2018 Fancy Food Show Trends

January 23, 2018

It’s one of the biggest shows in the food and beverage industry and always gives us an insight into what flavor trends are hot in the market right now. The Winter Fancy Food Show was held in San Francisco this week and we were able to see some of the current flavor trends and those upcoming ones that will grow in popularity in the coming years. Nothing is bigger right now than the plant-based trend and it continues to hit in a bunch of different categories. Expanding beyond alternative proteins, we’re seeing more plant-based snacks, frozen desserts and indulgent foods.

Here are some additional trends we spotted:


Moringa is the new kale.

The newest green superfood is the moringa plant and it can be found ground into a fine powder (to add to smoothies) or in packaged foods like energy bars and puffed snacks. It’s rich in protein, fiber, potassium, calcium and Vitamin A making for one green super food hero.


Think Pickled.

Healthy dehydrated snacks made from fruits and veggies are still all the rage, but the real thing is also making a comeback. Lightly-pickled veggie snacks like carrots and cauliflower could be found in small portion-controlled packaging making for a quick and healthy snack option. The fermentation trend will carry into multiple product categories this year and beyond.


The Ultimate Energy Bars

One of this year’s fastest growing specialty-food categories is the protein or energy bar, a category that shows no signs of slowing down. The new bars at the show had a focus on superfoods and protein with an addition of caffeine for an extra energy boost.


Just Add Butter

Just when you thought you couldn’t love nut butters more, some new kids came to the party. In addition to the popular almond butter showcased in new flavors, we also saw some pistachio butters and walnut butters. Indulgently creamy and flavorful, the salted caramel walnut butter was an exceptional standout.


Shroom Snacking.

Mushrooms continue to be an important protein ingredient in snacks and this year saw some vegan jerky that uses the umami flavor of mushrooms to mix with bold spices for a chewy texture that’s a step up from traditional jerky.


Save the Date.

As more consumers search for natural sources of sweetness, dates are rising to the top as a healthier, lower-glycemic substitute for sugar. We’re still seeing a backlash on artificial and added sugars, so expect to see dates incorporated into more and more snacks to add that sweet touch.


Call Me Old Fashioned.

Favorite childhood treats are being reimagined as snacks with new and bolder flavors. Cookie dough is moving from boutique cafes to packaged treats, the old fashioned salt water taffy candy is seeing a modern spin with flavors like salted caramel and salty mango. Even cotton candy is getting an infusion of unexpected flavors like habenero pineapple and matcha green tea latte.


Middle East Feast.

Middle Eastern spices like harissa, cardamom and za’atar are being used to add a bold twist to traditional snacks that appeals to consumers bored of the same old tired seasonings.


The Cannabis Effect

There’s still plenty of uncertainty when it comes to cannabis for the traditional grocer, but it was definitely a topic buzzing around the show. Although there’s hesitancy from the buyers, we seem to be moving toward a boom of this ingredient incorporated into snacks and foods.


Why So Salty.

With sugar taking a backseat for consumers, this year is all about that salt. Jalapeño salt, cherry smoked salt and fennel saffron salt were some of the standouts.


Organic, Organic, Organic.  

Organic has officially gone mainstream with big brands like Gatorade and Jelly Belly introducing new organic options to appeal to customers searching for these.


Oh My Goth.

Goth foods tinted with activated charcoal have been popping up on the food service side in pizza crusts and ice creams. Call it the Instagram effect as these items are being paraded as the “anti-rainbow” foods. The charcoal foods are starting to pop up in packaged snacks and we have an eye on this trend for future growth.

Tags: 2018 food trends, flavor trends, specialty food association, winter fancy food show

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