Wine, Food & Nutrition

Trends You Need to Know From the Winter Fancy Food Show

The specialty food industry is more robust and innovative than ever before. It is a great time to be in the gourmet foods business, and there is no better place to see the latest and greatest than the Fancy Food Show. Walking the floor with a keen eye, you will uncover the hottest categories, boldest flavors and latest trends shaping the industry’s growth.

Fresh JerkyFresh Jerky: It sounds oxymoronic, but this is not your father’s jerky if you’re thinking of the tough leathery jerky he’d grab while fueling up the car on that road trip. I first discovered this new age of jerky while dining at Country Cat in Portland Ore. The Hand Cut House Beef Jerky was an eye opener that quickly disappeared when passed around the table. Brands are bringing it to retail combining better meats with a more natural process delivering delicious results. Krave has had great success in the category, but it is facing increased competition. Chef’s Cut Real Jerky had a selection of beef, chicken and turkey jerky. Chef Blair even let me have a taste of a pork tenderloin jerky he…

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The Booze Bin

Parker’s Predictions, A Decade Later

saved my points






It’s January and that can only mean two things. One, I’m trying to figure out whether to eat a sensible dinner or spend my points on a few glasses of wine instead, and, two, the annual ritual of booze trend forecasts are flooding the interwebs.

This is nothing new, but it got me thinking. How many of these predictions actually come true? Foreseeing next year’s trends is a challenge, but what about those from a decade from now? Woo-wee! Who would be bold enough to put themselves on the line like that? Robert Parker, that’s who.

So, let’s see how the “Million-Dollar Nose” fared. Just over a decade ago, Parker put forward a prediction in Food & Wine magazine:

fw200410_120Robert M. Parker, Jr., the world’s foremost wine guru, makes 12 bold predictions about seismic changes that will influence how we’ll shop, what we’ll buy and how much we’ll pay.

TWELVE!? That is so crazy, Bob, it’s Italian television crazy. More importantly, it’s way too long for me to prove or disprove in a single blog post and…

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2015 Food Trends: What we love, hate and can’t wait to start

Each January is jam-packed with trend analyses and predictions, and the food/beverage/nutrition world is no exception. Here, instead of restating what was or professing to know what will be, our cross-category team of food marketing experts shares its hopes and dreams for the good, the bad and the not-yet-developed trends.

FOOD MEDIA – Max Martens

A trend I hope to see continue:  

Printed recipe illustrations

Seeing recipe ingredients deconstructed and laid artfully side by side demystifies complex dishes and gives us publicists a way to gain awareness for ingredients that aren’t always visible in a finished dish.

HappinessIs (Source: HappinessIs blog)

A trend I hope to see fade:


They aren’t unique to food journalism, but in this genre I’m tired of seeing the likes of “the five pancakes to eat before you die” and “top 20 restaurants with secret menus.”

A trend I hope to see start:

Some sort of reconciliation between the extremes of typical eye-grabbing consumer food headlines

Deprivation and decadence. Diets vs. deliciousness. Let’s face the fact that food can be really good ­AND good for you if you do it right.



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Digital Marketing

Beyond impressions – key PR metrics for 2015

The New Year provides new opportunities to do great work for your clients.  In the wine industry, success is measured by the number of cases sold and marketing, sales and PR are ultimately evaluated by how much they contribute to the “bottom line.” At the end of the day, the main question is: How much was sold?

As communication professionals, we appreciate a good challenge. How PR contributes to sales and how to measure that connection is an evergreen challenge.  A recent PR Newswire survey proved that the most common PR goals are (still) outputs, not outcomes. Who doesn’t want media coverage (an “output” goal), but how do media hits translate to very real outcomes, like web traffic, conversions, sales leads, etc.? PR measurement guru Katie Paine is known for her opinion that “HITS are How Idiots Track Success.” While I wouldn’t go that far, there are great metrics to complement your target number of impressions when creating 2015 goals for your client.

Earned Media

A media placement is the result of hard work, but don’t stop at reporting the number of impressions. Observe…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

A Feast for the 99%: Why Now is One of the Best Times for Good Food

As 2014 draws to a close, pundits in every industry category are assembling lists recounting memorable happenings from the past year and predictions for the coming year. (A full commentary on past and future food & beverage trends from me and my colleagues at PadillaCRT is slated for January – stay tuned.) I’ll avoid a listicle here but focus instead on one aspect of the food landscape that has been slowly changing for a while and continues to do so in notable ways as we approach the quinceañera of the new millennium:

Casual food is becoming more sophisticated and fine dining is loosening its tie.

pic 1Where I live in Los Angeles, we’ve been both lauded and blamed for these related happenings. I always feel compelled to dress a notch nicer when I go out for dinner when visiting Manhattan, but here on the Left Coast it’s perfectly acceptable and expected to show up at trendy restaurants in jeans. Traditionalists might scoff at the dearth (or death?) of decorum. On the flip side, it wasn’t that long ago that Chef Roy Choi left behind the trappings of the Beverly Hilton, started a gourmet food…

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The Booze Bin

Top Wine Blog Posts of 2014

The year is coming to a close, bringing on that wild urge to come up with another ‘Best Of’ wine blog list. I just can’t help myself.

