3 FOOD TRENDS & TACTICS: Northern California

Here at Cure[ate] we're constantly assessing food trends throughout the nation, city-by-city, and down to your product's viability in hyper-local neighborhood capacity. Starting at the macro level, what are the "it" trends from one city to another? By navigating the narratives that each city culture taps into, it's easier to establish how your product fits into the mix. 

We took a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea & San Francisco to delve into one of the US's most noted culinary scene. Here are three of our noted trends and tactics. 

1. Tasting Rooms

We're all familiar with the concept of demoing food and drink products. You stroll through a market and there are little samples being passed out or even a person there telling you about their story and company mission. Tasting Rooms are the monetization of demos. And it is brilliant.

People stroll throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea tasting different vineyards varietals starting as early as 11am. You pay around $20 for 4 generous pours and learn about the history around each bottled grape. The businesses have a captive audience for at least 30 minutes to an hour, that are directly engaging with their brand. Mind you, not every type of food & beverage company can pull this off as well as wine can (margins, labor, etc). But, think outside of the box. Think about creating a unique experience around your shrink. Your product is about to spoil, how can you make money off of a product you're about to throw away? Yeah, you can offer a sale or a deal, but think about how you can engage the community on a deeper level and offer a VIP tasting. Perhaps a weekly pop-up tasting room if you will. 

2. Specialty Drinks

Coffee will always be all the rage, and even more so with direct trade and local roasting becoming increasingly popular. But consider the option of adding or expanding a specialty drink menu. Offering a unique product that is unlike your competitors will go a long way in driving new customers and increasing basket size. While the familiarity and necessity for coffee may draw customers in, the additional experience created will keep them coming back. It could be as easy, and as profitable, as thinking about unique drink options. 

San Francisco has a booming food scene and one of the top up-and-coming companies is Boba Guys. Three things are working for Boba Guys: 1. BRAND: the quirkiness of their voice; 2. TASTES GOOD: well thought out flavor combinations and uniquely brewed teas; 3. AUDIENCE: the existing interested food culture and growing tourism population from the East where Boba is a go-to beverage -- these guys have got this specialty drink market cornered. How can you become the "thought leader" in your space? Consider those three main points: BRAND VOICE, PRODUCT QUALITY, TARGET AUDIENCE. 

3. Corporate Wellness

Eating healthy is not a new concept, in fact, we could bargain that most people nowadays are catching onto the “food as medicine” movement — consciously thinking about food and other substances being put into our bodies. That being said, no other city encapsulates this healthy food movement in the corporate space as much as San Francisco does. Blame it on the weather, accessibility to local produce nearly year round, or the overall mentality of San Franciscans, but this sector is booming and it will continue to be for quite some time. 

Take Airbnb, for example. Their in-house corporate dining program feeds over 700 employees breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every meal is well thought out down to compostability of the aftermath of your meal. If something is not made in-house (even their almond milk is made in-house!), they source local — e.g. kombucha, beer, and wine on draught. 

Think about your product and how it fits into the ever-evolving food & beverage space. What can you do to maximize profits in the near-term? How can you ensure that you have a unique value proposition? And what are the ways you can tap into changing food trends and capitalize on new wellness movements? 

Contact Cure[ate] today, we’ll work with you on creating these opportunities. 

GLOCALKim Bryden