National Restaurant Association Show – Chicago, May 2015


Mindful Dining – How consumers’ values influence their meal choices away from home

Today’s foodservice consumers have many choices when they dine out, and they have high expectations.  They expect a warm welcome, delicious food whether it is healthful or indulgent, good service and fair prices wherever they dine.  With so many options available, consumers are beginning to scrutinize the provenance of their meal or snack and the treatment of everyone who plays a part in bringing it to the table.


Culinary Visions® Panel surveyed over 1,200 restaurant consumers about ordering habits and their perspectives on issues like local, organic, natural, non-GMO, sustainable, fair trade, vendor reputations, community support, employee satisfaction and others factors that impact their decisions.  This study explores the factors that drive consumers to choose a particular restaurant and the impact of specific menu claims on what they choose to order.… More

Hot Spots & Hidden Treasures: NRA Restaurant Recommendations 2015

We are delighted to welcome you to Chicago for the National Restaurant Association Show, and we want to share some of our favorite places with you to help you enjoy our city even more.


There are always plenty of hot new restaurants. Our 2015 edition includes a special section on The Ramen Rage. This year we also talked to the best servers in the city to see where they go after hours.

You will find restaurants, gourmet retail stores and fast casual concepts to explore for inspiration, indulgence or relaxation with your friends in the industry. There are some intriguing new food scenes and adventures as well as some of our tried and true favorites to enjoy!

Conference Beat™ – SIAL: Toronto, April 2015

SIAL Canada is the North American exhibition of the SIAL global network that focuses on innovation, insight and inspiration for companies dedicated to the food and beverage business. It is one of six exhibitions developed to extend the reach of SIAL Paris which is widely known as the global forum of food innovation. This year SIAL Paris will be part of Expo Milano, the World’s Fair that we will cover in the fall.


Driving Innovation in North America:

The top three categories driving product development from manufacturers in North America are indicative of the consumer’s desire for a life in balance and unwillingness to sacrifice enjoyment for healthfulness in a fast paced lifestyle.

  •  A category described as “Pleasure” accounts for most of the new product development from food manufacturers, up 50% from the previous year. Products that offer satisfaction and indulgence are in demand.
  • Health is driving the second highest number of new product introductions from food manufacturers.
  • Convenience is third in the list of trends driving new product introductions.
SIAL – Toronto, Canada


Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Show – Seattle, WA


International Association of Culinary Professionals – Washington DC, March 2015


Conference Beat™ – Fancy Food Show: San Francisco, January 2015

The 40th Winter Fancy Food Show continues to thrive with more than 19,000 attendees and 1,400 exhibitors from around the world. Buyers attending the show represented many of the nation’s leading gourmet and specialty food retailers as well as major supermarkets, mass merchandisers and foodservice industry segments including college and university, healthcare, airlines and restaurants.


The largest food categories represented at the show were cheese, meat/poultry/seafood and chips/pretzels/snacks. The fastest growing exhibitor categories are nut/seed butters, eggs and frozen desserts according to the Specialty Food Association.


Gourmet Retail Market Dynamics:

  • Conscious capitalism characterized many of the exhibiting companies that were proud to showcase their efforts to make a positive difference for those involved in bringing their products to market.
  • Incubators and accelerators are helping entrepreneurs move out of their kitchens to meet the demands of consumers’ heightened interest in small batch producers.
  • The movement toward mindful dining has consumers rethinking indulgence with a healthy perspective.
Conference Beat™ – Private Label Manufacturers Association Store Brands Reality Trade Show, Chicago November 2014

It was another record breaking year for the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) show. 2014 was the largest in the association’s 34 year history; over 4,250 visitors and 1,335 exhibitors.


The global presence of private brands was very much in evidence at this show. The Idea Supermarket® showcased products across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.


Private label brand growth continues to outpace national brands. According to The Nielsen Company, private label unit share in supermarkets has reached 23.4% and dollar share is now at 19.4%.   Total store brand sales reached $112 billion last year.


Although this show is largely about retail products, there has been a growing representation of companies who package foodservice products and work with chefs and restaurant brands interested in building a retail presence.


Private Label Market Dynamics:

  • Successful companies in the private label business are moving from a quick follower strategy to a greater focus on innovation
  • Understanding shopper needs is at the core for successful brands
  • New product focus is evolving to greater specialization to capture niche markets
Conference Beat™ – Les Dames d’Escoffier International Conference Boston, November 2014

Members of Les Dames d’Escoffier International gathered in Boston for their international conference. This is a diverse group of culinary professionals in the food, fine wine and hospitality industry. It was a week of tasting, exploring and debating the hot topics and latest trends. There are always lively discussions and rarely unanimity on any issue when this group convenes.


Hot Topics Among Culinary Thought Leaders:

  • Old Fashioned is in vogue including heritage recipes, heirloom produce, ancient grains and vintage methods.
  • Sustainability is the imperative for farmers and fishermen.
  • Accessibility of high quality food as a basic human right.
  • Storytelling about flavor memories and food experiences with life changing impact.