About the author: Janet Forgrieve | SmartBlogs

Janet Forgrieve Janet Forgrieve is a freelance writer and SmartBrief contributor who writes for restaurant and retail briefs. A former business journalist, Janet spent several years covering the restaurant and retail industries for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida and spent six years covering business at The Tampa Tribune.

Tight economic times, trends toward healthier dining and new seasonal flavors may drive us to change our dessert habits at times, but Americans still want to indulge in after-dinner sweets and, when they do, it’s most likely they’ll be having something chocolate. More than two-thirds of restaurant menus boast at least one chocolate dessert, with vanilla a far-off second at about 40%, according to Datassential, and many restaurants are seeing that old classics with new twists, as well as desserts that offer guests a different way of dining, are trending with consumers today.[…] Continue Reading »

Mayor Bloomberg’s push to outlaw over-sized sugary drinks in New York City didn’t succeed, but that and other efforts, including upcoming “soda tax” ballot measures in San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif., have kept the debate going about the health consequences associated with the drinks we consume, and helped fuel a shift toward healthy beverages.

Last month, the American Beverage Association and major soda companies joined with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in a voluntary effort to reduce beverage calories consumed by 20% by 2025.[…] Continue Reading »

America’s foodies have educated themselves about different cuisines and exotic ingredients through travel, food TV shows, social sharing sites and even old-fashioned word-of-mouth, and the most adventurous among them are fueling the rising popularity of chefs’ tasting menus. Paradoxically, the more they know, the more many want to be surprised and delighted rather than dictate each course.[…] Continue Reading »

Small specialty food producers have more opportunities than ever before to get the word out about their products and build their businesses, from blogs and social sites to crowdfunding sites to third-party online retail partners.

Online sales of packaged goods, including foods, are on track to hit $53 billion by 2016, according to Kantar Worldpanel. In the U.S., sales will hit $25 billion this year, up 13% from 2013, and they’re on track to reach $32 billion next year, according to Nielsen.[…] Continue Reading »

Wine has traditionally been a pleasure to be shared, from bottles sipped over an intimate dinner to tastings and clubs that bring out the crowd. Now, with the rise of digital technology and social media, the crowd isn’t limited to just consuming, or even a specific region, and wineries are starting to use crowdsourced investments, opinions and winemaking to build brand awareness and get consumers involved.[…] Continue Reading »