3 Food Trends You Need to Know

In the 13 months I’ve been writing TrendCast, we’ve covered a lot of ground. And lately I’ve seen some statistics that warrant a look back at a few of the trends we’ve talked about.

First, let’s take a quick look at the restaurant business. Even though the economy was still somewhat shaky last year, revenues at full-service restaurants rose nearly 9 percent (they’re now $220 billion), the most, according to The New York Times, since the late 1990s. This growth is even faster than that at limited-service restaurants (annual sales of $211 billion), which is counterintuitive, since you’d assume Americans on limited budgets would be dining at the cheaper eateries.

Last November I told you that Starbucks’ Howard Schultz had invested in Evolution Fresh, a juice company, with plans to launch a chain of juice bars. Last Monday, USA Today told us the first Evolution Fresh juice joint opened its doors near Seattle. Evolution Fresh is not pioneering new ground; Jamba Juice has 750 juice bars already open. If America is about to go gaga for juice, think about getting there before the big brands do. Is this for real? Jeff Hansberry, the president of Starbucks Channel Development, told USA Today, “Juice and nutrition is no longer a fad. It’s a full-blown trend.”

Our very first TrendCast, back in February 2011, detailed how pie was trying to dethrone the mighty cupcake. Cupcakes still rule, but as a report from CNBC details, there’s the good (the famous cupcakeries like Magnolia Bakery, Crumbs and Sprinkles are planning major expansions, including franchising), and the not-so-bad (research firm IBISWorld forecasts annual revenue growth will slow to 3.7 percent over the next five years, down from 4.9 percent growth in the past five years).