Episode 285: Maeve Webster

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In this episode, Lori Taylor interviews Maeve Webster, the president of Menu Matters, about the state of the food service industry and current trends. They discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and how it has accelerated certain trends, such as off-premise dining and the rise of ghost kitchens. They also explore the shift towards experiential food service and the importance of emotive innovation. Overall, they highlight the need for the industry to adapt and optimize in order to meet the changing preferences and expectations of consumers. In this conversation, Maeve Webster and Lori Taylor discuss various topics related to the food service industry. They explore mood-based functional benefits in food, the importance of menu optimization, the role of fruits and vegetables in menu optimization, supporting local restaurants, and exciting innovations in the industry.

In this Episode:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the food service industry, forcing operators to adapt and optimize their businesses.
  • Off-premise dining, such as takeout and delivery, has remained elevated even as restrictions have eased.
  • There is a growing trend towards experiential food service, with consumers seeking unique and memorable dining experiences.
  • Emotive innovation, which elicits certain emotions from consumers, is becoming increasingly important in the industry.
  • The pandemic has permanently shifted consumer behavior and habits, and operators need to understand and cater to these changes. Food products are being developed to enhance moods and emotions, creating a positive emotional experience for consumers.
  • Menu optimization is crucial for food service operators to ensure competitive differentiation, profitability, and a positive dining experience.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are being reconsidered by operators due to labor shortages and cost control, but they remain important for emotional investment and brand optimization.
  • Supporting local restaurants is essential for vibrant communities and celebrating the joy of dining out.
  • Despite challenges, the food service industry is expected to see exciting innovations and new produce types that will change our relationship with food.


00:00 Introduction and Mini Series

01:48 State of the Food Service Industry

03:33 Maeve Webster’s Background and Work at Menu Matters

08:42 Current Trends

18:36 Impact of COVID-19 on Food Service

26:37 Transactional vs Experiential Food Service

31:58 Long-Term Effects of the Pandemic

36:17 Innovation and Trends Post-COVID

39:29 Mood-based Functional Benefits

42:42 Menu Optimization

49:58 Fruits and Vegetables in Menu Optimization

55:21 Supporting Restaurants in the Community

56:10 Exciting Innovations in the Food Service Industry


Website: Menu Matters | Turning Insights Into Results

Facebook: Facebook

Instagram: Maeve Webster (@maeve.webster) • Instagram photos and videos

About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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