Fads or “movements” can come in the form of almost anything: music, craft food, cars and fashion are a few such examples. New fads are currently popping up and highlighting the use of local products as part of the business model. Fortunately for those who enjoy eating, the country is currently experiencing the delicious fad known as the craft food (and drink) movement. Of course many of the menu options, of the food at least, tend to be on the healthy side, though when taking in the larger picture that seems a small price to pay for such a delicious fad.
“Craft food” is defined by Travel Dictionary as: “food that is carefully prepared from high-quality ingredients, as opposed to fast food.” In this particular case it is also relevant that fast food does not just necessarily mean food from the drive-through. Fast food, as opposed to specialty food and drink, means anything that is prepared on a line, or mass distributed. The difference in “craft” food and drink is that the menu often changes to meet the standards of the highest quality ingredients that are exclusive to regional or seasonal availability.
Craft dining options are popular with foodies and beer snobs alike, but local business owners are also taking advantage of the fad in order to draw in a broader customer base. One major draw for some when it comes to supporting craft food and drink is that the ingredients are often, if not exclusively, grown, farmed or brewed in close proximity to the restaurant. This means that the consumer can feel good that they are consuming local, fresh and often organic products and supporting local business owners as well.
Though craft food is gaining in popularity, it has not yet reaped the profits that craft brewers have been enjoying since they gained momentum about two decades ago. Business owners certainly have craft brewers to thank for paving the way for their delicious specialty menus. Craft beer has its own loyal following, whether or not craft food is on the menu. Brewbound reports that in a recent study performed by Food Industry Consulting Firm Techonomic “craft beer selection alone is enough to draw 49 percent of consumers to a restaurant.” Craft beer may be just the thing craft food needs to enjoy continued success and gain a loyal following, a movement of sorts, the likes of the craft beer industry.
Business owners do seem to be taking a page out of the craft brewer’s handbook. In a savvy business move, craft food and drink restaurant owners are advertising special pairing events, tastings and industry nights where they match items from their specialty menu with local beers. Not only does this get people to the restaurant and through the door, but it ensures they will be sampling the craft food on the menu. As well, this sort of event is more targeted to women, the demographic most obviously missing in the craft brew industry that artisanal food is not ignoring. Though this is a hit and miss approach, since people like what they like, craft beer benefits once again, though the eatery comes out on top both as a supporter of other local businesses and a place to look into for specialty events and perhaps catering.
Unlike most fads that tend to ebb and flow, the craft food and drink movement appears to be here to stay. Organic, farm-to-table, small business and local are just a few of the current trends that are working to ensure these businesses a bright future. Perhaps the only thing standing in the way of the incredible success craft brewers enjoy is price. Beer is relatively inexpensive to produce, even when exclusively using local ingredients, so craft beers run about the same as any domestic draft. In comparison, any food labeled “farm-fresh,” “organic” or “craft” seems to be considerably more expensive than its average counterpart. Insurmountable problems these are not, nor are they rare in the business world. No doubt business owners are hard at work ensuring the future of craft food and drink, surely enjoying a craft beer while they brainstorm their next step forward in the movement.
Opinion By Heather Everett (Pomper)