Below are some recommendations from my favorite, go-to wine blogger buddies (read: nerds) of their favorite blog posts of the year, and a few of my own. Hopefully, you have a little downtime around the holidays to catch up on these goodies from the past year.

Happy reading!

Thea Dwelle, Luscious Lushes

Long-time wine blogger (7 ½ years) and funny gal pal, Thea had this to say when asked which blog she loved from 2014:

                  Bill Eyer’s recent post on “Are Wine Blogs Dead?” really resonated with me as one of the few people that have been blogging for 6+ years. He hit the nail on the head with reasons that we step away, or take a break, and had fresh ideas to re-inspire – all because of his own struggles.

Paul Mabray, VinTank

Clearly Paul of VinTank, Napa’s wine think tank, follows a solid lineup of blogs, as his favorite list was LONG. A few of note:

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PR Industry Trends

Top 3 Beverage Alcohol Trends for 2015

It’s not even December, yet the web is already buzzing with predictions on what’s hot in the wine and spirits industry in 2015. Maybe someone took their cue from Walmart, which started selling Holiday decorations the day after Halloween.

Like it or not, trend reports, much like holiday decorations, no longer wait for sweater weather. Jumping on the band wagon, here are three emerging beverage trends for 2015.

The Boilermaker Celebrates a Comeback

In 2015, craft cocktails will share the spotlight with simpler, more straight-forward drinks, such as a shot and a beer, known as a “boilermaker.” Case in point, The New York Times recently published a full-page feature on the classic pairing. Some of these pairings are the usual cheap-whiskey-and-cheaper-beer marriages one expects, but more sophisticated duos are making their way into bars across the country.

Wine Pairings Go East

Asian food will continue to be a huge trend next year, so think about how to educate your audience on clever pairings for your alcohol beverage brands. For the best pairings with Ramen noodles, Vietnamese Pho and Korean street food-inspired grub, Wine…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Halloween Candy Overload? 5 Tricks to Get Rid of Your Treats

candyHave a Halloween candy overload in your house? It’s been one week since the big day, so it’s time to think about what to do with all of that leftover sugar tempting your kids (and you!) to indulge until it’s all gone. Here are five suggestions to help wean you off the candy, before the holiday eating begins.

1. Freeze and ration – Chocolate candy freezes well and those bite-sized snacks make for nice, portion-controlled treats. . One serving of miniature Snickers (4 pieces) is 170 calories and 18 g of sugar. So, half that with two pieces and you have a reasonable 85-calorie treat to enjoy.  Note: this takes will power.

2. Donate for a cause - To give thanks to our troops, Operation Gratitude (#saythanks) allows families to donate their unopened candy and the organization will send it to those serving overseas. The Halloween Candy Buy Back program, which benefits Operation Gratitude, sets up sites, through participating dentists, that will accept candy donations in return for toothbrushes and other prizes.

3. Donate to the office – Ask your kids to pick out their favorite pieces and bring the rest…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Nice Numbers You’ve Got There. (So, what’s in it for me?)

pic 1There was once a time when reader impressions ruled. Get a client’s product on the cover of Prevention magazine and you got carried around on a chair.

As we made the shift from bragging about total impressions, we became pleased with ourselves when we could show a client their Facebook followers increased 230% and—hey, look at this—72 people repinned this photo!

The client nods. Then asks the money question: Considering the hefty investment we’ve made in social media, can you show me how all this expensive activity affects my sales?

Good question and one we can be prepared to answer.

Oh, we could get into agent-based modeling and show how ‘persuaders’ affect penultimate decision making. But then, does our client really want to discuss quantitative research? No.

pic 2Let’s get down to it. We are expert surrogates for our clients who trust our knowledge, experience and even our intuition to lead the way. Ten years ago we told them this social media thing is big and it’s time to pounce; they trusted us. Ever since, we’ve developed ‘conversations’ and posted and tweeted and virtually partied…

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Media Relations

How to Get Media to Attend a Boring Event

In public relations, face time between your clients and editors is crucial. It’s especially important in food and beverage PR when you represent a foreign client who visits the U.S. once, maybe twice, a year. Your only opportunity to make a lasting impression with the media and impress the client is by filling every last seat at your event. When your client is in town for 36 hours, there is no room for empty seats.

Yes, sometimes, when the client is in town, there is not necessarily news to report on other than, “Hey, so-and-so is here so let’s get some press out of it!” So the money question is: How do you get media to attend a potentially boring event? 

The short answer: Make it worth their while. Here are three easy tips:

-          Pick a new venue: Host the event at a new restaurant or bar that journalists are dying to go to. Food and beverage editors won’t turn down a free meal at a hot new venue (unless you work for The New York Times), especially if you can schedule your event before…

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