Category: Insights & Quotes

12 Food Industry Megatrends You Can Leverage

 12 Food Industry Megatrends

When it comes to food trends, all too often people mention something limited. A small idea like “I want to introduce something gluten-free that tastes great.” While this captures two important MegaTrends – health & wellness and quality – it doesn’t leverage larger opportunities that can help increase volume potential by simultaneously tapping into more MegaTrends. Remember, volume and margin are the two keys to profitability!

Common trends and business concepts for food businesses my clients and class attendees regularly mention include the following – which are not the MegaTrends:

  • Local, sustainable, animal-friendly, grass-fed, cage-free
  • High protein, low fat, good fat, low sugar, gluten-free, dairy-free
  • Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw
  • Superfoods, antioxidants, probiotics, omegas, natural non-sugar sweeteners
  • Non-GMO, organic, fair trade, halal, kosher
  • Asian inspired, Mediterranean diet, Latin fusion, African flavors
  • Ancient grains, coconut everything, bacon everything, seaweed, crickets / insects, Sriracha, seeds, shrubs
  • Bowls, mashups, munchies, bites
  • Fermented, alcohol-infused, slow food, fast food
  • Food trucks, online-delivery subscriptions, meal kits, boxes, apps, etc.

While these can be very important, and are highly appealing to the right audience, they can also be short-lived. Fads may seem great while the trend is rising, but relying on them can be financially dangerous as they taper off and decline.

  • Remember soy? Once hugely popular for its nutritional value, it’s now an ingredient many consumers avoid, and manufacturers remodel their products to exclude.
  • Not too long ago, agave was viewed as a wonder sugar! Today, like soy, it’s highly controversial.
  • Kale and quinoa, while still highly popular, are starting to be described as “oh-so-passe.”

Terms, too, can go out of style.

Already, words like “artisanal,” “handmade” and “all natural” (which isn’t officially defined by the FDA)  are losing their meaning, raising legal questions, and starting to disappear on manufacturer’s packaging and websites.

Is a product made for thousands of stores out of one facility really “small batch” anymore?

So what are the 12 big ideas or MegaTrends that can stand the test of time?  

These dozen MegaTrends, the really large channels that all trends can fit into, include some that may seem obvious, but are very important. The more of these that you combine into one meaningful package, the greater customer resonance your business can have. And that can translate into stronger awareness, trial and repeat sales!

  1. Absolutes / Controls, e.g. 100 calories, $.99 price point
  2. Adventure, e.g. ethnic, exotic, dangerous, spicy
  3. Comfort, e.g. food you grew up with or wanted to!
  4. Convenience, e.g. ease of use, access, speed
  5. Engagement & Empowerment, e.g. customization, interactive opportunities that create involvement
  6. Grazing / Snacking, e.g. cultural applications of small plates, bites
  7. Health & Wellness, e.g. “better for you” through choice and/or need
  8. Quality, e.g. ingredients, process, branding
  9. Technology, e.g. digital world, apps, processes
  10. Transparency, e.g. source, story, process
  11. Value to the user, e.g. “worth it” – more than just price
  12. Values, e.g. mission, animal cruelty, environment, food deserts, cause marketing

In order to optimize your brand’s volume potential and long term value / relevance, try to leverage something meaningful to your target audience from each of the above MegaTrends.
Consider layering relevant, mission-consistent trends into your offering(s) – whether applied to just one product, or all! If you do – I believe you’ll increase your reasons why customers want to purchase your products and engage with your brand, again and again.

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Interested in profitably growing a meaningful food business? Please contact

Perfection & Respect: Italian Master Chocolatier, Marco Colzani

Insights from Master Chocolatier Marco Colzani, Cassago Brianza, Italy

Marco Colzani, Founder, C-Amaro

Marco Colzani explains his artisan chocolate

Italian Perfection and Respect

Italians are born artisans who care deeply about making products that “have to be perfect,” and “respect the raw materials,” according to Marco Colzani, Founder of C-AMARO and of one of only three bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Italy, who also produces outstanding small batch nut spreads (Sicilian pistachio is #1 seller), fruit and vegetable jams, award-winning roasted coffee, smoothies, candies, and more.

