The saying, "the only thing that is constant is change" is only too relevant in the food processing industry. There was a time when consumer and business trends used to change slowly, everyone, the food professional and the customer had an opportunity to spend time analyzing and adjusting to the changes that were taking place, allowing us time to make well-informed decisions. Unfortunately today, as in life, change in consumer and business trends happen rapidly. Changes in the market place may lead to a shift in the demand for a product or perhaps present new business opportunities. I recently spoke with a home-based baker who is supplying the most heavenly biscotti to a small Italian restaurant after they reluctantly decided to retire their pastry person of nine years. I know the decision wasn’t easy, but something had to be done.
The restaurant decided to revamp their menu a bit and instead of heavy desserts, they are going with a variety of heavenly home-made biscotti, served with carefully selected wines. Well, so far so good. In fact they noticed that on some slow evenings, when customer numbers were down, traffic has picked up with folks moseying in for a couple glasses of wine and some biscotti. The place has not had to close their doors yet and the HBB (home-based baker) is crossing her fingers that this will not be a fad, but a trend. I'll keep you posted.
What's the difference between a fad and a trend? A fad is a flash in the pan. It is here today and gone tomorrow. For example, in the 1980's the increased concern about heart disease and blood cholesterol levels lead a company to introduce oat bran as a product to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Although heart disease is still a major concern, we do not hear much about oat bran. Another example of a fad was white chocolate...it really never did quite catch on like some wanted.
A trend is what is about to hit. It is big, bold and just beginning to impact consumers buying habits. Trends indicate real and widespread change. A true trend is enjoyed by a few today, practiced by many tomorrow and practically all next week. Knowing the latest trends is a prerequisite to success and even survival. A good trend spotter knows how to separate a hot new idea from today's passing fad. I’ve studying the trends in the dessert/baking industry since 1984 and there are times when I just want to write a book...