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Food Trends: November/December 2008

Date: 11/01/08 | Source: Specialty Food Magazine | Author: Denise Purcell
Categories: Trends and Statistics; Food Trends
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Food Trends: November/December 2008

Aunt Sally: The New Marketing Demographic

Forget DINKs (double income, no kids), the new hot spenders are PANKs (professional aunts, no kids)—and this recently identified demographic presents excellent marketing opportunities for manufacturers and retailers. Melanie Notkin, founder of, the first online community for professional aunts, whether married, partnered or single, with no kids, coined the term PANKs and says, “PANKs not only indulge the children in their lives, but themselves as well. Specialty food retailers would benefit from marketing to this segment of women who have the discretionary income and time to spend seeking out, eating and cooking with specialty food items.”

According to the 2008 U.S. Census, the ratio of moms to non-moms in America is almost 1:1. PANKs, who spend some of their discretionary income on the important kids in their lives, also have more time and money than moms for leisure, travel, fashion, as well as new homes, cars and electronics. Major corporations like Ford and Hasbro see the potential and are advertising with Notkin.
Since it launched in July, has gotten more than 30,000 hits per month and already has 1,550 members and is growing.

A Sweeter Plum

Dried plums—historically known as prunes before they got a title makeover a few years ago—are welcoming a new variety to the pack. The Muir Beauty, developed by University of California (UC) scientists, has a much sweeter, dominant fruit flavor, more like a peach or apricot, and meaty interior flesh. It may be difficult for consumers to identify this sweeter fruit since it won’t be labeled differently at first. Eventually, the UC scientists hope that dried plums will be marketed like fine wines and sold by varietals. It’s not a far stretch since California is the leader in dried plum production, and heralds some of the country’s best wines. According to the California Dried Plum Board, California farmers are expected to harvest 120,000 tons of fresh prune plums this year, making up 99 percent of the U.S. total and 70 percent of world’s dried plum production.

A Foodies’ Guide to San Francisco

There are plenty of restaurant guides and bar guides (Zagat’s anyone?) but this new comprehensive website from the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau will help you find everything from brew pubs to culinary classes to neighborhood eateries to special food tours. Go to to find restaurant categories such as award winners, dining adventures and inspiring views, check out prices and even make a reservation online. Or, you can keep up on food news and events by reading the other interesting sections of the site. Dig into the food history of San Francisco, Feature Articles, Chef Profiles and an informative blog, Foodie 411, written by Marcia “the tablehopper” Gagliardi.

The Surprising Benefit of Chewing Gum

It may be a pain to remove from floors and clothing, but chewing gum appears to offer some excellent benefits. A report presented at the 2008 Tenth International Congress of Behavioral Medicine found that it helped relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress in a 40-person study. The study was performed on the Defined Intensity Stressor Simulation (DISS), a multi-tasking platform which reliably induces stress and also includes performance measures. Andrew Scholey, Ph.D., professor of behavioral and brain sciences, Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, found that chewing gum while multi-tasking resulted in an improvement in overall performance over non-gum chewers.

Snacking Patterns Change

After declining between 1996 and 2002, consumption of snacks has grown steadily and is forecasted to increase by 14 percent by 2017, according to the report “Snacking in America 2008,” produced by NPD, a global provider of consumer and retail market research based in Port Washington, N.Y. By 2017, NPD projects that kids under nine and adults ages 30-39 and 50-59 will account for the largest number of snacking occurrences.

Most snacking still takes place at home in the evening, but this is declining. Morning snacking has shown the strongest growth, and snack foods replace breakfast more than other meals. Afternoon snacking remains stable. The report also found that most snack-oriented convenience foods, such as potato chips, are eaten between meals, but these items are increasingly finding their way into meal times as accompaniments or replacements. As for top snack items: Fruit heads the list and cookies, candy/gum, ice cream and chips follow. Interestingly, snacking is premeditated—most snack foods are purchased more than a day ahead with just one in ten bought within 30 minutes of consumption.

Denise Shoukas is a contributing editor to Specialty Food Magazine.

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Food Trends: November/December 2008

Contributing Editor Denise Shoukas looks at a new spending demographic, a sweeter, tastier dried plum, why chewing gum is good for your brain and much more.

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