Food Business Trends 2019

It’s been a big year of growth with This Charming Mandi, and I’d like to take a moment to thank each of you for your love and support.  This year saw 76 private coaching clients, 102 workshop attendees, 9 public speaking engagements, 5 new social media management clients and a boom of new readers to my blog.  I’m incredibly grateful to be able to help all of you along each stage of your journey. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

So without further ado- my little list of food business trends to look for this year.

Edible Marijuana Products

Since the legalization of marijuana this year in Canada, the stigma and demonization of the plant have decreased, and the medical and recreational benefits have come front and center. With legislation on edible products coming up this August, many in the industry are considering incorporating the weed into their products. Bakers are learning how to make butter and ganache, beverage makers are figuring out how to pair flavours, and even Michelin star chefs are hosting secret dinners based around an edible experience.

Discussion in industry forums about technique, pairings and the various strains and their effects are rampant.

Whether the Canadian government will open up the edible market to the food community or keep it private remains to be seen, but were all watching. Irregardless if the edibles become an open market or not, there are so many opportunities to be had with “just add” mixes or “how to” kits.

The government are taking suggestions from the public until February 20- you can read up on and have your say here.

Lastly, *shameless promotion alert* come to my Eat Your Greens workshop February 3rd to learn more about strains and legalities.

Tickets go on sale December 30th, follow me on social media here, here or here to find out first!

The Fight Against Food Waste

Food waste in the industry has been a shameful but real issue for years. With wasteage becoming a well known issue this year thanks to the tireless efforts of zero-waste activists (like my friend Mailyne and her amazing work at a dream lived greener) and various expose type news shows food entrepreneurs are now including a lower waste strategy into their daily operations. Composting, collecting scraps to feed livestock at local farms, connecting with local “food rescue” groups as well as local food donation centers are a great way to stop food waste in your business. Your customers and the community will most likely ask you this year about how you responsibly dispose of your old product, so be ahead of the game with a great answer.

Food Based Social Enterprise

A social enterprise is a business structure that makes a social impact. There are many models for social enterprise- some invest all of their money back into the community, some employ and train those who may not have an easy time finding employment- you can read more about structures and check out some great training via my friends at the Center for Social Enterprise Development. With cooking and food preparation being an excellent life skill and good for self care and confidence building it’s also helpful to increase employability in folks who may have had difficulty securing a position in the past. Check out 2 of our great local food-based social enterprises here in Ottawa- Foodworks and the Ottawa Mission’s Program.

Living Wages and Lifestyle Support

With websites like Glassdoor and Indeed, companies are now subject to being reviewed by staff- and it's not a bad thing. The minimum wage increase in January of this year brought the service/food industries dirty little secret front and center- and changed the landscape of how staff are paid in Ontario. Open discussions on tipping, salary and living wages, benefits, full job descriptions in the hiring process -as well as work/life balance- are being discussed in open industry forums for the first time.  Employers are now scrambling to attract the best of the best with the newfound realization that proper pay and great conditions equals more profit in the long run. How does that work? It's the old adage- you get what you pay for. A happy rested well paid staff is an efficient staff- and less turnover and loyalty saves time and money.

Shackin’ Up

With food preparation premises’ rents sky high in Ottawa, it can be hard for a new entrepreneur to get going- that's why so many businesses are sharing spaces and rent. There's a few forms of sharing- one is the “pop up” in which a business takes over a known restaurant for a day or night. Restaurant gets a cut of the fun, publicity and a night off, the business gets a big kitchen to experiment in and some cash. Another is “incubation” - a simple to execute process in the city of Ottawa (reach out if you have questions). It's when a business full on moves into an existing space, pays rent and uses it during off hours or an agreed upon time by the main tenant. It's a great way to pilot a business idea without being locked into a lease.

Sustainable Product

Much how “organics” were all the rage 10 years ago when I opened my first bricks and mortar location, sustainable is the new word on everyone’s lips.  Environmental and local impact of day to day products are coming under heavy scrutiny- I’ve been recommending for months that new clients include a sustainability program in their business plan when it comes to sourcing products. Want to learn more?  Hit up your local farmers markets or talk to your favorite local farmers.

Thank you for reading my list! My first workshop is less than a month out- it’s how to get organized for your marketing this year. In day to day small business ownership, we can lose sight of financial and marketing goals by getting distracted.  Myself and the amazing Jesmine Onyeukwu -Organizing/Productivity Consultant & Coach- will show you how it’s done.

In the coming weeks I’ll be bringing you lots of exciting workshops, fresh blog posts on the issues that matter in the food business community, and new services and help for 2019- so stay tuned!

All the best to each of you, and here’s to a happy and prosperous 2019.