One of the most notable shifts in food culture in recent years has been an increasing interest in play, adventure and exploration. People strive to make their meals and snacks into experiences, not just fueling times and a major boost in their quest to discover new flavors and cuisines is the technology on their laptops and in their smartphones.
People now get inspiration from websites and social media for everything from wedding feasts to what’s for dinner on Thursday night. It’s probably not surprising that 70% of consumers use digital food resources at least weekly.
They see a friend’s Facebook post on a favorite restaurant, look up its ratings on Yelp and make a reservation at OpenTable.com. People are inspired to create meals at home by pictures on Pinterest, suggestions on Twitter and recipes at Allrecipes.com.
There’s also the digital buying of food — and its sophistication is both astonishing and seemingly unstoppable, with some people already imagining how Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos’ vision of using drones for deliveries might affect the pizza business. (read more…)
Coffee prices fluctuate with supply, but a severe drought in Brazil and a fungus called coffee rust in Central America have taken a toll on crop yields, sending coffee bean costs soaring this year with the expectation that they’ll go even higher in 2015.
A report earlier this year from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia predicts that climate change will bring more of the same in the future. Arabica bean prices rose at least 72% this year, and they’re likely to continue climbing in 2015, according to Citi Research.
Total global supply is on track to rise 1.5% this year compared to 2013, but it’s the second year of a supply deficit, according to a report by Rabobank earlier this month. And the hit comes as coffee consumption around the globe continues to rise, driven in large part by Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts expansions into new markets, and the expansion of quickservice coffee programs like McDonald’s McCafe line. (read more…)
Food fraud is a problem that has sounded global alarm bells in recent years, from tainted meat in China to last year’s horse meat scandal in the U.K. to the revelation that at least 10% of the cheese labeled “Swiss” sold in supermarkets is actually counterfeit. What until a few years ago was a relatively unexplored area of study will be one of the top five critical global issues the European Commission will tackle in 2015.
Defined simply as “intentional deception using food for economic gain,” food fraud has become easier to detect through sophisticated DNA and other tests designed to detect ingredients down to the molecule, but criminology may play just as important a role as science in preventing food fraud.
“The big area we’re focusing on now is not so much on the latest methods to detect fraud, we’re focusing on understanding the fraudster, why he would commit the crime and why he perceives a fraud opportunity,” said John Spink, director of Michigan State University’s Food Fraud Initiative. (read more…)