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Entries in specialty food (3)

Sunday
Oct132013

Report: More consumers follow chef pins, bring home (Nueske) bacon 

It’s not just affluent retirees buying fresh pasta, specialty mustards and artisan honeys. Nearly 3/4 of all Americans buy specialty food prodCheeses -- like this selection from Iowa's Milton Creamery - lead the pack for specialty food purchasesucts, led by consumers aged 18-24, according to the 2013 Specialty Food Association report. No surprises here: chocolate, coffee, cheese and oils, as well as Italian, Mexican and Chinese food are the top selling categories – while items like quinoa and Greek food are gaining ground.

Good news: Consumers are increasingly bringing home specialty food items for everyday use versus special occasions such as dinner parties, and (thanks Food Network and PBS) they consider themselves better educated about those choices -- as well as what to do when they get their groceries home.

Savoring social: Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter were all noted by more than 50% of those polled as the top social media channels to engage with retailers and restaurants. I follow (and discuss) hundreds of chefs and restaurants on Twitter, but mainly use Pinterest for home menu inspirations and recipes. Are your favorite restaurants using Pinterest to entice you to come in on a Tuesday night?

Going mobile + local: More than 40% of percent of specialty food consumers are buying food on their mobile devices, and nearly half purchase foods with locally-grown ingredients.

Wednesday
Nov142012

4 holiday tips for food freak (new) parents

I am on maternity leave this holiday season so I have more free time than a typical parent. But I am also a new mom, so everything takes me 5x as long as more seasoned parents -- which probably balances things out. With weekly holiday events during the next 7 weeks, I need help to remain gracious (and engaged) with nearly-zero sleep and a newborn in tow. Four ideas that have helped me so far:

Exploring Union Market -- donuts from GBDLoad up locally: Instead of spreading gourmet gift purchases out over a number of stops, think ahead. If you include a food-focused retail destination on your errand list, grab several unique items. You'll be happy you had a few little things stocked up when Saturday (suddenly) rolls around and you have three parties to drop into and no time to grab wine or flowers. And support locations that are family-friendly -- I was amazed and excited by the amount of strollers and ErgoBaby carriers during my first trip to Union Market in D.C. I picked up a number of stocking stuffers and fun treats for around $10, including barrel-aged syrup, charcuterie and savory crackers laced with Old Bay. A stop at a neighborhood wine shop yielded (in about 5 minutes) pumpkin chevre and cranberry brie discoveries and a sparkling wine from Texas, and I was encouraged to set my car seat carrier on the bar and enjoy a glass of spicy cranberry sangria.

Cooking? Simplify: A few of my favorite appetizer contributions with five ingredients or less and ready in less than 30 minutes.


  • Baked brie (use refrigerated pie crusts and your favorite jam)

  • Hot mushroom-crab dip (stir in sherry for a kicky finish)

  • Crisp artichoke cakes (you can sub out a number of vegetables)

  • Baked coconut shrimp (shrimp is also an easy app on its own)

  • Goat-cheese stuffed fresh figs if you can find them, dates if you cant (balsamic drizzle either way)


Pop-up exploring: Plenty of places around DC that spotlight unique food and wine gifts also welcome children. There are a growing number of wineries within a 45-minute drive of DC, many of which offer holiday discounts and treats from local artisan purveyors. Organizations across the region hold holiday bazaars and festivals in November and December, including the Swedish Christmas Bazaar at the House of Sweden and the National Harbor Holiday Festival. Work downtown? The Downtown Holiday Market, F Street between 7th and 8th Streets, opens Nov. 30 and this year features food from Luke's Lobster, Shake Shack and Ris, as well as fair-trade coffee, mini donuts and empanadas.

Delicious gifts for each other: Dates exploring restaurants -- including sitter arrangements -- make a great gift for any food freak and gives each of you something to look forward to throughout the year. Couple a gift card to a new eatery you want to explore with scheduling suggestions (once a month?) and don't forget child card arrangements. The more you plan, the more likely you are to actually go -- and enjoy it. And take the time to pick up the gift certificate if the restaurant tries to charge you to "ship" it -- or better yet, contact another spot that doesn't charge extra for gift card orders. Can't get out? Use the cards for take out, or gather specialty groceries to cook at home together.

Sunday
Nov042012

Specialty Food Report Card: What are you buying … and why?

Specialty Food Magazine released its annual consumer report, revealing a growing interest in the marketplace (66% of U.S. consumers report having purchased specialty foods, up from 59% in 2011) with chocolate (62%), olive oil (59%) and cheese (56%) products leading the way. Have you sipped luxurious hot chocolate from Jacques Torres in NYC, sampled sea salt caramels from Fran’s in Seattle or explored sweets from your local chocolatier? (One of my favorites in NoVa is Artisan Confections) Beautiful, unique treats like these are worth their (relatively) small cost. No one re-gifts chocolate.

NASFT research indicates specialty food consumers are more inclined to shop at farmer’s markets, experiment with new recipes and buy food with a dual purpose, such as a charitible tie-in. A key note for the socmedia set: Facebook leads the way for discussing specialty food items and influencing buying decisions (77%), followed by YouTube (27%) and Twitter (19%). As a Twitter user whose feed is mostly populated with news + insight from chefs, brewers, winemakers and other F&B pros, I think the industry will see significant growth on that platform as well as the visual-heavy Pinterest -- especially among younger buyers – during the coming year.

As we head into the holiday season, what are you buying? Are you devoted to gourmet tea, fresh pasta or 20-year balsamic? And what most influences your purchases – word of mouth, social media, grocery browsing, impulse buys or traditional advertising?