Guest Column - July/August 2011

Top Trends in Housewares

By Jackie Bardenwerper

As summer heats up, so does the housewares industry as brands prepare to release their latest new product lines just in time for Q4 2011. In preparation for this event, we've spoken to the leading names in the industry to compile our annual list of the five hottest trends for Fall 2011, along with a sneak peak at those trends we see intensifying in late 2011 and beyond.

Trend Five: Celebrity Chefs Evolve

The past five years have taught manufacturers that there is more to cookware than just a name. While celebrity chefs continue to dominate television airspace, manufacturers have learned that in order for a celebrity cookware line to achieve similar success, it needs personality and style.

This season, look for fewer celebrity lines, and more unique products from those fortunate enough to make the cut. For example, you can expect more from Paula Dean's country kitchen line by Meyer Corporation, as well as Rachel Ray's line of fun, colorful pieces that deliver everyday function.

In addition, look for Mario Batali's new line of enamel-coated lightweight cast iron cookware, coming soon from Dansk. By teaming with Batali, Dansk hopes to also revitalize his existing lines, such as Mario Classic, to provide a new take on classic cookware for the Italian cook.

Trend Four: From Oven to Table

As Americans find themselves with less cooking time and kitchen space, they will be happy to discover a number of new cookware solutions developed with space, and time, in mind. The first includes stylish multi-function containers that eliminate the need for multiple serving dishes and allow home cooks to use the same pot to serve and prepare meals. Created with the consumer in mind, cookware such as Lodge's new line of cast iron servers, brighten the kitchen while minimizing the workload.

In addition to multi-function containers, cooking has gone out of the box with a number of new cooking kits from companies like Nordic Ware. These kits provide consumers with everything they need to create a signature dish, from the mix to the pan. This grants home cooks the flexibility to create specialty items that might otherwise seem daunting due to complicated ingredient lists and recipes.

Trend Three: Insperiences

The Insperience, or experience that takes place in the home, has emerged as a fun way for Americans to stay on budget while still entertaining with friends and family. Previously termed cocooning or nesting, today's insperiences are less about a down economy and more about the fun of home entertaining.

New kitchen appliances, such as the portable party pub and portable ice maker from Avanti, help consumers transform their homes into true entertainment venues, while user-friendly kitchen gadgets, such as the Stress Less line from Trudeau, make it easier for consumers to prepare event-friendly meals. With a focus on making home entertainment easy and fun, we expect this trend to continue throughout 2011 and beyond.

Trend Two: Coffee for One

With the explosion of new single-serve coffee makers, coffee has never been hotter. According to RBC Capital Markets, single serve coffee is a $100 million market per year in the United States and is growing rapidly. With new partnerships emerging among appliance and coffee manufacturers such as De'Longhi and Nestles, this is one trend we expect to pick up steam.

Today's single-serve coffee makers are all about the technology. For example, Bosch's Tassimo Home Brewing System not only brews a cup of coffee, but also can create tea, hot chocolate and more by reading the barcodes on single-serving pods, which include beverage-specific information, such as water temperature, brewing time and more.

Yet, the Tassimo Home Brewing System is not the only technology in today's market. In fact, coffee pod technologies continue to flood the market as manufacturers compete for dominance in the single-serve space with no winner in sight. New brewers from Mr. Coffee utilize Keurig's K-Cup technology, while the popular Tassimo system by Bosch relies on its own proprietary coffee pods.

Further stirring the pot is the possibility that Keurig will lose the right to produce K-Cups exclusively when its patent on the K-Cup single-serve coffee pod expires next year. This could broaden the market by allowing competitors to creating new brewers that use K-Cup technology without paying hefty licensing fees to Keurig.