Food Innovation

Cynthia Gonzalez

In recent years the food industry has experienced a shift in ways things are done. What was conventional has been thrown out the window and has made way for people who are innovative and eager for change as well as for great food. Foodies, a made-up word owned by individuals who have a zealous curiosity for food that is new to them. Foodies have a huge role in this shift along with Grubhub, Postmates, Ubereats and other similar platforms. They have brought to light the problems the food industry has with the help of social media platforms.  

According to the National Restaurant association, three in five U.S. consumers order delivery at least once a week. This number will continue to grow in the next ten years, UBS investment bank believes that by 2030 online ordering will see profit up to $365 billion in comparison to the $35 billion profit that is annually seen now. Twenty percent growth has been steady for the past few years and with foodies reaping rewards from placing orders online this trend will continue to increase. Restaurant owners are not as enthusiastic about online orders as consumers are, they appreciate the publicity but the fees are high. 

Chela & Garnacha, a small Mexican restaurant located in Astoria,Queens, owned by Marlene Guinchard voiced her opinion on platforms like Grubhub, Ubereats and the other similar platforms. Ms. Guinchard is thankful for these platforms during these trying times but still feels that it is more for advertising rather than for facilitating customer’s dining experience. Ms. Guinchard states, “It is more like an advertising expense, but once it becomes known to customers around the area, it no longer is an advantage because they charge very high commissions, credit card fees and administration fees. After that initial period, you have to increase the percentage you share with them, if not, you don’t appear on the top of the list, even if your ratings are the best.” This is known to a very small percentage of people, while foodies enjoy the ability to voice their experiences in the establishments on Yelp and Google they aren’t aware of the repercussions. 

Yelp, Google, Instrgram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat have been bombarded by food pictures taken by foodies. Foodies have taken advantage over the web and expressed their passion for food along with their dietary concerns. In 2016 Hannah Harrington wrote about the rise of foodies, in her article she brings to light how much foodies have impacted restaurants to the point of having them change ingredients. “Forty percent of consumers say that it’s very important that foods use all-natural ingredients, free off GMOs and artificial flavors or colors”, (Harrington) eating “green” has been prevalent in the past decade. However, this trend made waves in 2016, when Upserve, a restaurant management software application, looked at Panera Bread’s food to see how healthy it truly is.  That year, Panera Bread listed over 150 artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives which they did get rid of at the end of 2016. 

Foodies triggered a movement that many have judged but to restaurant owners like Ms. Guinchard it is not intimidating to be challenged. “I don’t mind foodies; I actually like them. They like to take pictures of the food and give their opinion. If I did not offer good food, I probably wouldn’t like them.”  Ms. Guinchard created a menu that wasn’t catering specifically to foodies rather a menu that fits what she herself believes in, which is offering quality food with great taste at a fair price. Her approach to reach a broader clientele is intelligently subliminal.  She has been able to attract vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and people who like restaurants just for the aesthetics; by simply having a menu that emphasizes things that are naturally occurring, like gluten free options. Tortillas are gluten free; however, people are not aware of that. She has been able to use that as an innocent tactic that has attracted customers who stray away from gluten. Although Ms. Guincharch doesn’t fear foodies, not everyone feels the same way. 

Chain restaurants have not had the difficulty of changing or adjusting their menus, but small business owners do feel alarmed. Small businesses do not have the ability to change the ambiance of their restaurant or have the ability to have an all organic menu. With everything changing so fast, trends are hard to keep up with, but this is what foodies enjoy. Asian food fused with American food or Asian food fused with Mexican food are new combinations for which foodies search. They seek healthy food with great taste that can gain many likes on social media. Recent research shows that this year we will be seeing more products in the market that are alternatives to meat. We have been introduced to many meat alternatives, but peas should be making the news this year. More consumers have been consciously aware of what they are putting in their bodies, so they have been heard and are being catered to. According to Food Dive, this year they will have more options, more probiotic drink options, gelato and ice cream that provides minerals and other health benefits will be seen this year. 

Trends are nothing new, but recently they have been altering the food industry. While some places are holding steady, others are struggling to stay afloat, in a wavering climate like the one we are currently living in it is important to stay informed and make educated decisions. 

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