Tag Archives: alcoholic beverages

The Current Economy’s Effects on Alcohol Trends

Cocktails; mage from MorgueFileThe world today is on a new alcohol horizon or at least a more innovative and uniquely individual one.  What’s spurred this?  From more minimal splurging to pop culture inspired throwback cocktails many of the current alcohol trends are rooted in the down economy.

In the past few years, alcohol sales have been less than stellar overall.  However, some categories were down more than others.  More expensive choices such as wine (down 10.8 percent in 2009) and spirits with higher price points (down 5.1 percent by volume in 2009) have fallen by the way side as more economical choices have gained ground, according to an article by Martinne Geller.  While some restaurant goers are still passing up the alcohol option, it is now a bit more inexpensive to enjoy a libation with options such as wine-by-the glass.

However, many people are simply forgoing the experience of eating outside the home all together and simply grabbing a 6-pack to enjoy with a nice meal at home.  According to worldclassbeverages.com, “2009 saw an increase of 7.2% in the sales of craft beer while the overall beer industry struggled with a 2.2% decline.”   This demand for specially crafted brew has also led to a massive amount of operating breweries.  In 2009, there were 1,595 breweries operating in the U.S. which is the highest total since before Prohibition, according to Brewer’s Associaiton.   The BA also approved a new definition of what craft beer itself really means this year, allowing for craft to stand for any independent brewery that produces up to 6 million barrels of traditional beer (up from a previous 2 million).   For brewery workers, this all leads to the hope of more jobs and eventually a better economy.  For consumers, craft beer simply stands for a higher quality with more attention to detail.  Even though a shopper may pay a bit more for a craft brew than a domestic, since they aren’t splurging on items like take-out or restaurants, they feel that they can spend just a bit more and enjoy a higher quality beverage.

This stay-at-home drinking trend has also led to a push that would allow alcohol sales to boost the economy in another way.  Several states have pushed for a repeal of the, sometimes centuries old, blue laws.  Blue laws were originally put into places to provide Christians with an alcohol-free (and in some places real-estate and car sale-free) day of Sabbath, according the SUNY Potsdam Alcohol Problems and Solutions site.  Many nowadays think these laws are not only out-dated, but could be preventing a great deal of tax dollars from being raised due to an entire day void of sales.  In an article on ABCnews.com, Lisa Hawkins of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said, “Blue laws … simply don’t make sense in today’s economy. They inconvenience consumers and deprive states of much-needed tax revenue.”   According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, 36 states now permit the sale of distilled liquor on Sunday, 14 of which have joined the list since 2002.  Now with a downturn economy and an upswing in take-home alcohol purchases, many states and communities are pushing for these laws to be gone and to allow Sundays and local (and imported) liquor to help boost the economy.

Like money, fame has always played a hand in trends as well and the new wave of alcohol trends is no exception.  With characters on popular shows (mostly of the cable variety) swilling drinks left and right, it’s not hard to believe that pop culture could have an influence of the adult beverage industry.  However, unlike the influence of shows like Sex and the City that brought in high-priced fruity drinks, this new cocktail movement is a little bit masculine and a lot more of a throwback.  Recently, the tides have turned towards the more traditional drinks served straight or pre-prohibition style.  Thanks to shows like AMC’s Mad Men and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, bars are now catering more to the harder stuff than in the recent past.

So why is the modern, i-Pod listenening, 3-D watching, technology driven crowd looking back to drinks inspired by the 60’s and even the 20’s?  It could be due to the idea that during a downturn economy people look to more prosperous times with feelings of nostalgia.   Possibly best summed up in an article on consumer trends on euromonitor.com, “..in a world where everything is possible, where anything can happen, people are looking for certainties.”  People today are more interested in exploring drinks that were great in the past, and perhaps improving on them, than creating some new, crazy cocktail.  If ordering a simply Scotch was good enough back in the 60’s, why shouldn’t it be good enough now?

There may also be a trend towards the more straightforward ways of the past.  “I expect mid-century brands and cocktails to continue the climb back to the mainstream as American culture begins to reacquaint itself with authenticity,” said Dean Phillips of Phillips Distilling Company in an article on trends on Signature9.com.   For many it’s not even simply the alcohol involved in these wistful drinks.   As stated in an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the Pre-Prohibition drink scene, “The fruit juices are fresh-squeezed, not pre-bottled. The bitters are home-mixed, not store-bought.  And the cocktails themselves take five to 10 minutes to prepare…”  Because so many people are going out so much less frequently, it’s drinks like these, prepared with care and the best of the best ingredients, that will get them to splurge a bit and easy their mind a little when they are spending about 19 cents more per cocktail (according to the NRN).

