Trend-Spotting: Specialty Foods
The Summer Fancy Food Show, which took place June 25-27 at the Javits Center in New York City and featured more than 2,200 domestic and international exhibitors, is the largest specialty food industry event in North America.
In the Trends report just released from the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel, Flavor Fluidity, Salty Snacks, One-Step Convenience, African Specialties, Asian-Inspired Snack Specialties, and Food with an Edgy Attitude were identified as the top emerging trends.
Top Trends from the 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show
Several crossover flavor examples were on display at the Summer Show. “Flavors that are traditionally representative of one category are entering new and not only adjacent ones,” said Trendspotters Mikel Cirkus and Hannah Rogers. Look for more cocktail flavors in snacks, dessert flavors in tea, and savory, even meaty, flavors in sweets.
The post-pandemic consumer trend of desiring to cook at home but with more convenience is going strong. The Summer Show revealed a slew of one-step products designed to curtail mess, waste, and effort. “Convenience isn’t just on the go. It’s whatever works for you,” said Trendspotter Melanie Bartelme. Some products make “sophisticated cooking more accessible through convenience,” said Trendspotter Stan Sagner.
Broader Plant Based
Expanded ingredients, forms, and categories of plant-based options continue to grow. “Plant-based cheeses to date have largely been tackling the spreadable, the slice, those intended for cooking and meal preparation,” said Trendspotter Emily Schildt. “[Now it] targets the cheese snack.”
When Bad Tastes Good
Food and beverage products with an edgy attitude or daring irreverence are trending. Trendspotters have noted an uptick in products “making brazen statements, evocative claims, or even flavor/ingredient combinations that appear to be ‘in bad taste’ but contribute to the brand’s allure by design,” said Cirkus and Rogers.
Ethically Sourced, Upcycled Products
Brands continue to respond to consumer concern over the health of the environment, developing ethically sourced and produced, sustainable products, many made from upcycled ingredients.
TBJ’s Spiced Tomato Jam is a collaboration with Philabundance’s Abundantly Good, a brand that takes surplus farm products and upcycles them into quality products for those in need.
Pantry Without Borders
Trendspotter panel’s picks for a top trend of 2023 include globally inspired condiments, sauces, and seasonings that let people travel whether dining out or cooking from home. The Summer Fancy Food Show saw Italian pizza flours and shells, Lebanese sauces, and fruits from around the world.
Asian-Inspired Snack Flavors
Flavors of Asia are cropping up in salty and sweet snacks for a taste of the unexpected.
Salty snacks hit the top spot in best-selling retail categories for the first time, according to SFA’s brand new State of the Specialty Food Industry research, 2023-2024 edition. Traditional chips are seeing a lot of innovation but the trend extends to alternative grains and vegetable chips as well.
CONTINUING TO TREND
The alcohol-free mocktail space has evolved to become a category in its own right, with nonalcoholic versions of traditional cocktails, packaging innovations, and increasingly broader brand messaging. “Many brands are pioneering in their approach of inviting consumers to explore the positive aspects of what makes their brand unique and less about the ‘lack of liquor,’” said Cirkus and Rogers.
Seafood alternatives in the form of more sustainable options continue to gain momentum. “Krill, often a food waste and discarded by industrial fisheries, is now packaged ready to serve,” noted Trendspotter Kantha Shelke.
Another top Trendspotter pick for 2023 with staying power: brands testing new flavors and combinations to enhance heat and spice rather than only overpower with the hottest options. “Complex but with bright flavor and balanced with heat,” said Trendspotter Thomas Joseph. Nuanced heat can be found in hot sauces and beyond, extending to categories like butter and incorporating chili crunches, an emerging trend in their own right.
In a trend that began to emerge at the Show a few years ago, foods and beverages from Africa showcasing ingredients, flavors, and recipes were a standout. Several of the products are women- and/or BIPOC-owned.
More trends on the radar…
In addition to trending as naturally occurring sweeteners in a variety of categories, honey and dates are trending on their own. Honey—hot, premium, flavored, manuka—filled the aisles, and dates are emerging not only as an ingredient but as an energy-packed snack.
Peach, as a flavor paired with other ingredients, or as a pickled fruit, is emerging.
Calabrian peppers may be poised as the next Gochujang or Sriracha. They appeared in hot sauce, spreads, honey, caponata, charcuterie, and more.
The 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show Trendspotter Panel included
Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Mintel; Osei Blackett, chef/owner Ariapita and Everything Oxtail; Mikel Cirkus, Foresight & Trenz, dsm-firmenich; Jenn de la Vega, Put A Egg on It; Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, CHE, CRC, Drexel University; Thomas Joseph, Martha Stewart and Sur La Table; Chala June, writer; Hannah Rogers, Foresight & Trenz, dsm-firmenich, Stan Sagner, Founder, We Work for Food, LLC; Emily Schildt, founder, Pop Up Grocer; Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., CFS, IFT Fellow, Corvus Blue LLC