Liquid Orange Marmalade! In tasting Marco’s products – I couldn’t agree more! His Arancia di Sicilia nectar,  for example, is unlike any orange juice I ever tasted.  It’s bursting with ripe Sicilian oranges and only clean, simple, pure ingredients. What makes it exceptional? For 20% of the oranges, he includes the entire fruit – skin, too. The result? It was almost like drinking liquid orange marmalade! Pure fantasy.

Marco’s Advice to Food Businesses Starting Out

  • Start producing.
  • Be very curious about raw materials and machines.
  • Don’t be happy with mediocrity.
  • Be willing to experiment. Try to make your own machines.
  • When it’s good enough to be eaten as-is, don’t fuss with it and ruin it. But most importantly – have respect for the raw materials.

Insights as a Former Oenologist

Making chocolate is very similar to making wine. It’s all about respecting the ingredients while managing the acidity, fermentation, sugar, aroma and blend.

In wine, it’s 70% terroir, 30% genetic. In chocolate, it’s 50 / 50.

What is Perfection?

Marco sees his job as “respecting the different origins” and handling the terroir and genetics of each raw material.


Unlike most American chocolates, Marco’s do not contain soya lecithin or vanilla, and only use two ingredients:

1. Cocoa beans he imports, hand selects and roasts based on the seasonality, crop and country of origin, e.g. Peru, Cuba, Ecuador, Trinidad, San Mateo, Dominican Republic and Venezuela

2. Cane sugar – only for sweetness, not aroma, so he imports raw cane sugar with low molasses from Madgascar and South Africa


Marco made his own equipment.

He recommends “aging chocolate for 4 to 5 months instead of conching,” to allow the tannins to mature without oxidation

To Order

To order Marco’s incredible bean-to-bar chocolates in the US, as well as his outstandingly natural Pistachio Spread and Hazelnut Spreads (you’ll never eat Nutella again) – click here for Gustiamo’s items – and let me know what you think!

Big Thanks

Big thanks to Beatrice Ughi of Gustiamo – Italy’s Best Foods – for connecting me with Italy’s Marco Colzani!

What does Mimi Sheraton See as the Next Big Food Trends?

Mimi Sheraton on Trends, Taste & Being a Critic

Mimi Sheraton Gotham on a Plate

Food author and former NY Times food critic Mimi Sheraton at Gotham on a Plate, co-sponsored by Culinest!

Mimi Sheraton shared her frank, amusing and deeply insightful thoughts on food trends, personal taste, being a critic and more at the recent Gotham on a Plate conference hosted by the New School, and happily co-sponsored by us!

On Food Trends

  • “In the next 2-3 years we’ll hear about West Africa way more on the food scene.”
  • “Expect to see fusion of Mexican, Thai, SE Asian: limi, chili, cilantro (think bahn mi on a taco).”
  • “Unfortunately, supermarkets and specialty stores have more prepared foods, less staff, less time spent with customers – because serving customers and spending time with them hurts margins.”
  • “I think too much attention is paid to the goals of the chef, not to the achievements of the chef. You don’t have to understand it, it’s dinner!”

On Being a Critic

  • “Perfection is the prize. It’s not easy to achieve – and there’s no margin for error.”
  • “Restaurant PR firms will fight it when they get a negative review soon after opening. In my opinion, as soon as a restaurant charges full price, they’re fair game!
  • There’s no point in giving an unknown restaurant a bad review – you’re saying, “Don’t go to this place you’ve never heard of.”

On Her Personal Tastes

  • “Kale? Hate it!”
  • “I tend to like the best, if I can get it. I like a little exotica from far away.”
  • “I don’t like to go downstairs to go shopping – what am I doing in this basement for a box of Wheateena?”

Social Entrepreneurship – What’s Your Why?

Social Entrepreneurship: What’s Your Why?

African Moringa Alliance & UN Members with Terry Frishman

African Moringa Alliance & United Nations members with Terry after her How to Create A Social Business Plan presentation

I’m passionate about layering your mission and values into everything we do together, and help my consulting clients and students consider these factors from the beginning. After all, most people get into the food business for reasons other than just making money! Businesses with strong missions can, and do, lead to real change.

I recently had the eye-opening opportunity to teach a social entrepreneurship class at an event co-sponsored by the African Moringa Alliance, run in parallel to the 59th Commission on the Status of Women at the UN. When building a business, we normally focus on the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘when,’ ‘where,’ ‘how’ and ‘why’ – Who is it for? What to meaningfully offer and do?, and so on. In a social enterprise, we begin with the ‘why.’ Why is this needed? What problem do we want to solve, and what positive solution will our business make?

