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 last week with 80,000 products on display from 1,400 exhibitors. The specialty food industry is hitting a record year of growth with $148.7 billion in sales and an increased demand for foods with additional health benefits that meet sustainability concerns.
Here are some of the biggest trends we spotted this year:
As the plant-based demand shows no sign of slowing down, interesting vegetable snacks continue to be introduced on shelves. We saw a lot of plant-based versions of traditional meat snacks like “pork” rinds and jerky, along with interesting artichoke chips, avocado puffs, sunflower chips and the more well-known cauliflower and mushroom snacks.
With the proven success of nut-based dairy alternatives these past few years, oat milk is now gaining steam. Oat milk brings a smooth, creamy taste with some added health benefits. In addition to drinking it, oat milk is also being used in cheeses, ice creams and a variety of other traditional dairy items. Expect to see more innovative uses of oat milk in the coming years.
Global cuisines with a regional focus are continuing to be a trend, with popular influences this year including Korean, Irish, Indonesian and Caribbean. In the snack space, Persian flavors are popping up in snack mixes and flavored nuts, while Burmese sauces and seasonings were found in prepared foods.
Approximately 30 to 40% of the food supply in the United States is wasted, whether by consumers or manufacturing companies, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While many businesses and consumers are seeking sustainability strategies, some food companies — especially within the snacking category — are doing their part by recycling food waste from the manufacturing process. This is known as upcycled foods and it describes what happens when an item that would usually just be discarded is re-purposed to make a whole new item. Upcycled foods grabbed lots of attention at the show, as they underscore sustainable, earth-friendly fare.