilitated labor mobility, increased emotional labor for supervisor, health and nutrition down-sides, and more waste. Therefore, to further explore this issue, a paper and pencil survey was administered to culinary managers in a catering industry setting in Yola, Adamawa state. Respondents included 132 chefs representing ten dining facilities. The results indicate that even though the time and labor cost savings brought about by the use of convenience food products are perceived as advantageous, the implied consistency of the final product and superior portion control are not as important. Furthermore, customer relationships, catering to special groups, and final products’ eye appeal appear to be better facilitated by non-convenience foods. Even though it is easier to train chefs/ cooks/ employees to use convenience food products rather than non-convenience ones and these employees appear to be under less psychological pressure in their jobs, they will conversely be less motivated and worse paid. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed herein.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

The food service industry has changed tremendously over the past couple of decades (Belasco, 2007). Demographic changes are a driving force in the evolution of the foodservice industry (Friddle, Mangaraj, Kinsey, 2001). As noted in the latest Standard & Poor’s report on the restaurant industry, “graying baby boomers” with high disposable incomes have the propensity to dine out (Shand, 2008; Puccia, 2012); they do not seem to have the time to cook, and their children and grandchildren seem to lack the interest (Friddle et al., 2001; Belasco, 2007). The contemporary changes in labour markets and customer needs, technological advances, increased competition, and globalization, all present us with important patterns to consider when rethinking how hospitality entities do business and organize themselves in the more-than-ever dynamic environment (Blum, 1996). Innovation in the food service industry is a combination of technological innovation with social and cultural innovation (Earle, 1997). Classical cuisine knowledge and skills are being challenged on a daily basis by competing chains and independent outlets pressured to simultaneously improve delivery speed and reduce costs, all the while providing quality. Preparing food “from scratch” is more and more often considered counter-productive and impractical, and traded for the use of “convenience foods” (Frei, 1996; Belasco, 2007)

The college student market growth has been bringing about an expansion of university food service operations and an increasing demand of diverse, fresh, healthy, tasty, and readily-deliverable on-campus food options (Kim, Ng, Kim, 2009). The use of convenience foods in university food service operations is also increasing, intuitively, since convenience foods are the ones to facilitate timely mass delivery of culinary diversity with minimized production efforts. According to On Campus Hospitality (2013), university dining facilities in the US make up a $21.9 billion market in continuous evolution and revolution; paradoxically, very few explorations of this sub-market exist.

Unanimous agreement on the definition of “convenience food” is absent, however, the terms “prepackaged”, “quick”/”fast”, and “little/easy/no preparation” seem to be reoccurring throughout the extant conceptualization attempts. With these staples in mind, subcategories and exemplars of convenience foods can be placed on a continuum based on their value in terms of health and nutrition, with a “comforting” fried-chicken-and-gravy-(and-mashed-potatoes, -and – corn, -and-a-brownie) frozen dinner at one end, and a no-sugar-added fruit compote at the other, to give just an example. Convenience food is not just fast food, nor is it just ready-made dishes – it can be a precooked pizza crust or a box of pasta, even canned tuna or a jar of apricot jam — as Jacques Pepini would explain as part of his quick recipes.

Opinions about convenience foods in the industry seem to be divided, but three major clusters stand out: there are the ones that reject convenience foods in principle, typically by tradition or due to other personal beliefs, the ones that embrace the novelty 100%, believing that convenience foods are the future, and the compromisers, who believe that certain foods are still best made from scratch, but partly use convenience foods because of the speed and consistency benefits they provide. There appears to be no empirical research in the academic literature on the implications that substituting fresh products with convenience ones might have.

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY:

Throughout history, people have bought food from bakeries, creameries, butcher shops and other commercial processors to save time and effort. The Aztec people of Central Mexico utilized several convenience foods that required only adding water for preparation, which were used by travellers. Cornmeal that was ground and dried, referred to as pinolli, was used by travellers as a convenience food in this manner

Canned food was developed in the 19th century, primarily for military use, and became more popular during World War I. The expansion of canning depended significantly upon the development of a machine for producing large quantities of cans very cheaply. Before the 1850s, making a can for food required a skilled tinsmith; afterwards, an unskilled labourer, operating a can making machine, could produce 15 times as many cans each day.

One of the earliest industrial-scale processed foods was meatpacking. After the invention of a system of refrigerator cars in 1878, meat could be raised, slaughtered, and butchered hundreds (later thousands) of miles or kilometers away from the consumer.

Experience in World War II contributed to the development of frozen foods and the frozen food industry. Modern convenience food saw its beginnings in the United States during the period that began after World War II. Many of these products had their origins in military-developed foods designed for storage longevity and ease of preparation in the battle field. Following the war, several commercial food companies had leftover manufacturing facilities, and some of these companies created new freeze-dried and canned foods for home use. Like many product introductions, not all were successful—convenience food staples such as fish sticks and canned peaches were counterbalanced by failures such as ham sticks and cheeseburgers-in-a-can.

As of the 2010s due to increased preference for fresh, “natural”, whole, and organic food and health concerns the acceptability of processed food to consumers in the United States was dropping and the reputation of major packaged food brands had been damaged. Firms responded by offering “healthier” formulations and acquisition of brands with better reputations.

Adamawa was created out of Gongola State on 27th August, 1991 as one of the nine new states created by the Federal Military Government. It is located in the North Eastern part of the country. Prior to its creation in 1991, it was part of the North Eastern StateS from 1967 to February 1976 and Gongola State 1976 – 1991.

The State shares border with Gombe State to the North, and Borno State to the North East, while to the West it is bordered with Taraba State as well as the Republic of Cameroon to the East.

There are over 80 ethnic groups found in Adamawa State. Some of the ethnic groups include: Fulani, Verre, Chamba, Lilba, Kwah, Waja, Tambo, Libo Mwama, Kilba, Viengo and others.

The people of Adamawa, are noted for its rich cultural heritage which reflects in its history, i.e. dances, dress patterns, craftsmanship, music, and her cordial relationships. The three main religions are Islam, Christianity and Traditionalism.

Adamawa is the millennium tourist destination in Nigeria. All major towns in the State are adequately connected to the National Grid and have standard health facilities spread all over the State. There are good catering services provided by both government and private hotels. These catering industries are known for their popular convenience food provisions for breakfasts, occasions like birthday, wedding celebrations burials etc. this project work will therefore focus on the use of convenience food in the catering industry in Yola Adamawa state with an insight to their advantages and disadvantages.

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