Eventually, the economy will swing back up and new drinks will come along. But for now, the economy has inspired drink trends that will lift your mood and hopefully save your pocket book.

10 Foodservice Trends for 2011

Within days we will say goodbye to another year and will welcome a new one. In 2010, there were many new foodservice trends; Gourmet-on-the-Go, “Fine Fast” Sandwich Shops, Boutique Booze and Eggs All Day are just a few of the trends mentioned in a Convenience Store News article. While many of the trends that began this year will continue on, many new ones are on the rise.  Here is a look at what some sources are reporting for the New Year.

1.      Food Trucks

In a Foodservice Equipment and Supplies (FES) article on upcoming trends, they bring up the food truck. We’ve seen and/or heard about them and they have even made headlines in Chicago for banning them. More food trucks may begin to appear in 2011—and what makes them different than in the past according to the article is the fact they are being used as “brand extensions and catering aids.”

2.      New Cuts of Meat

“Newly fabricated cuts of meat” is an upcoming trend described by Missy Frederick of the Washing Business Journal. She asks, “Have you heard of a Denver steak? The pork flat iron, the Petite Tender?” These are what chefs are saying will be a hot trend for the upcoming year. While these will become more popular, it will be interesting to see if there is any downfall when new guidelines go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, making it mandatory for there to be labels on raw meat and poultry.

3.      Hyper-Local

Buying from local business has been increasing in popularity over the past few years. Some restaurants are taking local to an even further level—they are growing their own products and doing their own butchering. In another article by Frederick, she discusses this trend and says places like Restaurant Eve and Bourbon Steak are already being hyper-local and more restaurants may move this way in the New Year.

4.      Social Media

Social media has been on the rise for quite some time and its popularity is as high as it’s ever been—especially for businesses and restaurants.  In the Harvard Business Review, they say 2011 “will be the year these companies take a look at integrating social media, not only regionally, but globally.” Many different news sources are pointing out the importance of social media, and we might see it being such an important marketing tool for 2011 that some of those who aren’t using it might be missing out.

5.      Sophisticated K-12 Cafeterias

This is what is titled in FES’s “Top Design Trends for 2011.” Currently, many college campus cafeterias have the open food court with several different food concepts and registers scattered throughout. According to this article, grade, middle and high school cafeterias might move in this direction.  This could possibly work hand in hand with the fight against childhood obesity as more concepts would provide children with more variety in healthier choices.

6.      Better Nutrition

We have reported on health and nutrition in our blog and it’s been heavily covered in news articles all around the country.  Many different news sites are discussing 2011 being a year of healthier food trends—not only for schools but also restaurants and fast food chains.

7.      Alcoholic Beverages

A recent Nation’s Restaurant News article says alcoholic beverage sales will increase next year.  This ranges from people entertaining guests at home and also in restaurants. FES mentions this in an article and says “’Mad-Men’ style retro cocktails, high-cachet gin and bourbon, craft beers and punch (including sangria)” will be on the rise.

8.      Mom and Pop Shops

While these could have some competition with those food trucks we just mentioned, Restaurant Hospitality says we will see more “mom and pop” shops popping up. They describe these as “self-financed and self-built restaurants” that usually have 40 or less seating arrangements. They say if someone is pondering the idea to open up a shop like this, now is the time to do it.

9.      Online and Mobile Ordering and Applications

If you can order a pizza through a text on your phone, just imagine what will be available in years to come. Not too long ago, we reported on digital menus! So there is a growing trend of technology in the industry.  Technology gives customers more control—and they like that feeling. But it’s not just online/mobile ordering that will be on the rise, it will be a variety of applications.  For instance, on the Sacramento Bee’s hot food trends for 2011, they’ve put down the “iPad wine lists.”  They say the New York Times found Bone’s wine sales increased 11 percent just two weeks after they rolled out their wine list on the iPad. It looks as though the mobile trend will continue to grow and make things quicker and more convenient for customers.

10.  Korean Food

Mexican and Chinese are two of the many types of popular ethnic cuisine in America and many top trend lists are pointing that Korean food will join in for 2011. This will range from food trucks, street food and restaurants.

There are many lists for 2011 trends for the foodservice industry. It will be interesting to see which trends make it and which ones don’t. We’ll follow up on these to see what rises in popularity.

Everyone at Central wishes you and yours a very safe and happy 2011.