New Horizons

Updated: Jan 21

FOOD AND BEVERAGE TREND 2021

divinAmerica focuses the lens on the horizon and beyond.



Shootin' for the Moon: Rooftop Reveling

Whether topside, curbside or wayside, operators are retooling and shaping new opportunities to entice folk willing to support their favorite businesses. Those enticing new or winning back guests rely on a blend of fresh air in open venues supplemented with filtered and calibrated air sheltered appropriately to help control the climate. Do choose wisely so that your solution indeed pays a dividend. Open minded and mindful citizenry in pursuit of amenities and a meal in quarters of trusted operators will support your business given the go ahead from the local health authority. Leadership must provide their target audience an authoritative and convincing pledge for sanitary and safe conditions. Solutions from manufacturers and rental companies for housing may be focused on the furnishings, bars, lighting, HVAC, and housing. The very same housing designs for quick healthcare drive through may prove to be a viable solution for your own adjacent temporary drive-up or drive through option.

Hot Toddy Anyone? From Low to No Alcohol Cocktails; Third Wave Coffee; Homebound guests are transitioning to "in-speriences" all manner of the otherwise catered beverage experiences.

As clientele are sticking close to home and many are looking to round the comfort food experience with familiar (though tantalizing when well crafted) mainstays like Tom and Jerrys to settle in after the meal or to kick it off with classic aperitifs. 19th and 20th century concoctions of the kind are reappearing and at pandemic-compliant intimate gatherings in particular. Your own house-made ferments, tinctures and tonics will remain popular through the foreseeable future. In these times of uncertainty, it is little wonder there’s a resurgence of revisited libations that are laden with soothe-settling spice and everything nice that transports one to a time less tragic or transports us to a tempered future. Spring and Summer botanicals added in the form of fresh herbs, their flowers or roots muddled to paste or steeped as teas to complement ambrosial infusions or to add spice or heat to all manifestations of the great distilled spirits and their ilk that are sourced, it seems, everywhere from your back yard to exotic ports of call. Feature these and other spirited libations, beer and wine to your digital menus to build sales and quantify your liquor liability expense. Over ⅔ of those that ordered beverages with alcohol to go with their delivered or curbside meals pledged to continue the trend. Drink kits, with and without alcohol that may include a formula, technique with everything one needs to shake and serve at home to flutes with sparklers and custom cocoas with toppings and your logo mugs are effective merchandising means to greater inventory turnover.

Global coffee consumer evolution in the West is being summarized at this writing as occurring in three waves. The First Wave of coffee included a raised consciousness of coffee as elemental to the 1960's lifestyle. Premiumization whereby folk sought quality over utility and began the dive into the exotic with single-finca espresso to flavored frozen frappés served by skilled baristas describes the second wave. Ethically, socially and environmentally thoughtful source-to-consumer ultra-premium coffees are likely to grow in popularity as the economy imposes shortages on commodities. Innovative brewing technology, fair trade, biodiversity and high quality coffee experiences will remain strong through the year. Not without a nod to the past where hand-grinders and systems that mimic the brew time of pour-over flavor capture will remain at the crest of the wave.

The Seed is Planted and Thriving

While many remain opposed to processed and highly processed or refined foods as are a number of vegan proteins at this writing, a steady measure of Americans are eating less meat, buying meatless options and looking for alternatives. Although there are many like tempeh and tofu that may seem mundane and literally centuries in the making and marketing many of the emerging products are deeply rooted in those traditions. Now presented in shiny new packaging in the form of Beyond Meat brand, artisan Adzuki bean tofu or wild rice and lentil based tempeh, a gluten free option. All now available and savvy merchandisers are positioning choices directly beside, adjacent or across from animal proteins in meat cold cases. Not just for raw protein preparations but meat-like cold cuts and other traditional charcuterie analogues. Some categories of vegan and vegetarian option sales have slowed for those retailers who choose to merely supplement their otherwise animal protein-based product line or menu offerings. A fresh approach is to make a go of it from the vegan and vegetarian protein merchandising angle that opts for those items to be the featured case items and incorporating animal protein as subordinate and in a softer merchandising role. Some food developers are reaching back to the 1960’s to retrieve formulas and ferments that, in a time past, had risen to the shelf only to be ousted by more popular, faster moving products. For now and the foreseeable future, whether retro, revived or retooled, plant proteins and plant-based foods and beverages are a means to profitable growth. The retail industry as a whole is citing terrific year over year numbers in growth today and are projected to continue the upward trend.

Food as Medicine

From parable to practice but never has there been more of a focus on nutrition and the need for it system wide than now. From at risk food banks to fancy food boutiques, we all need it, we all want it, and it has to be good. By good, we mean tasty and nutritious. There is a long held theory that food is best, most nutritious, when it is grown and consumed close to the soil whence it came. A formal study is underway at this writing to vet the facts and analyze the food values from local foods as compared to foods that arrive from distant locales. To our view, until associated science is accepted and published as such, we can account for the matter of gaining the highest value from local foods on our balance sheets and our condition of health. A startup engaging the food as medicine concept (and zero waste) is Farmacy Food, a Detroit based producer bent on utilization, local sourcing and fortification of the concept that food influences our health directly. "Nutrition from the ground up" wholesome, organic and direct from the region for the region's people is the mission for Basics markets or Oregon. Their model of vertical integration provides its own line of organic products. Researchers across the nation including the Center for Preventive Cardiology at OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute seek to link consumption of nutrient rich foods as measurable preventive measure for wellness.

