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3 Top Food Trends for Small Business Owners

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Whether you own a restaurant, food truck, or catering business, or you’re a food retailer, keeping up on food trends is an important part of running a successful business. Here are three sizzling-hot food trends to add to your menu or store shelves to help fatten up your profits.

Sales of organic goods are soaring. And while it’s not just organic food that consumers are embracing, food and beverages are a big part of organic products’ growth. According to Laurie Demeritt, president of market research firm The Hartman Group, and despite a report released early in 2013 that said organic food was no more nutritious than “regular” food, consumers will continue to buy organic products because of the “other quality and health notions [organic] represents, like [authenticity, purity] and, most importantly, the halo of being free from negative ingredients.”
The Organic and Natural 2012 report, released a few months ago by The Hartman Group, says more than 50 percent of consumers eat organic because the food doesn’t contain “pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives and antibiotics.”
This sounds like great news for owners of restaurants, catering companies and health and food stores, but organic is about more than food. According to MarketLine, the world market for organic food is predicted to exceed $88 million by 2015, a nearly 50 percent increase in five years. Fruit and vegetables represent the leading segment, representing over 30 percent of the overall market.
If you sell organic goods or plan to start, remember consumers have high expectations of your business. They assume you’re going to be more transparent than other companies, so be sure to offer details about the products you sell, and tout your organic edge in your marketing materials.
A trend that started by catering to Jewish dietary needs, kosher food is becoming more varied, more creative and more flavorful. To put it plainly, this is not your Bubbe’s gefilte fish.
With the rise of artisanal, locally sourced, freshly prepared foods having elevated consumers’ taste standards, it’s no surprise that people who keep kosher are demanding better-tasting foods, too. “Kosher food’s playing cultural catch-up,” says one source cited in a New York Daily News report on the trend.
Chefs are getting creative with kosher foods because, well, chefs like to get creative. Food manufacturers, too, are meeting the demand. The Huffington Post spotlighted some of the most surprising kosher foods displayed at Kosherfest last year, including kosher pho, kosher bacon and kosher Thai peanut dressing.
Orthodox Jews aren’t your only clientele (although the growing number of younger people turning to traditional Judaism is helping the trend). The New York Daily News points out that non-Jewish chefs and consumers are a big audience for these products, with Christians, Muslims, Jews, and atheists alike choosing kosher foods because of perceived higher standards and higher quality. Depending on where you live and whether you sell food products online or in a brick-and-mortar store or restaurant, adding kosher items to the menu could bring in a lot of gelt.
If you’re a restaurateur, coffeehouse owner or food vendor looking to boost sales, it’s time to get creative with tea. According to research firm Datassential’s MenuTrends, in 2012 some 74 percent of restaurants that sold beverages had iced tea on the menu, making tea second only to soda in popularity. Hot tea was also popular, sold by 63 percent of the restaurants that sold beverages.
The Tea Association of the USA reports tea purchases have been rising for 20 years. Supermarket sales of tea now top $2.2 billion annually, and out-of-home tea consumption has increased by at least 10 percent a year for the past decade. Statistics show that while coffee drinking is down, tea drinking is on the upswing.
Why the sudden surge in tea? One reason, Nation’s Restaurant News notes, is that tea benefits from a “halo of health.” Customers who are cutting back on caffeine prefer tea to coffee, and new research suggests tea can prevent heart disease, burn calories and even prevent some types of cancer.
Of course, there are as many ways to serve up tea (not all of them healthy) as there are flavors of fruit or types of alcohol. Depending on your interest level and the focus of your business, profiting from tea could mean adding superfood-based teas to your coffeehouse menu, mixing tea with lemonade (another trendy beverage) to stir up an Arnold Palmer at your fast-casual restaurant, or mixing up tea-based cocktails at your bar. (This Nation’s Restaurant News article points out the many ways tea is being used as a drinks mixer.)
Published: July 22, 2013
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