From the earliest days of humanity, the gathering and preparing of food was central to the community and essential for the survival of the tribe. It would bring the family (and the community) together, allowing everyone to catch up, share stories, exchange ideas, and enjoy each others company. In most cultures, and aside from an obvious nutritional benefit, the sharing of food was a gesture of warmth, generosity, friendship, hospitality and love.

Things are slightly different today. With more than 20 years of influence from the Food Network, an endless stream of celebrity chefs, countless food blogs, and the never-ending postings of food photography online, the value of food has evolved. Lately, it seems to be more about status, indulgence, and entertainment, and less about basic human needs.

According to a recent observation by Adam Rapoport, Editor in Chief for Bon Appetit, food has become a thing. It isn't just for certified foodies anymore - everybody's getting into it.

Rapoport's observation is backed up by the Specialty Food Association. According to their findings, consumers have been reconnecting with food for some time. Their interests are based on environmental issues, a shift from industrialized production to localized family farms, and the desire for more authentic, better-crafted, and engaging food experiences.

Considering that an ever-increasing segment of the American population is demonstrating an active infatuation with food, there is an obvious opportunity that producers can exploit. It doesn't matter if your company is small, penetrating local markets with regional distribution, or considerably larger with national or even international distribution. The bottom line is that people are craving better quality, indisputably authentic, and more engaging food experiences.

It's important to note - this undeniable fascination with food is not limited to any one demographic. While Baby Boomers may be seeking more pleasurable and stimulating food experiences; and Millennials are more interested in snacks and treats; working-aged adults of all stripe are hungry for more healthful, better tasting, engaging and entertaining products.

You don't have to look very far for proof. Brands including Pom Wonderful (juice), Krave (jerky) and Califia (plant-based beverages) have recognized the demand for better performing and more innovative flavor profiles and responded with artfully produced, great tasting, well presented, and enjoyable products. In short, they have been disrupting their respective food categories and are on their way to becoming iconic food brands.

There's no doubt that producers operating in the natural foods arena are capturing the attention of buyers and are leading the pack with healthier, flavor rich and ground breaking food concepts. Along with the brands mentioned above, there is CocoRoons, Field Roast, and The Better Chip to name a few; each creating new, exciting, desirable and undeniably more healthful foods.

While these are mostly plant-based products, the opportunities are not limited to vegetarian options. In the specialty and gourmet world, innovative brands are becoming more flavor-forward, embrace ethnic ingredients and utilize exotic food formulations that attract attention and compel trial. Can you say Sriracha?

Just a few of the more innovative specialty brands representing undeniably delicious and beautifully conceived products, all leaders in their respective categories, include Tea Forte (handcrafted teas), Wildly Delicious (condiments, sauces, spreads), Salem Baking (sweet baked goods), Les Trois Petits Cochons (pâté and charcuterie), Sartori (artisanal cheese), and Olli Salumeria (artisanal slow-cured meats). For those of you who regularly attend the Fancy Food shows, you know that these are merely a few of the wonderfully delicious and exciting products that can be found.

Even the big boys, including Kraft, Campbell's, and Hershey, have acknowledged consumer preferences for healthier meal solutions and are lifting their game. While not disrupting their respective categories (after all, they have already achieved national penetration and iconic brand status), they are cleaning up their act, reformulating products, and embracing healthier ingredients that are readily understood and easily found in home kitchens.

The bottom line is that, from sunrise to sunset, consumers are busy eating, nibbling, snacking, dining, munching, and enjoying food. And each time, they are craving something that is deliciously satisfying, entertaining, and enjoyable. While they are also craving healthy meal solutions that utilize authentic ingredients and have a significant nutritional impact, the most important attribute is that the food looks good on a plate and provides the perfect photo-op. Say cheese!

Studio Spear is constantly visiting stores, attending trade shows, and keeping its finger on the pulse of industry dynamics and buyer preferences. We apply this information to the development of insightful, strategically sound, and creatively innovative brands that stand apart from, and ahead of, their nearest rivals. To see some of these brands, click here.