It was humbling hearing how the women present at the CSW59 event were taking different approaches to meeting challenges including poverty, climate change and lack of access to education… some of the 12 areas highlighted in the UN’s Beijing Platform for Action, with sustainable development goals.

Even if you aren’t primarily a social enterprise, I urge you to ask: Why? Why are you in business, and what can your business do to make the world a better place? What’s your ‘why’?

Amanda Cohen, Chef / Owner, Dirt Candy Advises: What to Do Before Opening a Restaurant & the Future of Tipping

What to Do Before Opening a Restaurant & the Future of Tipping

Amanda Cohen Dirt Candy

Amanda Cohen

Advice from Amanda Cohen, Chef / Owner Dirt Candy, Michelin & NYT 2 Star vegetarian restaurant, which just reopened at a new, larger location 12 weeks ago: Continue reading

Daniel Ceballos, Head Chef & Chief Innovation Officer, Juice Press: Insights & Quotes

Daniel Ceballos, Head Chef & Chief Innovation Officer, The Juice Press: Insights & Quotes

Juice Press

With 24+ locations (Park Avenue South will open shortly) and a wide variety of 80+ juices / smoothies and 70+ raw food offerings, Juice Press has been rapidly growing since 2010.

Daniel Ceballos – Head Chef | Chief Innovation Officer – kindly shared his insights on Juice Press’s success, management, his personal philosophy and more: Continue reading

Food Entrepreneurs at La Marqueta, East Harlem

Lessons from Women Food Entrepreneurs – At La Marqueta

A passionate candy-maker and mom, Laurie Pauker started Laurie & Sons to provide Not-too-Sweet Snacks with a Touch of Surprise. Continue reading

What Makes a Successful Food PR Pitch?

What Makes a Successful Food PR Pitch?

Terry with Michelle Buffardi Pitch Perfect PR

Terry (Culinest) with Michelle Buffardi (Scripps Networks Interactive).

Properly pitching your food product, business or story is key to getting great press coverage.

Michelle Buffardi (Scripps Networks Interactive – The Food Network and Cooking Channel) and Nina Elder (Everyday with Rachael Ray) shared great advice at my recent Pitch Perfect PR class for the Specialty Food Association.
Continue reading

Raising Capital – Two Equity Firms Advise

Raising Capital – Two Equity Firms Advise

Hans Heer Terry Frishman

Hans Heer (Emil Capital Partners) with Terry (Culinest).

When raising capital for your food business, will you know what to do – and what to avoid? Learn from the experts!

Hans Heer (Emil Capital Partners) and Chris Bradley (Mistral Equity Partners) hear lots of investment pitches. Here are their great recommendations from my recent Food Entrepreneurship class. Continue reading

Business Insights – Two Equity Firms Advise

Business Insights – Two Equity Firms Advise

Hans Heer Terry Frishman

Hans Heer (Emil Capital Partners) with Terry (Culinest).

Investors get pitched by a lot of businesses – so they have a really good sense of what works and doesn’t.

Hans Heer (Emil Capital Partners) and Christopher Bradley (Mistral Equity Partners) gave excellent recommendations to students in my Food Entrepreneurship class.
Continue reading

Matthew Wadiak, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Blue Apron, NGI Entrepreneurship Class

Matthew Wadiak, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Blue Apron: Insights and Quotes

Terry Frishman, Matt Wadiak, Rani Yadav (Blue Apron)

Terry, Culinest, with Matthew & Rani Yadav, Director of Marketing, Blue Apron.

For food entrepreneurs who dream about making a difference (while making money!), Blue Apron’s story is incredibly inspiring.
Continue reading

Barry Korn, Chief Ball Counter, The Meatball Shop, NGI Entrepreneurship Class

Barry Korn, Chief Ball Counter, The Meatball Shop: Insights and Quotes

Terry Frishman and Barry Korn, The Meatball Shop

Barry, The Meatball Shop, with Terry, Culinest.

Interviewed Barry Korn, Chief Ball Counter, The Meatball Shop, at Food Entrepreneurship class.

