Top 10: New Cracker Barrel menu, James Beard semifinalists and Amazon’s cashierless grocery

SmartBrief’s food and beverage readers were captivated this week by news that restaurant chain Cracker Barrel intends to refresh its menu with a plan that includes a design change, new menu items as well as upgrades to existing offerings. Fast-food chain KFC also plans to add new menu items, though these new dishes are only available for a limited time. Kentucky Fried Chicken & Donuts launched in KFC locations across the US on Monday.

In fine dining news, the James Beard Foundation released its list of semifinalists for the organization’s annual awards with the final nominees coming March 25, after which the winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in Chicago on May 4. Many of the regional awards categories have been revamped for this year’s awards, such as the new “Northwest and Pacific” category.

The No. 2 spot on this week’s most-clicked list was taken by Amazon’s continued presence in the grocery industry with the opening of the e-commerce giant’s cashierless grocery store in Seattle, Wash. The Amazon Go Grocery space had been in development since 2015 and allows customers to pay for products via QR scanning when they leave the store.

Retailers H.E. Butt Grocery, Trader Joe’s and Wegmans all earned a score of 84 out of 100 on this year’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, news that rounded out the top three most-read stories. The three groceries were rated the highest in the supermarket category. Just below them with an 83 were Aldi, Amazon, Costco and Publix.

In more grocery news, Sprouts Farmers Markets plans to expand with 20 new locations this year. The retailer has seen success by entering new markets and maintaining smaller, less-expensive stores and plans to continue these strategies with the new stores in 2020.

Stories about consumer packaged goods executives outlining their consumer-focused marketing efforts also proved popular this week. Kellogg North America Vice President Christopher Hood shared that the company plans to focus marketing on the health benefits of its legacy cereal brands and Kellogg’s new product launches. Hugh Johnston, PepsiCo’s chief financial officer, said the CPG manufacturer is also concentrating on its innovative products as well as personalized data for marketing to consumers.

Check out the complete list of this week’s top 10 most-clicked stories in SmartBrief's food and beverage briefs:

  1. Cracker Barrel plans menu revamp
  2. Amazon unveils first cashierless grocery in Seattle
  3. H-E-B, Trader Joe's, Wegmans score high with customers
  4. Proposals could curb access to free school meals
  5. Cereals at the center of Kellogg's 2020 plan for growth
  6. James Beard Foundation announces awards semifinalists
  7. Why PepsiCo is shifting to personalized data analytics
  8. Sprouts touts new strategies for 2020 growth
  9. New Orleans baker makes king cakes fit for a queen
  10. KFC combines chicken, doughnuts in new menu items

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