Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Oil Impact

What is the biggest food trend so far in 2008? Unfortunately it is rising food prices. If you are a food producer or seller you have no doubt felt this impact on your bottom line. You may have even already made the painful decision to take price with your customers. On an even more personal level you have no doubt felt the impact on your own wallet as well, when it is your turn to be the consumer.

Why the dramatic spike in food cost? Well the most obvious culprit is sky rocking oil prices. Oil impacts the food chain in ways most of us never consider. Oil is a key ingredient in the fertilizers and pesticides that farmers use on crops - like corn, wheat and soy beans. It then takes oil to harvest and transport those crops to distribution centers and on to market. If those crops are then used to feed live stock more oil will be required to process and transport the meat. If the crops are used for processed foods (like hamburger buns, tater tots, or a box of corn bread mix) then more oil is used in the transportation and processing of those products. And don’t forget the oil that also goes into the production and transportation of all that beautiful packaging that encapsulates all the tasty food products we buy. Wow it takes a lot of oil to make a meal when I put it that way!

Since we know oil prices are unlikely to be headed south anytime soon (if ever) are there any things you can do to help your consumers (and your own family) with their rising food bills? Absolutely! You can offer recipes that deliver more bang for the buck. Offer up seasonal recipes that capitalize on locally available seasonal products (which cuts down on transportation costs). Produce cost typical aren’t as impacted as meat and processed foods prices so offer recipes that use generous amounts of fruits and veggies. Finally you can also offer Asian and Mediterranean style recipes that use meat, dairy and fish more as flavorings than main ingredients. Just remember to keep in mind the cooking skill level and available meal prep/cooking time for your key target demographic. Unless you are specifically targeting the most proficient and prolific cooks with your recipes, don’t get so gourmet (i.e. too complicated or time consuming) in your recipe offerings that you loose the interest of your key target market.

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