Mid-Year Review: Ten Food Industry Trends Missed by Forecasters for 2014

Mid-Year Review: Ten Food Industry Trends Missed by Forecasters for 2014

By Suzy Badaracco, Foodable Industry Expert

When combing through 168 Trends Forecast Top 10 lists for 2014 offered up by trends forecasters, several gaps appeared. Was 2014 just so predictable that everyone had the same opinion or were we just so glad that 2013 was over and happy to look forward?

To understand why food and flavor trends are born, or why they step into the spotlight for any given year, one must also understand their surrounding Couriers and influencers. A Courier acts to shuttle a trend in from a neighboring focus, while an influencer can be seen as an ally to a trend. Consumer, Health, and Technology trends impact and shift trends that are expressed in the food industry. They move as a dance — when one arena experiences a shift, the other areas will shift in tandem. Without understanding what is influencing a food, flavor, or beverage trend, you have little hope of predicting where it will go next. And that is the difference between tracking trends and forecasting them. With that said, overlooking key trends is akin to having a puzzle with missing pieces, which means the picture remains incomplete and can be misunderstood. Here are a few of the overlooked patterns to round things out a bit to help complete this year’s puzzle.

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The Numbers Are In: Who's Leading Sales Growth in the Restaurant Industry?

Foodable WebTV Network

Foodable WebTV Network

“Brands that have found a way to differentiate themselves are gaining market share,” said Technomic President Ron Paul, commenting on a recently released Technomic report on industry growth.

According to report data, which was released yesterday, the Top 500 restaurant chains in the business pulled in increased numbers, roughly $264 billion last year, a significant increase compared to 2012.

Three categories — Asian; bakery/cafe; and coffee cafe — pulled in the highest growth for limited-service restaurants, with Panda Express, Panera and Starbucks leading the way. 

The report also shows there has been an increase in full-service dining, and lists the Top 5 fastest-growing chains in terms of sales. Read More

Tales from a Former Server: Phrasing (Or, How to Position Yourself More Favorably to Guests)

Tales from a Former Server: Phrasing (Or, How to Position Yourself More Favorably to Guests)

By an Anonymous Former Server, as part of our new 'Tales from a Former Server' column

I’ve worked in a total of ten restaurants in two states over the past 12 years. I’ve opened three and have gone through so much training that I could probably never forget what I’ve learned, even if I wanted to. However, even with all of those restaurants and all of the training, there was only one that taught me how to properly speak to a table. At first I thought it was stupid. “I know what to say and what I’m doing,” I thought. But as I began to apply the following phrases, I noticed a difference in my table’s behavior toward me. Even after I left that particular restaurant, I still employed these tactics and they worked every time. 

When it comes to talking to your tables, there are some really easy ways to manipulate the conversation in your favor. I wish I still had the training materials because they were gold (and impossible to get a hold of now that I am no longer an employee), but I remember a few and would like to share them.

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Food Allergies Are Becoming Part of the Foodservice Conversation

Foodable WebTV Network

Foodable WebTV Network

Back in college, a dear friend of mine had an egg allergy. Now, think of all the foods that incorporate eggs, and you’ll see why this was such a hassle every time she wanted to venture anywhere. Cookouts, even, became a danger zone, with one instance ending in an ambulance. You can only imagine how risky an uncharted restaurant was. Throughout the past couple of years, the conversation around food allergies – and not just gluten – has finally been taken to the masses. And now, thankfully, restaurant operators and chefs are stepping up to facilitate as much as they’re able to. Read More