Developing Food Gifts for 2018

Last updated: 08-14-2018

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Developing Food Gifts for 2018

This is a particularly exciting time at Maple Ridge Farms. We are busy finalizing, photographing and otherwise preparing to launch our new food gifts in the promo world! Look for their unveiling in June with our official release of the 2018 food gift line!

Where We Go for Inspiration

Our team is always looking.  It is part of our culture to invite and encourage each employee to review new products and ideas throughout the year. Our team is like a group of innate hunters – always looking for new trends that will work in our industry.  The majority of people here are foodies and are continuously looking at food networks, food & wine blogs, retail shops, social media, and local foodie events. We foster an environment that encourages searching on a daily basis to remain inspired and forward thinking. This paired with an innovative industry and our customer-partners, together we are a recipe for success! We listen to our customers, food trend setters, but recognize the need to stay true to the end user, the corporate customer.

Strong food trends tend to evolve slowly.  There are the occasional flash in the pan trends that come quickly, but also disappear quickly.  Just a few years ago at the Fancy Food Show it was bacon.  Bacon was everywhere; bacon-flavored chocolate, bacon-flavored popcorn, bacon-flavored potato chips, and even bacon-flavored cheese.  But within 2-3 years, bacon was nowhere to be found.  On the flip side a major trend in gourmet food over the last decade is the popularity of sea salt and products using sea salt in their manufacturing.  A great example of this: in just a few years our “rookie product” the chocolate sea salt caramels have climbed from the bottom to the best-selling chocolate!!

Gummy bears and licorice are hot right now! We took the traditional dime store favorites, and are providing a high-quality gourmet versions of these all-time popular treats. Wait till you see our new licorice - it is colorful and gorgeous! 

Chocolate almonds have always been a best seller for us. Demand for almonds is still very strong and consistent in the national food gift market. In other words, almonds are hot right now! That is why we carry our long time favorite milk chocolate almonds, and have added BBQ smoked almonds and dark chocolate almonds.

Anyone can serve you a sea salt caramel on a paper plate. However, when we take our delicious gourmet treats and align them with custom innovative packaging that represents the end buyer's theme, it delights all of the senses.  Packaging is the "invitaiton" - it calls the user to come and enjoy the experience.  The food is the element that closes that deal and solidifies the gift-giving experience. There are 3 new trends in the food packaging industry, and here is how we approach these trends:

1. Natural Materials are all the craze.

We have seen a resurgence in an oldie but goodie; the wooden crate.  Maple Ridge Farms first gifts were wooden boxes and crates in 1979.  Over the years, we've followed trends and added other packaging options.  However; in the past 2 years these nostalgic crates and wooden boxes have become top sellers again!  If you take a look at retail sites, including mail or catalog order, such as Etsy, Harry & David and Olive & Cocoa you can see that wood is trending over some of the other printed paper packaging. Wood is all the rage!

Slate continues to be the darling of the cutting board materials. We offer slate boards in our lineup, with 2 versions of this trending cheese board.

While attending the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco this year, it was clear that while color is hot…a muted counterpart was necessary. There was a lot of mixing the naturals with the bolds!  We saw many clear, white, neutral and gray tones trending…but only when balanced with a flashy, bold splash of color.  That splash of color may be a logo, sleeve, hang tag, ribbon etc.  Sort of a new mash-up for the gift world! Be sure to explore our new products that incorporate the craft look! 

Some buyers are also driven to clear packaging or something that gives them a visual of the food. We have added clear cubes and paint bucket container, all with 4 color labels. Fun new, trendy look! 

Sustainable and eco-friendly packaging is no longer a trend in consumer buying patterns…it is NOW the expectation! Check out how we incorporate these values throughout our line.

Last & most important: personalize it, customize it, make it YOUR way and really own the gift!   Who doesn’t love an item that is personalized and created especially for you?  25% of our business is in custom gifts - essentially 1 in 4 orders is a do-it-your-way sort of gift. The more that we can help craft these truly unique gifts for the end buyer, the more adaptable we are as a distributor–supplier team. Give our sales team a call to help you develop that next  "has to be special" food gift! We love helping you with your creative projects!


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