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TrendWire, December 3, 2008

The Food Channel TrendWire

The Food Channel Trendwire
December 3, 2008 • Volume 22, Number 18 • http://www.foodchannel.com
IN THIS EDITION

We know you’ve been waiting for it, so here it is: the last Trendwire of the year. In this edition, we’ve categorized and summarized the Trendwire stories of 2008, giving you a quick snapshot of the year in review in the world of food trends. This year’s top trends can be summed up in two big words: economy and ecology. Concerns about the financial health of the industry have dominated the news this year, touching all service sectors. Simultaneously, food producers and restaurateurs alike are increasingly looking for ways to create and deliver their products in more environmentally friendly ways.


It’s the Economy, Stupid

These days it feels like “no truer words were ever spoken.” And the economy affects the food business in very specific ways. Whether it’s the cost of materials that continue to increase (in particular corn and dairy products) or the cost of fuel to deliver them all, restaurants, grocery stores, farmers and food manufacturers are all feeling the pinch. This year, companies are looking for ways to do what they do better, and at better margins. Some are looking to cut costs, while others are hoping to simply increase sales by providing a better experience.

  • Burgermania 2008: Fine Dining Goes Fast Food (February 7, 2008)

    What could be more comforting during times of upheaval than burgers? Apparently many chefs (including Bobby Flay and Thomas Keller) agree and are opening new burger joints all around the country. This past February Trendwire gave you a brief history of the burger, then jumped with light speed to all the latest in burger news.
  • Uncertain Economy Creates Anxiety in the Restaurant World (April 2, 2008)

    Back in April we gave you a preview of the perfect financial storm the restaurant business is facing that could spell disaster for all but the most fortunate. Take a look at that Trendwire for information on the expense side of the problem (such as rising fuel and commodity costs) as well as the income side (increased competition and less disposable income, for example) to see how and why this industry is reevaluating its business model. We also gave you details on how specific restaurants (chains and independents) are coping with the challenges.
  • Low Country Cooking Goes Prime Time (April 16, 2008)

    Comfort food is a sure bet in uncertain economic times. Low Country cuisine is just that, with a semiexotic twist, assuming you aren’t from the South. While the term “Low Country” refers to the geographic area along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, it’s becoming synonymous with the new Southern cuisine that’s becoming more popular and refined.
Chains Working to Redefine Themselves

In a business with shrinking margins and a shrinking customer base, many chains are searching for ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Whether it’s going back to basics (in the case of Starbucks) or expanding horizons (such as the Burger King Whopper Bar), these chains are trying to stay ahead of the game.

  • Coffee Wars Continue to Make Big News (January 24, 2008)

    In that Trendwire, we detailed the ongoing battle between coffee giant Starbucks and fast-food icon McDonald’s for your morning java dollar. We brought you the details of Howard Shultz’s plan to “Reignit[e] the emotional attachment with customers and restor[e] the connections customers have with Starbucks coffee, brand, people and stores,” and gave you the details about the McDonald’s plan to expand its universe to include an increasingly high-end coffee choice for its billions and billions served.
  • Starbucks Espresso Training Next Step in the Heated Coffee Wars (March 5, 2008)

    Amid great media fanfare, Starbucks closed nearly all U.S. locations for more than 3 hours in order to retrain employees on how to make the perfect espresso. The move was designed to continue to redefine the Starbucks brand by enhancing customer experience. Competitors (such as Dunkin’ Donuts) took full advantage of the situation. Revisit all the details in the March 5 edition of Trendwire.
  • Is a Burger King Whopper Bar Coming to a Strip Mall, Airport or Casino Near You? (April 16, 2008)

    Burger King is testing a fast-casual version of its restaurant that focuses specifically on its famous Whopper sandwich. Dubbed the “Whopper Bar,” the new concept is designed to operate within other establishments, such as airports for example. Get the details in the April 16 Trendwire.
  • Denny’s Rocks Late Night—Literally (June 4, 2008)

    Denny’s, the breakfast powerhouse, is expanding its horizons by embracing the late-night love, reminding people that it is open 24 hours a day. New menus, new music and new uniforms are all combining to give Denny’s an image transformation. Check out the June 4 Trendwire for details on the new look.
Health and Wellness Continue to Be Important Drivers for the Food Business

Whether it’s looking for the latest superfood or trying to get rid of unwanted pounds, people are increasingly looking at quick fixes and supplemental nutrition to improve their long-term health. While these issues didn’t dominate the Trendwire coverage this year, they continue to be important considerations for the industry.

