And everything nice about food gifts for every occasion

As you probably know from trying to plan meals with extended family members, personal tastes and preferences can make agreeing on a menu very difficult. It’s the same thing with food gifts. How do you know what will appeal to the recipient?

Sherry Henkle, account manager at supplier Calico (UPIC: nfarms), says that food gifts can be tricky. “Food is such a particular niche,” she says. “Trend-wise, it’s very hard to generalize what makes a good food gift given people’s varying tastes.”

When in doubt, turn to data. Google’s “Food Trends 2016” report revealed that the top food-related Google searches in the past three years have been related to functional foods that provide a health benefit, including apple cider vinegar, avocado oil and spices such as turmeric. In its own report on 2016 food trends, food industry research and consulting company Technomic identified ethnic spices as well as hot sauces as a rising trend, which it dubbed “the Sriracha effect.”

Match food gifts that capitalize on these functional food trends to the right audience such as Millennials, who are known to be adventurous eaters—more than 61 percent of Millennials say they love to try unique flavors at a restaurant, according to Gordon Food Service—or those interested in wellness and healthy living.

What you don’t need data to tell you is that just about everyone loves sugar. Nielsen, a global marketing research firm, reports that U.S. consumers spent $21.5 billion on candy in the 52 weeks that ended on April 30, 2016, with most of that money being spent on chocolate ($11.2 billion in sales) followed by non-chocolates ($6.7 billion). But non-chocolates are becoming more popular, rising 4.7 percent compared to chocolate’s two percent.

“Food is an emotional and engaging product,” says Eileen Joy Spitalny, co-founder of supplier Fairytale Brownies (UPIC: Brownies). “Engaging is so important to business relationships; the customization on the food gift and gift card creates a connection with your clients by sharing your personalized message (thank you, congrats, new program, new product), and the enjoyment creates a positive impactful memory. This personal connection strengthens the customer relationship—which is invaluable.”

So whether your client is looking for a trade-show giveaway, company anniversary gift for all employees, monthly gifting programs for customers or any other promotion, sweets help create relationships and memories when the item is received, opened, eaten and shared, Spitalny says.

When you’re just not sure about a client’s likes and dislikes, consider gift baskets with a variety of food items including sweets and more healthful options such as nuts, jerky, cheese, crackers and dried or fresh fruit. And don’t forget the condiments, such as hot sauces, vinegars and gourmet salts and spices, which, especially when tied to a themed promotion, can make your brand stand out.


Taste Bud Treats


Molded Mints

Bring a smile to anyone who tastes these molded mints, which turn your clients’ logos and products into tiny candy advertisements.

Promotunity, Inc. UPIC: Promotun

mason jars with almonds web

Nothing says “retro” and “yum” like this 12-ounce mason jar layered with your choice of candy or nut fills for a delicious opportunity to promote your business.


Admints custom candy box

You can’t go wrong with a custom candy box for a great holiday corporate gourmet gift. Filled generously with turtle and buttercrunch candy to satisfy your clients’ sweet tooth, give them a special holiday thank-you while promoting your brand.

Admints & Zagabor UPIC: ADMINTS

3-way Chocolate Tin Tower web

The 3-Way Chocolate Tin Tower includes three best sellers: chocolate pecan caramel patties, chocolate sandwich cookies and chocolate almonds. Holiday designer tins can be personalized with your corporate logo or holiday greeting. The tins are available in solid colors as well.

Sweet Nut Tree UPIC: SNT

Petite Walnut Apple web

Your client will love receiving a Milk Chocolate Walnut Petite Caramel Apple, customized with a personalized label. It’s also available in triple chocolate with a custom label, or in milk chocolate or dark chocolate with a custom sugar logo. Each Petite Apple is individually wrapped and serves one to two people.

