More than 3,000 exhibitors showed off their wares at the 2014 Natural Products Expo West this weekend, from health food to many better-for-you (but still not-so-good-for-you) renditions of popular snack foods. This year’s Expo West buzzed with the energy of a recovering economy and venture capital, including an escalator that advertised dozens of recent acquisitions.
From the array of offerings, including yogurt, popcorn, chia seeds, bars, coconut and plenty of “free-from” foods, emerged three key trends with likely staying power, thanks to their health benefits and alignment with current tastes and demographic trends.
Companies play up plant-based proteins
Proteins derived from grains, seeds, nuts and beans are not new to the natural foods industry. But the phrase “plant-based protein” popped up often as a value proposition, often alongside paleo and/or gluten-free claims. Love Grown Foods blends beans into its brown rice-based O-shaped cereal. Kind makes “plant-based” a key message in its Strong line of savory nut bars featuring Jalapeno and Hickory Smoked flavors. (read more…)
For generations, U.S. growers produced thousands of different varieties of apples with diverse flavors, colors, textures and uses. Years of cultivating only the few types we typically see in supermarkets got us out of the heirloom habit but, while many of the early varieties are lost to us forever, others are having a renaissance as chefs, home cooks and fruit fans find much to like in their varied flavor profiles. Chefs ranked heirloom apples fifth on the list of hot produce trends for 2014 in the National Restaurant Association’s annual survey.
Heirloom apples may be strictly defined as apples that go back centuries, and once in a while some of those varieties are rediscovered in yards and fields that have been neglected for decades, says Claris Ritter, produce manager for Alfalfa’s market in Boulder, Colo. It’s more likely, though, that when we say heirloom apples these days we’re really talking about a broader group that includes heritage and hybrid apples that have been purposely bred to create a new combination of crispness and sweetness. (read more…)
When each of his grandchildren was born, Francis Ford Coppola wrote them a song. He crafted each heartfelt ditty especially for each child, with details about her name or personality. The acclaimed director and winery proprietor puts a similar emphasis on family when it comes to his wine business, calling on his family members for inspiration and even to design labels and marketing campaigns. Coppola sat down to discuss his success in the wine business during an event Tuesday night at the AFI Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md.
Coppola’s family has a history of winemaking in America, beginning in New York’s Italian Harlem, where “my grandfather would get together with some of the paisan from the neighborhood …. and they would order maybe half a boxcar of grapes from the Napa Valley, no doubt from Cesare Mondavi, who was Robert Mondavi’s father and was in the business of supplying grapes for the immigrants around the country to make their own wine,” Coppola said. (read more…)
Supermarkets and quickservice chains deliver when it comes to customer experience, according to a new report from the Temkin Group, which found that H.E.B. provides customers with the top-rated experience, followed by Trader Joe’s, Chick-fil-A and Publix. Grocery and quickservice companies account for 15 of the top 21 companies rated in the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings, which considers 10,000 consumer ratings of 268 companies based on their functional, accessible and emotional experiences.
One of the reasons grocery and quickservice chains performed so well in the rankings is because customers have simpler interactions with those types of companies than they do with companies in other industries such as banks and credit card companies, according to Bruce Temkin, author of the report and customer experience transformist and managing partner for the Temkin Group.
“Customer experience is all about consistently delivering on your brand promises. Many brands in the food industry are doing a really good job,” he said. (read more…)