Headed out to LA specifically to check out the new millennial-focused 365 by Whole Foods. 5 STARS!! Totally jealous we don’t have one in NYC.
Trend 1: The emergence of millenial grocery stores like 365 which offer:
- Phenomenal selection of fresh, ready-to-cook, prepared meals, fresh produce, meats, fish and desserts.
- Extensive wine and spirits selection
- On-site restaurants e.g. by Chloe vegan restaurant at 365 (original is in NYC) -super yummy!
- Fun displays and merchandising. Very cool mix of digital and hand-written signage
- Relevant loyalty programs
See below for 3 more emerging trends in food and beverages – especially noteworthy is the incredible growth of LaCroix bottled water (doubled in last 2 years!!) which I discovered thru snapchat! Although now it appears that an activist investment group, Glaucus Research Group, might put the kibosh on all this growth.
Bet before we get to those trends, big shoutout to my friend, Clint Peralta, for once again providing spot-on info on what’s hot and must-see in LA – not only in food, but in general e.g.
- Wax Paper sandwich store in Frogtown – so cool and so delicious. Frogtown is an up-and-coming neighborhood being settled by lots of creative businesses.
- Happier Camper – a Frogtown biz that both restores and builds vintage/retro style campers. Gorgeous pics on their website.
Now, read on below for Trends 2-4.
Trend 2: LaCroix sales are exploding!!
The brand recently came back on to my radar thru Sam Sheffer, the super prolific youtuber and snapmeister. I’d noticed that he was always reaching for a LaCroix and figured he must be promoting the brand. And then today, at both the gigantic 365 and at the tiny Wax Paper sandwich shop, LaCroix had a huge presence. So I did a little research and found this on Business Insider:
- Sales of LaCroix have ballooned from $65 million in 2010 to $226 million in 2015 (doubling in the last two years).
- Shares of the brand’s parent company, National Beverage Corp., have soared nearly 300% to $57 a share.
- LaCroix is now the No. 1 brand of flavored bottled water in the US, with about a quarter of the market share in that category.
- LaCroix’s meteoric rise happened without any traditional advertising. Instead, they invested in social-media marketing and partnerships with bloggers and snappers and their neon-colored packaging grabbed customers’ attention in stores.
- Only a handful of random flavors are available at each retailer that sells LaCroix, so it creates the perception of scarcity. As a result, customers tend to buy their favorite flavors in bulk.
Another watershed moment for the brand: a cake decorated like a 12-pack of lime-flavored LaCroix, was spotted at the newly opened Whole Foods in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
And now, from Wired, news that there is a flavor-generator web toy, MyLaCroix.com, a meme-generator from Nelson Cash, the same creative studio that recently released the Stranger Things type-generator.
Trend 3: Freshness is the most important food characteristic for consumers
Freshness is at the forefront of consumers’ minds when choosing food, according to Packaged Facts and is driving innovation in restaurants and retail.
Four standout fresh ingredients are leading the charge:
- Celery and fennel are spreading rapidly in casual dining and fast casual restaurants.
- Fresh mint is popping up everywhere from sandwiches to salsas. Since mint is part of the arsenal of so many different on-trend cuisines — from Vietnamese to Mediterranean to Mexican — it’s not surprising that chains are starting to pick up the trend, using mint as a kind of shorthand for authenticity.
- Specialty peppers are emerging to pack a punch on menus and at retail. 3 trending varieties are shishito, Peppadew and ghost pepper.
- Fresh, local fruit in cocktails is in high demand. Farm-to-glass offerings appeals to food-savvy customers and boosts premium alcohol sales. Cocktail culture is becoming more influential, providing new opportunities for fruit of all types.
Trend 4: Street food from around the world provides menu inspiration to U.S. fast casuals.
A wide range of international street foods have burst onto the scene from Mexican tacos and Vietnamese pho to Turkish kebaps.
- The role of tacos in the street-food universe cannot be denied (it is the largest individual food-truck category).
- Los Angeles chef Roy Choi and his Kogi food truck’s fusion Korean tacos provided a gourmet halo to the food-truck industry. Kogi’s tacos melded Mexican-style tortillas with Korean barbecue and kimchi.
- San Diego’s The Taco Stand replicates the atmosphere of Tijuana taco stands. “We grew up going to the taco stands on the corners and the streets there,” says co-owner Julian Hakim.
- Many Asian cultures have a noodle soup dish. Pho-King Awesome offers its own version of pho, which is very close to the Cambodian version of the dish. Among Pho-King’s street-food influences are beef skewers, egg rolls, and the spicy Asian taco, which has seasoned stir-fried chicken topped with green chile, cilantro, onions, and lime.
- Empandas, a top Latin American and South American street food has found its way to America, including 5411 Empanadas with seven units in Chicago and one in Miami. It was started by three friends from Buenos Aires; 5411 is the international dialing code for the city.
- Pinchos—food cooked or served on a spike, which is pincho in Spanish—are the main ingredients at the fittingly named Pincho Factory, which has seven Florida locations.
- The Turkish kebap is the signature item at Austin, Texas–based VERTS Mediterranean Grill. It’s called a pita at the fast-casual chain because Americans recognize that term.
- Piadina or piada, which is a filled Italian flatbread has become the namesake item at Piada Italian Street Food, a Columbus, Ohio–based chain with nearly three dozen units in seven states.
- Indian street foods dot the menu at Curry Up Now, which has grown from a single food truck in 2009 to include five trucks and four restaurants in and around San Francisco.
- World Street Kitchen focuses on global street foods. Owner and chef Sameh Wadi. “I grew up eating street foods in the Middle East, and it’s the type of food people eat in the rest of the world.”
- Heritage Eats in Napa, California, is another restaurant inspired by global street foods. It focuses on using locally sourced and heritage proteins, such as Berkshire pork from Niman Ranch and akaushi beef from Beeman Family Ranch.