Food Trends for 2010

Food with benefits, experimentation and the rise of individual preferences  are three of the major food related trends to watch in 2010, according to the experts at The Food Channel.

They write that with the downturn in the economy, foodies and every day folks are returning to the basics.  “This isn’t about retro, or comfort food, or even cost.  It’s about determining the essentials and stocking your pantry accordingly. It is about pure, simple, clean and sustainable.  It is – dare we say – a shift from convenience foods to scratch cooking,”  they claim.

Here’s a run down of the other trends to watch and prepare for in the coming year.  Given the Yakima Valley’ s strength in farm fresh experiences and agricultural bounty, we stand to benefit from these trends.

Experimentation Nation
Restaurant concepts are in flux as people redefine what going “out” to eat means. Gastropubs, fusion dining, shareables, and communal tables are all being tried. New concepts around “fresh” and Do It Yourself will do well. Experimentation is the trend, so concepts will come and go.

More in Store
The Food Channel predicts growth in grocery stores, particularly as private label assumes prominence. Those old generics have morphed into their own brands, so that there is blurring and less of a caste system. Grocery stores are also doing things such as upgrading delis and fresh take-out sections, all the way to returning butchers to a place of prominence.

American, The New Ethnic(SM)
This is all about flavor delivery. Immigration has come to the plate, and we are now defining a new Global Flavor Curve. Part comfort, part creativity, the latest flavors are coming from the great American melting pot. So, it’s about grandma’s food, but the recipes may be written in Japanese.

Mainstreaming Sustainability
People have mainstreamed sustainability, unlike a year ago, when we were somewhat afraid to use the word. America is just now learning how to be sustainable, and Americans are holding themselves responsible. In 2010 we’ll see people and companies becoming sustainable for authentic reasons.

Food Vetting
You are what you eat! That’s what’s leading this trend – our constant need for assurance that we are eating the right things, that our food is safe, that we are not ingesting pesticides or anything that will someday prove harmful. Call it food vetting or sourcing – the issue is that people are asking where their food comes from.

Food with Benefits(SM)
Call it what you will – nutritional, healthful, good-for-you – but this trend toward beneficial foods is growing at a pretty big rate. Expect food to either have nutrients added, or have the word “free” (gluten-free, allergy-free).

I Want My Umami
The “foodie” has settled into a more universal designation of someone who loves food – not a food snob. They are just as likely to want a PB&J as they are to try the latest soft shell crab sushi. And they may put French fries on it! The point is experimentation and a willingness to try new things.

Will Trade for Food
In an era when you can rent a name-brand purse for a special event, we want to know how we can apply that same concept to consumables. So what do we do in a bad economy when we have more time than money and skills that we still want to put to use? We barter. We predict that we’ll all see more of the barter system come into play now that technology can assist with connections.

I, Me, Mine
It’s the rise of the individual. While sharing has come into its own in restaurant concepts, there is a separate but equal trend toward individuality. It’s part of the reason why we are making our own cheese, smoking our own meats, and making our own specialty desserts. Expect more attention to the individual, but it’s not just about portion size–it’s also about food that reflects personality.

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Visitors Bureau Elects Officers

The Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau announced the election of new officers and board members for 2010. James E. Stickel of the Yakima Herald-Republic will be Chair, Kathy Miller of Miller & Associates Wealth Management, LLC will be Vice Chair, Michael Gilmore of Yakima Federal Savings and Loan will serve as Secretary/Treasurer and Doug Picatti of Picatti Brothers Inc. will be Past Chair.

New members elected to a two year term on the board are Jeff Brantner of the Yakima Greenway Foundation, Shawn Haggerty of Legends Casino, Wanda Riel of the Holiday Inn and Tami Silva of Darigold Dairy Fair.

The Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau is the designated tourism marketing organization for Yakima County and the Yakima Valley. Tourism is a $327 million industry in Yakima County employing more than 3,420 residents.

Tourism Pays for Yakima Valley

When a visitor comes to a community, they do many things like stay in a bed and breakfast, go shopping, get outdoors or dine at a local restaurant.  Sure we see the direct benefits of their spending, but what of the indirect benefits?  That’s a challenge travel practitioners wrestle with, illustrating the full economic benefits of tourism and marketing to attract visitors.

Recently, Visit Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau produced a great video that tells this story, and generously made it available for local communities to adapt and use.

Check out why tourism pays for the Yakima Valley and Washington!

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Measuring Social Media

As with other programs and projects, social media in the workplace should be measured and evaluated for its effectiveness. The question though is how? It’s such a different animal then a print advertisement that can be tracked through various methods.

In his blogs, Chris Blake of Econsultancy takes the concept beyond just recording and reporting raw numbers.  He writes “Social media measurement is a tricky subject, not least because not everything can or should be measured, and in some ways social measurement is a bit like measuring the impact of TV ads on brand awareness: it’s a slightly softer area than, say, paid search.”

He contends that there are many things in the social media realm that can be accurately measured, “which – when seen through a wide-angled lens – can really help you make sense of what social media can do for your business.”

Blake advises a more holistic approach, one that starts with having a corporate culture that embraces and advances social media as a part of the whole organization with an integrated social media plan.

Read his blogs for more thoughts. In addition, take a look at this blog entry for more things to consider when planning your social media strategies.

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White House Jobs Summit

Yesterday the Obama administration hosted a jobs summit of economists and business leaders to seek ideas and offer solutions to the unemployment rate. As a result, six main ideas were recommended, from increasing exports to boosting credit options for small firms.

In advance of the summit, the US Travel Association (USTA) sent recommendations to President Obama and Congressional leaders on how tourism could be a vehicle for creating and sustaining jobs.

The letters commended leaders for their commitment in enacting policies to spur job creation in the United States, noting that nearly 400,000 combined U.S. travel industry jobs were lost in 2008 and 2009. The projected addition of nearly 90,000 American travel jobs in 2010, due to modest increases in travel volume and spending, demonstrate the industry’s unique ability to quickly create employment opportunities.

Seven immediate and medium-term proposals crucial to job creation were outlined in the USTA’s  letter to the president and Congress, including:

– Travel tax deduction for business travel with a spouse;

– Business meal tax deduction;

– Implementation of the Travel Promotion Act to encourage millions of travelers to visit the United States;

– Targeted hiring of new consular officers for key inbound markets with unmet demand;

– Increased investment in the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009;

– Funding for a “NextGen” air traffic control system that will limit flight delays, cancellations and negative impact on the environment

– Airport construction funding for U.S. ports of entry.

We are hopeful that the administration and Congress will embrace these ideas to help advance our economy and create jobs.

New Holiday Inn Opens

Representing a new focus for the brand, Yakima’s Holiday Inn opened today, just across the street from the Yakima Convention Center.  It’s the first property in the state of Washington literally built from the ground up with the new Holiday Inn brand standards.

Local tourism leaders applaud the addition. “With the new Holiday Inn, there are now more than 800 sleeping rooms within walking distance of the convention center,” stated John Cooper, President and CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau.  “This gives us a great advantage over many other towns while providing meeting planners more choices in the city center.”

The $12.5 million hotel has 114 sleeping rooms, full service restaurant and bar, meeting space and a variety of amenities.

The hotel will utilize various environmental practices. Housekeepers clean rooms with products with environmental and sustainability standards. Electricity in rooms only operate when guests place their key card into a designated slot and the swimming pool uses a salt saline solution instead of chorine.

To contact the property call (509) 494- 7000. For reservations visit their website.

For complete  information for the Yakima Valley visit our website.