If your own brands are performing below expectations, or you've recognized the need for a more competitive brand image, Studio Spear has the resources to turn things around. Simply call us: 866 787 8761 - ask for Jeff Spear. You can also contact Jeff via email:

[Flying Circus] 
Set in the 1920s, this literary confection tells an engaging story that revolves around a troubled young man, an adventurous young woman, and the aerial daredevils that embrace them as part of their family.

[The Age of Adeline] 
Imagine a life that lasts forever. Set at the turn of the 20th century, this is the burden that Adeline must endure after a catastrophic car accident renders her ageless. An enjoyable tale starring Blake Lively, with cameo appearances from Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, and Kathy Baker.

Pan is the imaginative and delightful prequel to J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Starring a well disguised Hugh Jackman in the role of Blackbeard the pirate, the story is a colorful and enchanting rollercoaster ride.

Courtney Barnett delivers a stunning and invigorating performance on her full-length debut album. Rich with rock tradition, this album features distinctive and highly enjoyable grooves that set Barnett's music in a class all her own.

Edie Brickell was best known for her work with the New Bohemians... until she met Steve Martin. While Martin is best known as a comedian, he is also recognized for his banjo and bluegrass virtuosity. This talented duet delivers remarkable performances not to be missed.

[Seafood Expo] 
Just in case you could not attend the North America Seafood Expo in Boston earlier this month and missed out on Jeffrey's presentation "Credibility is Everything - Creating Influential Brands," organizers of the show have made it available through the Expo website.

Knowing that PowerPoint presentations alone cannot include everything that was discussed, you are welcome to contact Jeff by email: or phone: 904 685 2135 to learn more.

At Studio Spear, we're constantly visiting stores, reading the trades, and attending shows all over the world - doing everything we can to keep abreast of emerging trends, changing preferences, and exciting new developments in food and beverage industries. While the North American Seafood Expo and Natural Products Expo West have concluded, we'll be attending the NRA Show, Sweets & Snacks Expo, and Summer Fancy Food Show in the months ahead. If you own or manage a culinary brand, or are a food retailer, one or all of these shows could be good for you and your business.

While upcoming trade shows in Chicago and New York (see above) take us to two of our favorite American cities, we're traveling even further to support a few new clients. In Malawi (Africa), as well as in Seattle (Washington), Studio Spear has been engaged to conduct market research, evaluate the competitive landscape, develop brand strategies, recommend marketing tactics and prepare marketing plans for three entirely different agribusiness organizations. Once these strategic endeavors are completed, we'll start various aspects of creative development including brand nomenclature, trademark design, website design (UI/UX), packaging, public relations, advertising and trade show display. We'll be sure to share the outcomes of this work in future issues of TOAST. 

If you would prefer not to receive future emails of Toast, please click here to unsubscribe. 

About Studio Spear
Studio Spear is a global branding agency specializing in consumer-oriented packaged goods and lifestyle-oriented brands. The company relies upon thorough research, strategic planning and emotionally charged creative solutions to produce significant and statistically proven growth for its clients. "It's our goal to enhance your product's reputation, generate higher levels of sales and see your brand outperform its competition," says Spear.

If you'd like to learn more about what Studio Spear can do for you, call, write or email Jeff Spear at:

Studio Spear
PO Box 51291
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32240
Phone: 904 685 2135
Toll Free: 866 787 8761
Fax: 410 486 9492 

Italian Meatballs
Makes about 40

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
2 eggs, large
1 C Parmesan cheese, grated
1 C breadcrumbs
1/4 C olive oil
2 T Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 T garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees.

Mix the beef, veal and pork together in a large bowl, followed by the eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs, olive oil, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Continue mixing, making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Form the mixture into 1-inch sized meatballs and place on a large baking sheet. Place the meatballs in the oven for 7 minutes, then turn them over so the other side can brown. Continue baking for another 7 minutes.

Transfer the meatballs to a pot of your favorite pasta sauce and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve over spaghetti, followed by a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

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