Food Business Trends 2018
Happy New Year and thank you for reading. I have some great surprises in store for you this year with fresh new workshops, blog posts and some public speaking engagements. 2017 was my most successful year yet, and I'm grateful to all of you for making that happen. Thank you for your continued support.
Well, It's 2018 and a with it arrives whole new set of challenges and trends for the small business owner. After careful research, watching social media and chatting with those in the Ottawa community, this is my list of predicted food business trends in 2018.
Ghost Kitchens and digital deliveries
I frequently recommend to those piloting a restaurant idea that they first try a food truck or incubation/ ghost kitchen. The startup costs remain low and there's no lease to commit to. Once you've piloted for a year or so, you'll have a great idea of your costs, sales and customer base, and if it's worth going forward.
What's a ghost kitchen? It's when your food business has no permanent home. You rent a restaurant after hours, or a commercial kitchen and set up shop. With the rise of delivery apps this year such as skip the dishes, the clients come to you via the app. The best part of being a ghost kitchen is you can set up anywhere. Curious how your product would do in Nepean? Orleans? Set up and find out.
With the rise of dispensaries and government regulation of marijuana, so begins the influx of commercial edibles. Rather than just baking a pan for parties, the edible expert in your group will soon be able to sell commercially. Keep an eye on this new industry- I'm incredibly curious to see how they will be labelled content wise. Will it be like alcohol products where the percentage is clearly listed? How will the strength of products be measured? I have a friend who is starting up an edibles company and I'm excited to see how her year goes.
Accountability 1: harassment
It's been a big year in Ottawa with regards to the covers being ripped off one of the industries most shameful problems: sexual harassment in the kitchen. There's been plenty of chatter since the media got ahold of the Carmichael story, but little action as to effective problem solving. As more stories surface, consumers, critics and fellow industry are demanding accountability from the offending businesses. As we move into 2018, I'm interested to see if we will evolve from the angry mob in the Facebook coliseum to real time problem solving and accountability. I'm not saying calling out on social media is necessarily wrong. however, it seems to flare up, get hot with promises of boycott then disappear. Rather than polished PR apologies or statements of denial and promises of change, it’s time to see the actual change created via new policy and monitored accountability. How do we get there? There's a few ideas, a few folks who have stepped up to help, and I'm confident we'll see committees and ideas in 2018. I've been invited to be a part of a few initiatives myself. Stay tuned.
Accountability 2: Cultural Food appropriation
In the past few years as awareness of cultural appropriation grows, the food community has been front and centre. Chatting with other food bloggers, industry insiders and chefs in the 613 has inspired my next blog post all about appropriation in the food industry. I'll be teaming up with Roughchop Ottawa on this post. This is an issue you can expect to see addressed even more in Ottawa this year.
In the meantime, this quote- “It’s not that you can’t cook another culture’s food. It’s the lack of examination of the complex power structure that surrounds that appropriation that’s unsettling.” (and article here) from Dakota Kim I feel best expresses this issue. https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/06/cultural-appropriation-food-justice.html
Livable Wages/Minimum Wage Increases
Benefit cutting, Hours reduced, and layoffs are becoming a direct result of the minimum wage increase. The small food business owner will be adjusting this year with the hourly increase any way they can to preserve employees jobs and keep their doors open. This has been a hot button issue with my client base, and we’re all trying to find real, tangible ways to adjust to the increase without losing the heart of the business- the staff. Absolutely no one disagrees minimum wage employees deserve to be paid more, but small businesses live and die by the almighty dollar, and having a significant government mandate forced upon them has been a challenge. My friends with children frequently tell me I'd never understand as Im not a parent- I agree. It's the same here- unless youve been a small business owner it's hard to comprehend. Think of your favourite local proprietor next time you see or are tempted to post a “you deserve to go bankrupt/close if you can't pay a living wage” comment on a news story. How helpful and encouraging is that to those who make up the fabric and personality of our community you were all about until this issue arose? Let’s be supportive and come up with real solutions whilst preserving great workplaces striving toward living wage paid employees and benefits. This is not a black and white situation, so hold the snark.
Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2018!