The Soup Kitchen
At the Young and Beginning Farmer and Rancher Institute in Wichita, KS, our evening entertainment was a delicious meal prepared by Tanya, the owner of the Soup Kitchen. After several years of ownership in the downtown area, she was forced to close her very successful business by a larger company seeking her rental location because of parking. However, Tanya still conducts special dinners at which she prepares the meal while entertaining a group and discussing recipes and trends in the food industry.
After we finished a tour of the fine arts museum, a paradigm shift for some of our young farmers and ranchers, we sat down for a slow food experience. It was intriguing when Tanya and her sister discussed trends in the food industry they see emerging from the front lines over the next 10 years.
First, she indicated more restaurants, particularly catering to the high-end market, would be purchasing raw product locally. Much of this would be either natural or organic.
Within the next five years, the chains, such as Applebee’s, etc. would capture the mid-market, and to some extent the low end. She indicated that because of the price of beef, it would become a luxury food savored in an eating experience. Growth in the vegetarian market would increase dramatically, starting on the East and West Coasts.
The Hispanic and Asian markets will be a growth market, with meals consumed at home for the family-oriented Hispanic person.
She indicated that much of the food will be mass-marketed for the middle-income consumer, but those farmers and ranchers who cater to the high-end will make the money. In private discussion, she suggested for one producer to allocated 51 acres of his 5000-acre farm to new food trends to differentiate his farm without risking going broke.
By the end of the evening, she had challenged most of the participants to think outside the box. She ended by saying there is too much disconnect between producers and consumers and those who make the connection are more likely to be successful.
P.S. Now that Tanya is a food consultant rather that a restaurant owner, she indicated that she has a life. That sounds like farming!
My e-mail address is:[email protected] 
Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups.
To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.
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