NRA Show 2016 Recap
This was our fourth time at NRA and it never disappoints!
The mix of entrepreneurs, big ideas, and big brands combined with the energy of Chicago is always exciting. I love foodservice for the feeling it creates, and the place it occupies in peoples’ lives.
My prediction was that we were going to see a lot of insect protein, but in fact I saw none (to be honest, I was psyching myself out about sampling so this was somewhat of a relief — there, I said it!) What we did see — and I LOVE — were a lot of fermented foods.
Between kombucha, squeezable sauerkraut, and kimchi, it seems fermented foods are here to stay. Convenience was part of the message; I’m not quite sure the market has matured enough for that. I say focus on the health and taste benefits. We don’t need pickles in a packet just yet.
Delivery Mechanisms as part of the show
We saw a handful of really novel — and very cool-looking — delivery systems for drinks, tea in particular.
One exhibitor told me that he feels tea is where coffee was about 12 years ago. It’s exciting to think we’ll have a whole new wave to ride on that front — from the ritual of tea-making to the wide variety of flavors and sensations that await us.
Vacuum extraction of the tea was the most interesting; we saw two exhibitors with different, equally elegant solutions. Mesmerizing to watch.
These vendors were offering “recipes” as part of their hardware solution, tied into a brand (or selection of brands) of tea. In this way, the value proposition becomes more than “a delivery mechanism for your operation”, and actually becomes the product itself, “a product for your customers”. This fundamentally changes the relationships between the operator, the ingredient manufacturer, and the vendor.
The offerings we saw also had brand flexibility built in — very forward-thinking.
Safety and Sustainability
We were amazed by this product: Fryer Gate. Simple, simple, simple… and cheap, too. This device reduces grease splatter significantly (or it sure looks like it should), which is great for arms, and for the floor beneath. I would love to see this get wide implementation. Its very simplicity begs the question “why hasn’t someone done this already?”
The sustainable packaging and to-go container options seem to proliferate with each year, which is great. We did see a very lonely booth with what looked like styrofoam packaging. Long faces at that one.
We also saw this cool product which harnesses and reuses the heat from your fryer. Yet another brilliant and simple idea. Would love to see this one catch on.
Okay, please tell me what you think about this. I noticed names falling into two camps. The obvious “descriptive” route (think Lavender-Melon Kombucha or Chocolate Chip Biscotti). We can all imagine what those are and how they taste. We make a decision based on whether or not we think we like Lavender and Melon as a combination.
However, we also noticed a lot of flavors with more “poetic” names. For example, “Clear Mind” includes dandelion root and sage. This is not a flavor combination I can guess at based on the name, and might not try as a result, but the implied promise of a clear mind… well, I could use a little of that.
The names of paint colors have a similar history, and it’s pretty fascinating.
Speaking of better names: #NRAShow. There wasn’t a lot of social media going on, but a search of the “official” NRA hashtag gave rise to our unofficial hashtag: #RestaurantsNotRifles.
What was your biggest impression? What trends do you predict for next year? Drop a line in the comments; we’ll add it to our “prediction” blog!
See you in 2017 (when there will be more room for hashtags)!
About the Author: Tanya Korpi Macleod is the founder of Minneapolis-based Macleod & Co. After more than 25 years of marketing and advertising experience in the U.S. and Europe, Tanya noticed the chasm that often exists between an organization’s theoretical marketing “plan” and its realistic ability to execute it. This led her to pioneer in the concept of “holistic marketing,” which redefines marketing as the complete process of bringing a product, service or company from inception to maximum ongoing profitability. Her mission is to show organizational leaders that a holistic mindset not only promotes a healthier culture, but a more profitable business.