Adjusting to the New World Order Through Inclusion: Fostering Forward Indigenous and Migrant Foods and Facts

Cooks and mix masters of all stripes, professional and at home are meal and menu planning with celebration, sincerity, respect and inclusion. Certainly all of the recorded receipts and historical records are game for updating. Trending beyond historical record, folk are looking back and reflecting on a time when grandmas spoke of a dish that fascinated youthful wonder giving shape to a family dish served in season and for that moment. Not just a family dish but a tradition. And by back, we mean way back when there was nothing but the spoken word and a world where tradition included the hunt and gathering of wildlings in addition to the fruit of farmed crops whose seed and soil were tended with the blessing of Mother Earth in trust. Trust that there would be enough care and reverence for all to produce what is necessary and with little impact if not an effort to amend it for those to come.

In an effort to provide foods that are good for guests and the planet, cooks are demonstrating a respect for ancient cultures: indigenous and endemic or brought to bear especially now by our country’s new administration's policy to, once again, allow the migration of souls with their seeds. Wapato, camas and nodding onions are finding their way to menus above the 45th parallel while southern cooks are incorporating saguaro syrup, Seri oregano and mesquite flour into tortillas to tinctures, soups to stews, confections and beverages. Mahonia berry leathers, sea palm pickles, steeped botanicals and decoctions of native bark and roots for unusual and in cases, superb flavorings that emanate from both fire and ice .

Single subject cookbooks are a favorite and chef author Jenn Louis’ new production of recipes for chicken soup is among the collections of recipes that arrived just in time. The Chicken Soup Manifesto covers the subject in depth and with recipes that you’ll either reproduce faithfully and with confidence or draw inspiration in a number of ways. Her global selection of soup recipes underscores those cultural flavors that resonate to Americans now and beyond. Another fine resource for modern recipes adapted from the many disparate cultures of the Western Hemisphere that offers context and content to inspire inquisitive cooks to look beyond borders for flavors to add to their local foods is Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions by yours truly.

Nationalism aside we're a nation whose slim majority embraces concepts of pride of place where food is concerned. People of color continue to share their wisdom and ways through the creative concepts they present to their dining public. A vote with your hard earned dollars to support food producers of all languages especially when they translate to the English so we can engage and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Native American foodways are ever on the rise in consciousness and context. The foods, and there are a multitude, as common as tomatoes and popcorn!

Drive Through and the Case for Flexing the Plan to Include the House

Winning formula from the outset has included owning the house lock, stock and barrel but never more so than at this moment. If you’re planning a business, plan for the real estate too where possible and apply design considerations for site positioning and buildout to serve you today and the real estate for tomorrow. Considering the uncertainty of business conditions with lessons learned and unlearned through the pandemic hardship at hand or to come, all avenues lead to your business, literally if you have systems for drive through, curbside pick up and self-delivered or contracted for delivery by others. The entire industry across all spectrums is adjusting by offering manifestations of these touchless options. Private clubs, hospital cafes, markets, grocers, and restaurants alike, all those that want to compete are getting on board or planning for their next call to action to utilize a form of these models.

There’s No Time Like the Present to Save Our Planet

The entire nation can synchronize their clocks because the incoming administration is too. #cutoutcutlery and #shuggiestrashpie&naturalwine are participating in the move to cease the take out plastic that’s toppling trash bins and maximizing the use of foods by transforming the nutritional attributes of foods less than perfect into delectables. Get your green on and keep an open mind to the increasing number of options. From abstention - let them eat at home with their own flatware - or by using transformational materials like plant resin that dissolves quickly, at times, even before you’re finished eating! When you do supply the products, do choose the best products for the price to keep your dollars working value that includes repeat business from a good to great experience with their take out. Good news is that there are good to great options at hand and there are many more in progress.

Producers of plant-based proteins including fish-like analogues are crankin' it up with a stated collective mission based on humane animal treatment and giving the planet a breather from the detritus of trampled ground, effluence and the dregs of slaughterhouses and fish plants. If you're among those that like the texture of cooked flesh then this is nearly the stuff of your dreams. Up is the only way these products will go with respect to improving mimicry of cooked animal and fish protein texture, taste notwithstanding. To counter, watchdogs are all over the algae and sea plant aquaculture as it tests developer's ability to manage coastline and citizen pressure for pristine shorelines.

Petri proteins? From pollack to tuna ready to launch products, they are on the shelves and in the works with a premise that should society choose to continue the pace to eat animal or animal-like proteins, this product will resonate with a ready consumer.

Are you willing to forgo the fodder in exchange for a promise of minimizing impacts on natural resources and a much smaller footprint. Where do you stand on the matter? We value your opinion - drop a line to hello@divinamerica.com

Innovation is the Standard

If grocery grab and go with their legions of quick service foods can displace restaurant mealtime traffic, so too can restaurants present retail products to their list of offerings to be picked up or delivered with their newly expanded off-premise product line. Your specialty cutlery, china and service wares, and for some operations, your cleaning supplies are all game for creative retail sales opportunities. Quick service operators are selling and promoting unconventional products ranging from flour to paper towels. Convenience remains king and motivated consumers that want to minimize their social exposure are modifying their buying habits. What's your next best opportunity to move inventory, increase cash flow and boost sales?

Necessity to form your strategies to a short-term but tactically decisive plan with key drivers that can pivot to accommodate a perpetually changing business landscape is the order that we must incorporate into the mantra if we are to gain ground at this tumultuous crossroads. We’re here to help you - Let’s talk!



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