Portland Food Trends: From Kure to “Donuts for Grownups”

In this second part of my Portland coverage, I focus on a few food trends that caught my eye walking the streets and the aisles. My main observation was that the food industry continues to innovate on the spectrum of healthy and indulgence. For example, while not new but illustrative of the trends, virtually next door to each other are Kure, a juice bar and food eatery with a name connoting health, and Blue Star Donuts offering “Donuts for Grownups” (although I saw plenty of happy kids gobbling them up) featuring indulgent brioche donuts in fabulous flavors. There’s always room to make it healthier based on new science and ingredient discoveries and to make it more delicious or a “better for you” treat.


Kure.JPG    Blue-Star_1.JPG

On the retail side, Green Zebra started a few years ago and is expanding into downtown Portland as the “healthy and convenient corner grocer.” It’s a mash-up of Whole Foods and 7-Eleven with a mission to increase people’s access to healthy food. I loved the format. It was easy to shop, carried the types of natural, healthy products I’d purchase for myself, and even had prepared foods and unique, interesting products.


 To start, Green Zebra carried the first CBD beverage product I’ve seen, and what made it that much more unique was that it was on tap in store. World Foods market had a similar station for Kombucha, but that’s better known in other restaurant and grocery establishments. Not CBD beverages. Like a Whole Foods, Green Zebra posted notes to explain the product to drive trial.


Other beverage innovation that is popping up all around and was on FULL display in Portland was canned wine. And talk about graphics, the wine industry isn’t holding back on design and brand storytelling just because the product is in cans.


There were two other beverage innovations that I haven’t seen anywhere else that were cool. One, Beer Sauce. Can’t find the vendor but have never seen an additive for beer. Would be interesting to expand this idea of beverage mixers to go along with other main beverage bases beyond water. Along those lines, Tangelwood has a Hot Buttered Yam beverage mix that’s made with yams and black tea sweetened with caramelized maple bourbon. Just add milk. Yam or yum?!

BeerSauce.JPG     Tanglewood.JPG

Plant-based products have been growing significantly. In fact, plant-based product claims have increased over 60 percent globally from 2013-2017. There’s already even a Plant Based Foods Association! So, not too surprising to find a brand owning the space on shelf, Plant Snacks, which makes cassava root chips. Want to learn more about the plant-based products trend? L.E.K. just released a report that’s worth reading.


Finally, walking the chip aisle also made it apparent that “healthier” oils is another new claim to fame. Which is the best now? Coconut oil? Avocado oil? I think it’s still a chip but take your pick.

Chips-AvocadoOil.JPG     Chips-CoconutOil_1.JPG

These food trends fit into a two macro trends: 1) consumers continued focus on healthier living and being more mindful of what they are consuming and the brands they are supporting; and 2) consumers desire for stress and anxiety relief, seeking moments of enjoyment and comfort and wanting to indulge with healthier options. Food marketers can tap into these trends with products that are healthy, healthy indulgence, or indulgent. Just be sure to bring your new, unique angle to make sure it stands out and sticks.

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