It's that time of year in the news business, when the Year in Review gives way to the Trends to Watch For. While eating breakfast a couple of weeks ago I discovered a newspaper article identifying 10 food trends that will reveal themselves before we sing about old enzymes again at the end of December. It was a good article with quotes from Food Marketing Institute, Specialty Foods magazine editors, academics, and others.

The 10 trends were:

1. Medifoods What we usually refer to as nutraceuticals.

2. Low-Carb Crash The newspaper quoted a "trend spotter" who said that when big food companies jump on a trend its coming to an end.

3. Supermarket Sous Chef Still more prepped and cooked items.

4. Responsible shopping The article says consumers are focused on food safety, but there's more to it.

5. Artisan Foods Artisan cheese, organics and artisan bread cited as the fastest growth areas in food.

6. Cookbook Fever These books are hot, and they'll impact how we shop.

7. Pan-Ethnic With today's youth, there are no borders.

8. Rapid Market Response Retailers respond to trends and to a changing customer base.

9. Nutritious Nibbles Nuts, dairy and dried fruits are highlighted.

10. Get N' Go Organics Drive through and help save the planet?

At least half of these trends offer opportunities for dairy processors, and some of them are just screaming for your attention. Under Medifoods, the article talks about antioxidants in things like blueberries and cranberries. Get those into your products along with things like Omega 3.

Responsible shopping can mean so many things. How about something like "this product made with milk from family farms?" How about going organic?

Speaking of organic, what about organic on the fly? If you've got organic milk, can you put it in a grab and go, and sell it in a restaurant? I say artisan, you say...? Cheese, of course! And it's great with artisan bread. How about a marketing tie-in with a cookbook author?

Pan Ethnic dairy? Great things are being done with Hispanic cheese, and with Kefir.

String cheese and cheese cubes make great nutritious nibbles. And I'm warming to the idea of portion controlled yogurt and smoothies as healthy snacks.

Many in the dairy industry are setting trends. You can get organic milk at Starbucks that comes with a straw, for instance. This needs to continue. And there are other ways to play the food trend game, such as serving suggestions on your packaging and in your advertising.

And as for those articles predicting trends? Inside you'll find our 2005 Milk and Beverage Outlook.