VANCOUVER — It may be pumpkin spice season, but in the latest move by restaurants to create social media buzzworthy concoctions, Tim Hortons is experimenting with a far more bizarre new latte flavour: Buffalo sauce.The latte — available at only two Buffalo, N.Y., locations for a limited time — is made with a “bold Buffalo sauce flavour,” and finished off with “a dusting of zesty Buffalo seasoning” and a whipped topping. Blue cheese not included.The idea to incorporate Buffalo sauce into its menu stemmed from noticing both the coffee-and-doughnut chain and the sauce were created in 1964, Tims said in a press release.“I think that is part of the broader strategy to create products and items that will garner some of that social media excitement,” said Robert Carter, executive director of foodservice at NPD Group, a market research firm.“(But) I don’t know if it’s, you know, to the point where they’re going, ‘Let’s just think of the most crazy outlandish thing.”‘In an environment where consumers’ wage growth is falling behind the pace of economic expansion, restaurant industry growth is fairly flat, said Carter.That means chains are forced to differentiate themselves and steal customers from other companies in order to boost their traffic, he said. One way to do that is create buzzworthy food and beverage items that consumers, especially the important millennial demographic, will share on their social media profiles, Carter added.In this vein, Tim Hortons has launched a series of zany products recently. Last Canada Day, some U.S. restaurants served Canada-inspired treats, including a poutine doughnut featuring cheese curds and gravy.“We always enjoy having some fun with our guests by sharing innovative and unique products,” a Tim Hortons spokesperson said in an emailed statement.They’re not alone in the practice. Coffee chain competitor Starbucks launched its Unicorn Frapuccino in April, capitalizing on millennials’ collective obsession with the single-horned creature. The fast-food industry has also seen chicken taco shells and burger buns, hot-dog stuffed pizza crusts and black- and red-bunned Whopper burgers, just to name a few.As industry growth is expected to remain stagnant over the next few years, Carter anticipates major brands will continue the trend of serving up Instagram-worthy dishes.Brands can no longer rely on traditional advertising, said Yann Cornil, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.With people watching less television, he said, brands must generate traction via word-of-mouth and social media.Part of what’s helping attract people to this particular latte, Yann said, is it’s a global brand honing in on a distinct local flavour. Communities respond well to chains creating products based on their local identities, he said.The strange combination of chicken-wing sauce and coffee also draws in sensation seekers, he said. These individuals may not even enjoy the taste, but enjoy the thrill of novel experiences. Typically, they’re younger people, Yann said, so part of Tim Hortons’s strategy may be to draw in a younger demographic.Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter
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“We had very good meetings. I informed the [officials] that UNIFIL, in close coordination with LAF, has enhanced its operational activities to maintain security and stability in our area of operations following the recent redeployment of LAF units north of the Litani River,” the head and Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNFIL), Major-General Paolo Serra, said after the meetings, according to a news release. The Force Commander had called on President Michel Sleiman, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati, in the capital, Beirut. The meetings came in the wake of the one-year extension, at the end of August, of UNIFIL’s mandate by the Security Council. “I have expressed my most sincere appreciation for the deep commitment of the LAF in maintaining a high level of coordination with UNIFIL despite the additional challenges the Lebanese Army has been faced with in recent months,” Major-General Serra added. Established in 1978, UNIFIL is tasked with ensuring that the area between the so-called Blue Line – separating Israel and Lebanon – and the Litani River is free of unauthorized weapons, personnel and assets. It also cooperates with the Lebanese Armed Forces so they can fulfil their security responsibilities. In light of the volatile regional environment, the Force Commander also expressed particular satisfaction at the prevailing calm and stability in UNIFIL’s area of operations in southern Lebanon. The ongoing violence in neighbouring Syria has fuelled sectarian tensions across Lebanon and raised concerns that the country could plunge back into the internecine violence it endured during its 15 year civil war, which ended in 1990. The last weeks of August witnessed fighting between supporters and opponents of the Syrian Government in Beirut, while tensions also increased in other parts of the country, such as the northern city of Tripoli. Moreover, a series of kidnappings also contributed to escalation in tensions.
The total bus and coach sector grew 118.6% to 883 registrations in May, and was up 56.5% for January-May.Registrations of purpose-built buses and coaches rose 14.2% in the month and 44.5% in the first five months of 2012.Converted bus registrations were up 240.9% in May and 68.5% for the year-to-date.“The bus and coach sector enjoyed significant growth in May, with registrations up almost 120%,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive. “Purpose-built buses and coaches are showing the most consistent levels of demand, but converted buses also saw a welcome return to growth in the month. Operators continue to utilise new technologies to enhance fleet reliability and efficiency with more than 650 electric buses registered since 2009, boosted by the Green Bus Fund.”Click through to download the full May 2012 bus and coach registrations news release and data tables, which include a more detailed analysis of the figures.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)