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Editor's Note: Crystal-ball predictions

Fiona Robinson, Associate Publisher/Editor
Fiona Robinson, Associate Publisher/Editor
January 01, 2011

This is the time of year when restaurant and retail analysts put on their thinking caps and announce lists of food-related trends for the coming year. While some are cutting-edge, others are clearly softball predictions that could be made from the couch.

"Supermarket Guru" Phil Lempert made several retail-related predictions for 2011, including that seafood from the Gulf will become the epicenter of the food world. Chefs and retailers will rally to support businesses and product from the region in the aftermath of the BP oil spill. He also mentions a new aspect to customer service that will be addressed by mobile devices. Consumers with web-enabled smartphones can download a free application that scans products labeled with special bar codes called "smart tags." These tags allow consumers to download everything from marketing messages to coupons while shopping in a store. It's pretty neat technology - when it works.

The National Restaurant Association also enters the prediction business with its What's Hot in 2011 list. The hot item of sustainability overlaps with its inclusion of sustainable seafood. All businesses are mentioning sustainability in some manner, whether it borders on "greenwashing" or not. To say sustainability is hot is a little bit of an understatement - at this point you could stick a fork in it.

The NRA list also includes locally sourced meats and seafood as a "hot" item. While many recent surveys have documented that consumers increasingly desire local foods, they also still shop on price and don't always want to pay higher prices for local product. Lempert also has a "local" prediction - that consumers will become aware that the products they want can't always be sourced within a 100-mile radius of the local grocery store. As such, consumers will begin to take a more regional approach to their food shopping, Lempert predicts.

Yet another crystal-ball list is the Technomic "11 for '11" trends, which puts food trucks as one to follow. Contributing Editor Joanne Friedrick investigated the trend in this month's Business Trends column. The Shrimp Pimp truck in California is one such truck with a seafood twist. Owner Neil Macleod is learning the ins and outs of not just important truck placement, but also social media outlets such as Twitter.

No matter what retail or restaurant trend you're hot to follow, I wish you a happy and prosperous 2011.

January 2011 - SeaFood Business 

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