Guest Column - September 2012
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Foodservice & Concessions

Hot New Food Trends

By Bethe Ferguson

Money-Making Healthy Options

The desire to eat great-tasting, better alternative foods is still a trending item. The problem is balancing your customers' requests with what will turn a profit and actually move off the shelf.

In more news from the IFT show, Superfruits still had tongues wagging across the nation—they're antioxidant- and nutrient-rich. These are pomegranates, starfruits, acai, blueberry and bananas, just to name a few. Superfruits were everywhere; some even sweetened iced coffee with them.

Tailor to your snack bar: Add them to smoothies or serve the juice in your cold drink dispensers. Or, top off ice cream with the fresh fruit.

Especially interesting to the recreation market is the coconut water trend and its promise of improved hydration with lower calories. It's naturally fat and cholesterol free and it has more potassium than bananas or a sports drink. According to NPR's food blog The Salt, "U.S. coconut water sales doubled in 2011, and will reach an estimated $110 million in sales this year."

Tailor to your snack bar: Promote the health benefits on your menus or signs. There are numerous packaged and bulk drink products on the market, in addition to ice cream bars. Or add coconut water to your slush machines and cold drink dispensers.

Twist Up the Classics

Despite the new flavors entering markets every day, people are still asking for familiar favorites. Recreation facilities that want to grow with the expanding globally influenced markets are responding by tailoring traditional favorites to regional tastes. Tweaking a traditional recipe can boost your bottom line and allow you to use existing equipment.

No matter what the flavor craze, companies are making it easy to add local flavors to existing products. Choices range from simple syrups for popular soda drinks to creating new flavored popcorn. Fruit flavored Sno-Kone syrups or popcorn glazes can easily be paired with other regional fruit sensations. Savory popcorn flavors like Garlic Parmesan can also add depth. Also just like hamburgers, you can easily add unique toppings to your nachos for splurge-worthy BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos.

Lastly, don't forget to keep an eye on the trends at festivals and fairs for hidden gems. Recently, Red Velvet Funnel Cakes have been popping up across the midway. Now you can easily bring them to your concession stand.

Now that you know more about the trends, it's up to you to find the right balance for your market. It will take the correct combination of new items to attract attention and tried-and-true classics to keep profits rolling in. Again, keep an eye on your bottom line, top sellers, slow movers, and feedback from employees and customers.

Bethe Ferguson happily balances her time between free-lance writing and full-time positions as the marketing communications coordinator for Gold Medal and mommy/wife extraordinaire. She lives in Cincinnati with her two very spoiled dogs. Visit