Mrs. Prindable’s UPIC: bigapple

Fairytale brownies web

Build strong bonds with a branded box of eight individually wrapped, bite-sized brownies nestled inside a white and purple favor box with your full-color logo or photo digitally printed on the lid. All-natural and certified kosher, these treats can travel across the globe with worldwide drop shipping.

Fairytale Brownies (UPIC: Brownies)

On The Savory Side

Savory Krave Gift Basket web

This stylish gift basket comes packed with a hearty offering of snacks including dark chocolate almonds, sugar toasted peanuts, salted mini pretzels, chili-lime seasoned Krave Beef Jerky, sea salt-seasoned Krave beef jerky, Sesmark sesame thin crackers and a wheel of apple smoked Gouda cheese. The basket arrives wrapped in a clear gift bag and tied with imprinted ribbon.

Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant UPIC: CHOCINN

Gourmet salt collection web

These gourmet sea salts add flair to any meal, and are convenient to use and store. Presented in Pyrex test tubes with all-natural cork stoppers, they are displayed in a sustainable bamboo base. A reference card with cooking and serving instructions is included, making it easy to create the perfect combination of flavors.

The Spice Lab UPIC: S562480

4 Spice Set webSpice Tins 2 web

Spice up your next event with fresh ground spice mixes that can be packaged in branded tins, pillow boxes, shaker bottles, spice boxes or packets. Spice tins are a popular choice for themed events such as Mardi Gras, Mexican Fiesta, Texas BBQ or others.

Calico UPIC: (nfarms)


Fabulous Food Accessories

Featherlite Full Apron web

Every foodie needs a good apron and this one doesn’t disappoint. The 60/40 cotton/polyester blend

is treated with Dupont™ Teflon® fabric protector so no splatter matters. It’s available in eight colors.

Heritage Sportswear/Virginia T’s UPIC: HERI0002

Swiss Army Cutting Boards web

Epicurean Cutting Boards are made in the USA, heat resistant to 350 degrees, knife friendly and dishwasher safe. They come in a variety of traditional and whimsical shapes.

Victorinox Swiss Army, Inc. UPIC: swisarmy

Frio Vault web

A soft-sided cooler with five storage areas, cutting board, adjustable shoulder strap and easy funnel drain, the USA-made Mossy Oak Break-Up Country Camo Frio Vault holds ice for over 48 hours and comes with a leak-proof liner.

VP Brand UPIC: VPBrand

Charleston Picnic Basket web

With everything you need for the ultimate picnic experience, this Charleston picnic basket makes an elegant gift. With a USA-made patchwork and denim picnic blanket, stemless wine glasses, full dining and cheese service for four and a fully insulated and removable canvas cooler tote and wine cooler, stained pinewood serving tray, cutlery, corkscrew and wine stopper, this basket might make you never want to eat inside again.

Picnic Time, Inc. UPIC: PICN0001

Case Study

Outfront Media Ice Cream Kit

Here’s The Scoop

Last year a media company decided on an ice cream social for all of its offices across the country to celebrate its first birthday. The company’s distributor contacted supplier Midnite Snax (UPIC: midnite) for a customized Do-It-Yourself Ice Cream kit to mark the occasion. “Knowing that the customer wanted to keep a purple theme to match its logo, we were able to source purple spoons, scoops, decorated wraps for the paper cups, and of course, our Corporate Color™ fills,” says Marc Fraum, director of business development. Toppings included chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, chocolate buttons, gummy bears and nonpareil sprinkles, all in purple to match the company’s logo. Purple balloons and white confetti were included in two of the clear containers to add to the party atmosphere.

Source: Midnite Snax

Top Five 2016 Food Trends

Southeast (Asia) Meets West: Asian seasoning combined with traditional Western foods

Grazing on Grass: grass-fed dairy and meat products

Pushing Protein: high-protein packaged foods

By the Cup: healthy convenience packaged in a cup

Purple Reigns: think beets, purple potatoes, purple corn and cabernet

Source: Specialty Food Association

Julie Richie is associate editor for PPB.