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FOOD SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Australia
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Global News Wrap Up: Starbucks' first augmented reality experience; PYMNTS' Restaurant Readiness Index; Taco Bell's biggest value push

Here is a summary of the most interesting QSR news stories of the week from around the world.

Starbucks has unveiled a multi-sensory retail experience in the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai. It is the first Starbucks location to integrate a real-time, in-store and online customer experience. It features the first Starbucks augmented reality (AR) experience which is accessible through the custom-designed Roastery digital web-app platform or on Alibaba’s Taobao app. Guest can simply point their mobile devices at key features around the Roastery to bring to life information about the Starbucks bean-to-cup story. The launch of the Roastery also sees the debut of Italian artisan Rocco Princi bakery and Teavana bar in China.

Mintel predicted that 2018 will see the blurring of retail, foodservice, and social media, as well as health and indulgence. Automated order and delivery processes will meet the need for convenience as consumers become more comfortable with and reliant on restaurant technology. As Americans prioritize self-care, food and drink offerings that are both functional and flavorful will rise to the top. Finally, the routine use of social media will impact the creation of next-level menus and food presentation.

Grubhub, online and mobile food-ordering company, has released its second annual 'Year In Delivery' trends analysis. The data found that poke was trendier than ever for delivery in 2017 and is forecasted to stay popular in 2018. Vegetable entrees, such as jackfruit and cauliflower steaks, are on the rise for delivery in 2018, reinforcing national culinary forecasts. The dishes forecasted for popularity in 2018 includes Lettuce chicken wraps with a 184% rise in average monthly popularity, poke (91% rise), bulgogi bibimbap (89% rise), roasted cauliflower (88% rise), and Spicy tonkotsu ramen with a 76% rise in average monthly popularity.

Following McDonald's announcement of the resurgence of its $1 value meals, Taco Bell, the Mexican-themed chain owned by Yum Brands, is responding with what it calls its “biggest value push in company history.” According to Time, the chain is reminding customers that it has a $1 menu with 20 items, and this dollar lineup will be boosted by 20 more limited-time offerings in 2018. The menu will include nacho French fries and a new “stacker” quesadilla — beef and cheese in a folded flour tortilla.

In collaboration with Bank of America Merchant Services and Bypass Mobile, PYMNTS.com launched its first-ever Restaurant Readiness Index that assesses the level of innovation in the U.S. quick-service restaurant industry. PYMNTS.com studied 178 QSRs and tracked the presence or absence of key convenience features when customers order and pay in-store, on a mobile device or via the web. According to the study, the innovations most likely to place a QSR at the top of the index include accepting new and alternative payment methods, kiosks to enable self-service ordering, and cloud-based point-of-sale systems. Most QSRs, however, are failing to implement those features. 53% of QSRs use cloud-based POS systems and just over 74% of QSR’s offer in-store promotions. Soup/salad sellers had the highest average scores (50 out of 100), while frozen dessert distributors did the worst (26 out of 100).

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