As we were making the final edits to this issue of Food Engineering, I noticed it touches on all the major challenges currently faced by those involved in food and beverage manufacturing: the increasing need for automation, the focus on food safety, the importance of sustainability and the necessity to run lean and mean in all aspects of plant production. Once in a while, though, I think we need to put the food back into Food Engineering and talk about new product trends.
This past weekend, I dined at a tavern in a hip part of town that featured deviled eggs on its menu. I don’t recall ever seeing them before on a restaurant menu. A few days later, when I was reading about 2013 food trends, there it was again in all its retro glory: deviled eggs. Compiled by a Forbes contributing editor, this 2013 food trends list also included Korean flavors, tortas and tiny desserts. But other items on this food trends list stood out: wine, cocktails and condiments on tap. Not only do more items on tap make restaurants more efficient, they support environmental concerns. Less packaging and less transport appeal not only to sustainability-minded customers, but to food and beverage industry suppliers as well.
Overall, I think we’ve seen mostly good news for the food industry in recent months, with the focus on reducing food waste, increasing healthy eating, emphasizing sustainability and food safety, and addressing animal feed and pet food safety. Here’s some more good news: According to a recent report from Grant Thornton, optimism runs through the global food and beverage industry. The vast majority of executives who responded to its survey earlier this year anticipate that revenues and profit will increase in the next 12 months, with a third expecting sales growth greater than 10 percent. In addition, more than a third of survey respondents report their organizations will increase spending on equipment, information technology and new product development.
Speaking of new product development, I’ll pass on the deviled eggs, but keep the tiny desserts coming.