 

  • State and Local Governments Move to Mandate Menu Board Nutritional Info (February 20, 2008)

    It’s no secret that the obesity epidemic in the United States is getting worse. So it may not surprise you to know that the many state and local governments are working to pass laws that they hope can slow and eventually reserve the trend. In the February 20 Trendwire we highlighted the (at the time) current bills in debate and gave you the details about how the future laws could affect your ordering experience the next time you visit your favorite chain restaurant.
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  • Aloe Vera Not Just for Sunburns (May 21, 2008)

    While superfoods have been hot for several years, this particular plant may not be on your “ingest me now” list. However, aloe vera is that latest in a growing list of plants credited with healing properties. And it’s showing up in unexpected places such as vitamins and drinkable smoothies.
  • Eating Apples May Keep You from Becoming, Well, an Apple (November 1, 2008)

    The November 1 Trendwire revisited the unofficial favorite fruit of the country, the humble apple. While it may have been among the first fruits you tasted, you may have forsaken it for other more exotic or more complex fruits. Here we gave you reason to fall in love with apples again. We summarized new research that identifies the benefits of apples, including stabilizing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol just to name two.
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Gimmicky Marketing Could Be the Taste of the Future in Food Advertising

In 2008 we saw an increase in creativity on the part of marketers looking to hawk their wares. Whether it was edible adverts or prank marketing, these companies were (and still are) looking to grab your attention in some new and inventive ways.

 

  • Peel 'n Taste Your Way to Flavor (March 19, 2008)

     

    We gave you a double dose of info on the new Peel 'n Taste™ strips, once on our website, www.foodchannel.com, and again in our March 19 Trendwire. These strips can be flavored to taste like just about anything (a Mojito or Welch’s Grape Juice as detailed in our articles) and could be coming to a magazine near you.
  • Prank Marketing Increasing in Popularity (June 18, 2008)

    We took a look at three high profile restaurant-related pranks. These pranks were perpetrated by the restaurants themselves upon their unsuspecting customers. Hardees/Carl’s Jr. and Pizza Hut tricked customers by substituting their fast food at fake high-end restaurants. Burger King made some loyal customers sad, if only temporarily, by claiming to have removed its beloved Whopper from the menu permanently. Take a look at the June 18 Trendwire for all the details.
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Green Is the Adjective of the Hour

While the economy is probably the first thing on the minds of most food professionals, environmental friendliness is a close second. As we predicted in our first Trendwire of 2008 (January 9 to be exact), going green is as hot as the ever-shrinking polar ice caps.

 

  • Looking at the Latest in Green Initiatives (March 19, 2008)

     

    That Trendwire highlighted many of the things restaurants are doing these days to decrease their impact on the environment and boost their bottom lines. We looked at a couple of specific brands that consider greenness a part of their brands and corporate culture. And we also gave you many examples of ideas that can be implemented in any restaurant, anytime, anywhere.
  • Changing the Way We Look at the Cost of Food (May 7, 2008)

    We began taking a look at the hidden costs associated with our food, especially in the area of transportation costs. Earlier this year, we explored what’s now become almost a given—the idea that the price we currently pay for food doesn’t necessarily reflect the environmental costs associated with getting the food to us. A shift is underway in food pricing that will only grow with time. In the not too distant future, the price we pay for food will take into account many more factors than we presently consider, including the cost to the land and the planet of creating, shipping and storing the food. Take a look at that Trendwire to get a feel for the tip of this environmental iceberg.
  • Ingestion = Appreciation; Can Eating Endangered Foods Actually Save Them? (May 7, 2008)

    In a strange paradox, many advocates of a particular species of endangered animals and plants are encouraging people to eat them. OK, we’re not talking about bald eagle fajitas or polar bear pie. Instead, there’s an increasingly popular trend to heighten interest in preserving certain species by encouraging a renewed culinary appreciation of the animals. In the May 7 Trendwire, we looked at this growing trend and gave you ideas for attending a local appreciation event near you.
  • Have a Coke (Shirt) and a Smile! (May 21, 2008)

    The May 21 Trendwire gave you details on Coca-Cola’s new line of Drink 2 Wear shirts, made from recycled Coke bottles. The shirts sport ecofriendly slogans and eye-catching graphics.
  • Vertical Farming May Be the Next Step in Local Eating (July 31, 2008)

    We brought you news of the vertical farm concept in our article on the foodchannel.com website http://www.foodchannel.com/stories/659-vertical-farm-of-the-near-future. In general, these farms are located in an urban environment, often in a skyscraper of some sort, and rely on the concept of hydroponics (meaning growing plants directly in water sans soil). So, in a nutshell, these farms grow food near people, reducing the transportation time and costs. We detailed these and other advantages in the July 31 Trendwire.
  • New Services Growing Up Around the Locavore Movement (July 31, 2008)

    The Locavore movement (or eating only things grown or raised locally) is hotter than ever. And for the locavore with more money than time, many services are popping up to help them eat with their consciences. In that issue of Trendwire we brought you up to date on many of the services we’ve noticed lately, including a service that will come to your home to plant and then maintain your very own organic garden.
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Other Trends and News

And, of course, we had a few articles that didn’t exactly fit into a nice, neat category, but were important all the same. We brought you a food-safety issue, the idea of morphing of the restaurant and grocery store, and a must-have condiment, among other things.

 

 




SPECIAL TRENDWIRE BONUS! Last month’s Trendwire brought you information about the benefits of quercetin found in apples. Now we have a report on pears as well—check it out at (http://www.foodchannel.com/stories/1016-the-benefits-of-pears).

 

 

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