Consumers want choices and therefore expect innovations from manufacturers, retailers and the food and beverage industry. The food and beverage industry as a whole is prepared to respond to consumer demands, with certain dynamics between manufacturers and retailers being played out to address market share demands. With that being said, let’s have a look at the current and emerging trends influencing the dynamics of our industry.
TEA – Tea is one of the hottest new categories under beverage trends. It is very much up on the trendsetter scales. Tea trends are becoming more and more obvious in society, especially among younger people. One of the most recent is using tea as a topping or as an ingredient in everyday favorite foods and drinks. Tea is even popular in the bars; it is being mixed into many different drinks.
COFFEE – The coffee category is a hot beverage trend in and of itself. It seems as though every week there is a study released or an interesting article written about some aspect of coffee. MediaPost reported that Packaged Facts predicted a 17% increase in coffee sales in 2011, jumping to $7.3 billion. Premium coffee is another trend in the category, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. In Brooklyn, N.Y., coffeehouse Café Grumpy sells $12-cups of coffee—and people are shelling out for it. One of the most expensive coffees in the world, kopi luwak, which is made by harvesting coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of a tropical cat, sells for $75 a jar at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in New York City and has been a growing trend and delicacy abroad.
Outdoor or Indoor/Outdoor Beer Gardens – They will boom around the country, especially at restaurants and breweries with unused backyards, oversized parking lots, or available rooftops. The bigger, the better. Good, cheap beer, often at five bucks a pop, and unchallenging food like pretzels, hot dogs and burgers, draw crowds seeking a fresh air alternative to indoor bars or lounges. Movable roofs and warmers make them year-round businesses. Topping them all is Birreria, a Batali/Bastianich 10,000 sq.ft. rooftop extravaganza in New York with its own microbrewery, wine from barrels, operable roof and terrific alpine-type food.
Moscato – Food & Wine’s executive wine editor, Ray Isle, noted American-made moscato has been on the rise in recent years. Now, the big-name brands are rushing to jump in on the trend. This wine is slightly sweet, light, and very approachable, Isle stated in an interview with Fox Business, and he went on to say that some people have talked about it like it’s the next white zinfandel.
Food-Friendly, Low-Alcohol Wines – Sommeliers have long been advocates for lower alcohol wines (below 14% ABV) because of their great compatibility with food. European wines generally have lower alcohol than their New World counterparts and are specifically made to complement the cuisine of their native lands, which explains the predominance of European producers on many restaurant wine lists. Ripe, over-extracted, high-alcohol wines have the effect of overpowering most foods. New World winemakers (and wine drinkers) are becoming wise to this fact and have begun to abandon the over the top, sometimes out of balance, style that was the long-standing fashion. In the year ahead, look for lower-alcohol wines coming out of regions such as Napa and the Willamette Valley. Not only will these low-alcohol wines enhance your dining experiences, you won’t be bowled over by the first glass!
Apptails – Mini-cocktails, offered as a muse, “wet” the appetite before the drinks and meal to come. They create a sense of generous hospitality, while enticing guests to try beverages from the bar program. We’ll drink to that!
Taptail – First it was cask-aged cocktails, which are pre-measured mixed drinks that have been barrel-aged for added nuance. Now mixed drinks are available on tap, barrel or not. It’s the new Manhattan project. It’s quick and convenient.
Example: Cask-Aged Negronis at Clyde Common (Portland, OR).
Liquid Diet – Chefs and cocktail experts are distilling all the flavors of a complex, integrated dish into liquid form. Alcohol may or may not be included.
Example: Sourdough Grilled Cheese Sandwich Infused Vodka served up as a martini at Lafitte (San Francisco, CA).
Let it Snow – First there was shaved ice, now there is shaved ice cream as Snow Ice comes to America. Offering the flavor and creaminess of ice cream with unbelievably light texture, Snow Ice is sure to please. Break the cone of silence and scream for Snow Ice.
Spheres – Glass-like spheres of ice in all shapes and sizes will be at the bottom of your favorite beverages.
Double Hitter – Bars are pitching double-hitters with offers of a cocktail or shot and a beer to chase it with. Call it a one-two shot.
Examples: “$25 Bourbon, Burger & Beer” at Fifth Floor (San Francisco, CA); “Beer & a Shot” at Hogs & Rocks (San Francisco, CA).
Drinks with Drive – The food truck craze has extended to drinks, as cocktail trucks are taking to the streets and spirits brands seek to build recognition.
Examples: Leblon Cachaca Caipirinhas Truck (multiple locations, nationwide); BrewTruc (San Francisco).
Japanese Craft Beers – They will gain a following. They’re already making inroads on beer-centric menus and Asian influenced restaurants, and they give lots of local artisan brews a good run for their money.
Brewfruity – Breweries are adding fruit to beers of all types. This new fruit juice adds a little hop to your step.
Dress’n – All-natural artisanal garnishes and blends showcasing the flavors and textures of your beverage offerings, by Dress The Drink.
The Bubbles – Grower champagne producers and smaller champagne houses are becoming more and more popular as bubbly lovers everywhere discover the world beyond Dom Pérignon, Krug and Cristal. Of course, we’ll never turn down a glass of Veuve Clicquot, but there are so many other high-quality, great value champagnes out there. Grower champagne producers are grape farmers who make their own champagne using the grapes they grew themselves, as opposed to the bigger houses that buy them in. While these small, artisanal producers lack the marketing power of the ubiquitous big brands, their champagnes are gaining recognition and are the new fashion.