Is your new HFCS-free menu more expensive for the customer or is Jasons Deli absorbing that cost? Were absorbing it, and its not easy. It shouldnt be more expensive but yes, for us to go to a pure product it does cost us more. We are absorbing it, and were doing it incrementally. Were not able to just turn the whole ship around on a dime. Were taking a bit at a time. Weve had our vendors work with us, recognizing that were not a massive company but we do have some purchasing power.
Were absorbing it in some cases and in other cases these companies want to maintain the relationship with us so theyre doing everything they can to hold the point down. But at this point in time it is more money.
Do you think we could see a dramatic shift away from HFCS in the future? I think were at a whole new era of people understanding food and good food. These young X and Y Gen people are educated; they know. Theyre not going to let people shove stuff down their throats.
Its a campaign that cannot stop until we are delivering good food at a decent price to the American people. They buy into a lot of stuff because theyre exposed to so many commercials, so much false advertising that they believe. But its time the FDA and people stand up, and the restaurant people. When we converted to no trans fat we made a statement in the paper: Come to us. Well help you go trans fat free. Well show you our suppliers. Were not trying to beat the heck out of our competition. Were trying to do the right thing for the American people. And were not perfect. Weve got hurdles in our menu and our food product, but we think were on the right road. It just takes time. Any help we can get from huge companies like soft drink companies and federal agencies and the NRA, come on! Come aboard. Give people the right kind of food so we wont be faced with a generation thats sick.
Will it ever be possible to offer HFCS-free soft drinks? Were looking to do it. We have the fountain and were close to delivering a fountain drink that has cane sugar and no HFCS. And were really excited. There are companies out there doing that. We went to a major company two weeks ago and said: You may lose our business. And we may lose some of our business because were going to make such a strong statement, but we wish that you guys would deliver to us a HFCS-free [product]. Is that on your radar? And, you know what? They dont act like its on their radar. They act like theyre going to have to wait until theyre pushed in a corner because of costs to deliver whats really right for the consumer. So thats going to be a slow one. Thats what frustrates us, the soft drink side.
The most important question is how have your customers reacted to your switch? Theres this one soft drink that we put cane sugar in and took the HFCS out, it seems like theres a following for this type of stuff that we didnt even realize was out there. On our comment cards weve had nothing but positive reactions about this one particular product.
Now we have had some negative because were in your face with our signage and were saying some stuff that people are probably afraid to say. Weve had a little rebuttal from some of the corn industry like, It really isnt what you think it is. But were going to just try to move forward because we think its the right thing to do.