Key Insights & Quotes:
Continue reading

Is Your Business Ready? More Than Half of US Consumers Will Use Mobile Devices to Shop This Holiday Season

Is Your Business Ready? More Than Half of US Consumers Will Use Mobile Device to Shop This Holiday Season*

Mobile shopping!

Mobile devices make researching, comparing and purchasing products online easy.

How can culinary businesses take advantage of this trend and compete effectively, rather than losing customers to someone cheaper?
Continue reading

Matt Lewis, Co-Owner, Baked, 7th NGI Food Entrepreneurship Class

Matt Lewis, Co-Owner, Baked: Insights and Quotes

Terry Frishman and Matt Lewis, Baked

Terry, Culinest, with Matt, Baked.

Interviewed Matt Lewis, Co-Owner, Baked, at 7th Food Entrepreneurship class.
He and Co-Owner Renato Poliafito just published a new cookbook, Baked Occasions, and opened a new location in Tribeca.

Key Insights & Quotes: Continue reading

The Pickled Heron: Insights & Quotes

The Pickled Heron: Advice on Opening a Restaurant

The Pickled Heron

Terry with The Pickled Heron Chef-Partners, Todd Braley and Danielle D’Ambrosio. Continue reading

Jessica Karp, Jordan Brown & Andrew Bonito, Hu Kitchen, 6th NGI Food Entrepreneurship Class

Jessica Karp & Jordan Brown, Co-Owners & Andrew Bonito, Director of Operations, Hu Kitchen: Insights and Quotes

Terry Frishman Jordan Brown Jessica Karp Andrew Bonito Hu Kitchen Natural Gourmet Institute

Terry, Culinest, with Jordan, Jessica and Andrew, Hu Kitchen.

Interviewed Jessica Karp, Jordan Brown, Co-Owners, and Andrew Bonito, Director of Operations, Hu Kitchen, at 6th Food Entrepreneurship class.

Key Insights & Quotes: Continue reading

Luke Holden, Owner, Luke’s Lobster, 5th NGI Food Entrepreneurship Class

Luke Holden, Owner, Luke’s Lobster: Insights & Quotes

Lauren Gibson, Terry Frishman, Luke Holden, Ali Kokot
Terry with Lauren Gibson (far left), Luke Holden and Ali Kokot of Luke’s Lobster.

Interviewed Luke Holden, Owner, Luke’s Lobster, at 5th Food Entrepreneurship class.

Key Insights & Quotes: Continue reading

Key Insights & Quotes: Susan Axelrod, Founder, Love & Quiches

Susan Axelrod: Insights & Quotes

Susan Axelrod
Susan Axelrod, Chairwoman & Founder, Love & Quiches
Key Insights & Quotes shared during Susan’s Crain’s Made in New York presentation: Continue reading

Summer Rayne Oakes, Marketing & Community Engagement Guru, Good Eggs, 4th NGI Food Entrepreneurship Class

Terry Frishman and Summer Rayne Oakes

Interviewed Summer Rayne Oakes, Marketing & Community Engagement Guru, Good Eggs – an online version of a farmer’s market – at 4th Food Entrepreneurship class.

Key Insights & Quotes: Continue reading

Mary Cleaver, Owner, The Cleaver Co., 3rd NGI Food Entrepreneurship Class

Terry Frishman and Mary Cleaver, Cleaver Co.

Interviewed Slow Food Snailblazer Mary Cleaver, Owner, The Cleaver Co. – a successful, sustainable catering, restaurant, cafe and kiosk business at 3rd Food Entrepreneurship class at the Natural Gourmet Institute.

Key Insights & Quotes: Continue reading

Alissa Wagner, Chef & Co-Owner, Dimes, 2nd NGI Food Entrepreneurship Class

Natural Gourmet Institute Week 2

Interviewed Alissa Wagner, Chef and Co-Owner of Dimes, at 2nd Food Entrepreneurship class at the Natural Gourmet Institute.

Key Insights & Quotes: Continue reading

Adam Eskin, Founder & CEO, Dig Inn Seasonal Market, 1st NGI Food Entrepreneurship Class

Adam Eskin Natural Gourmet Institute Food Entrepreneurship
Interviewed Adam Eskin, Founder & CEO of Dig Inn Seasonal Market, at 1st Food Entrepreneurship class at the Natural Gourmet Institute.

Key Insights & Quotes: Continue reading

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