Operator Spotlight: Saint Louis Zoo

Recognized as a leading zoo in animal management, research, conservation and education, the Saint Louis Zoo is a get-away destination that brings together more than 14,840 wild animals and 3,200,000 annual visitors. A discovery is around every corner, and that includes its outstanding food and beverage options. The Zoo has something for every taste and diet, so you can enjoy mouthwatering favorites as you wander the grounds. Take DOLE® Soft Serve for example.

Eric Delmez, a Food and Beverage Manager at the Zoo, helped unite DOLE Soft Serve and the Saint Louis Zoo in 2011. He first tried Pineapple DOLE Soft Serve during his honeymoon to Disney World a few years prior. Not only was it delicious, the shop serving it had a longer line than any of the rides. So, when the Zoo’s gift shop manager suggested bringing DOLE Soft Serve to the Zoo, Eric was immediately on board.

But it wasn’t just about the taste. Having a dessert option that was fat-free, lactose-free and gluten-free was a huge appeal to Eric. He also wanted to offer something that stood out—something other than ice cream. “I try to keep up on the trends in the industry and keep up with what customers are looking for,” he said. “More and more people have allergies or are vegetarian or vegan. They’re looking for alternative options.”

After trying all 6 DOLE flavors, Eric chose Pineapple (a staple flavor) and Raspberry to complement it. The Zoo worked with Midwest Equipment Company and Kent Precison Foods Group (the manufacturer of Dole Soft Serve) to find the right equipment to handle the large capacity crowds typical for summer days at the Zoo. And just like that, they were ready to serve soft serve.

“I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with KPFG,” said Eric. “I’ve never had a delay on product, and they helped get marketing materials to our team and were always helpful.”

Pineapple and Raspberry DOLE Soft Serve continue to draw huge crowds at the Zoo, so Eric has never switched out the flavors. Though, he does wish the Zoo had space for additional hoppers, and flavors. “DOLE Lemon is phenomenal,” he added. “It could almost replace our Lemon Chill, and it’s healthier too.”

When asked what he would tell someone considering adding DOLE soft serve to their location, Delmez again expressed how popular the product is. But he also emphasized its profitability. “We have about a 72% profit margin at the zoo, and we are still able to keep the price low,” he said. “It’s so affordable, and dry storage and a long shelf life make it easy to handle too.”

To follow the Saint Louis Zoo’s lead and increase your profits with DOLE Soft Serve Mix, visit dolesoftserve.com.

A Case for Offering Dairy-Free Options

Did you know that the number of people who identify themselves as vegans has nearly tripled since 2009? There are approximately 1.8 million Americans who live vegan lifestyles¹. Also, did you know that between 30 and 50 million Americans have some degree of lactose intolerance²? Being dairy-free is not some passing fad or small specialty niche—it’s a market that’s expected to grow up to 15% to a value of $14 billion by 2018³.

People make dairy-free choices for many different reasons: lactose intolerance, milk allergies, and lifestyle. While reasons may differ, their need is the same – to find sources of dairy-free food options. Are you servicing your patrons’ needs? Are you providing a product that could satisfy the needs of a growing population? If not, we think you should!

Why Choose Dairy Free?

10 Healthy Reasons People Choose Dairy Free

DOLE® Soft Serve is the complete package. The soft serve product line offers unique, dairy-free mixes that deliver intense fruit flavors as well as lactose free traditional flavors to satisfy your customers’ cravings. Here’s a scenario for you to ponder.

Becky is lactose intolerant. She and her husband are out running errands with their four children. As they leave their last stop, the kids ask for ice cream. Becky cringes because she knows if she eats it, she will suffer for the next few hours. She has the choice of abstaining from a frozen treat for herself or she can choose a place that works for everyone. What do you think she will do if she knows of a place that serves a product that agrees with her diet?

You guessed it! She will most likely take her family of six to the place that serves a lactose-free product. The worst-case scenario for any food and beverage establishment is that she makes the decision to avoid eating out altogether and takes her family home for what’s in the pantry! Buying behavior, especially food purchases, are often made to accommodate the individual on a special diet. If this wasn’t the case, the person with the food allergy, dietary restriction or food lifestyle choice would be excluded from the meal.  Offering dairy-free options makes a restaurant or frozen dessert establishment appealing to larger groups or families.

10 Healthy Reasons People Choose Dairy Free

10 Healthy Reasons People Choose Dairy Free

An added expansion to the case for offering dairy-free options reaches into the healthful-eating segment. There are numerous possible health benefits of going dairy-free like decreased anxiety, reduced nausea, better sleep and reduced hyperactivity in children. Offering a product that is vegan or dairy-free attracts people who want to eat smart. There isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t reminded that there is evidence to support the cliché, “you are what you eat”.

We believe that offering a dairy-free alternative will only help your business. Veganism and dairy-free are on people’s radar and their perception of healthy is too! For more detailed information on meeting the demands of the growing dairy-free market, please check out our website for our newly published “A Case for Offering Dairy Free Options”.

Resources

¹ Vegetarian Resource Group https://www.vrg.org/nutshell/market.htm#market

² National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH, DHHS. Digestive Disease Statistics. Retrieved August 12, 2005, from http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/statistics.htm

³ MarketResearch.com. Dairy Alternative (Beverage) Market by Type (Soy, Almond, Rice), Formulation (Plain, Flavored, Sweetened, Unsweetened), Channel (Supermarket, Health Store, Pharmacy, Convenience Store) & Geography – Global Trends & Forecast to 2019. Accessed February, 2014. http://www.marketresearch.com/MarketsandMarkets-v3719/Dairy-Alternative-Beverage-Type-Soy-7904734/