Trends And Product Innovations From The 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show

“What are the latest food trends?” It’s a question many of us are asked regularly, and what better platform than the Fancy Food Shows to illustrate which ingredients, flavors, categories, product claims, or consumer movements are currently in vogue or gaining traction. At the recent Summer Fancy Food Show, the Specialty Food Association convened a Trendspotter Panel to explore the show and report on on-trend product innovations.  

The Trendspotter panel brought together professionals from retail, foodservice, and culinary education, including Ken Blanchette, FreshDirect; Jonathan Deutsch, Drexel University; Perla Nieves and Alysis Vasquez, Midnight Market; Alison Tozzi Liu, James Beard Foundation; and Elly Truesdell, Whole Foods Market. 

The panel’s picks reflect many macro trends that are going strong, notably snacking and better-for-you foods and beverages (those made with quality ingredients or including a benefit not found in their traditional counterparts). The Trendspotters pointed to products on exhibit like chocolate-covered chickpeas and popped lotus seeds as evidence that consumers want to make a good choice, even when they’re snacking and indulging. 

Also trending—snack, energy, and wellness bars, which market researcher Mintel projects will grow 59.4 percent between 2017 and 2021. Bars at the show were packed with ingredients like quinoa, millet, amaranth, seeds, and nuts. 

Beverages are another burgeoning category. According to the Association’s annual State of the Specialty Food Industry report, specialty beverages outpaced growth of food in 2016, with water, refrigerated juices and functional beverages, and shelf-stable and chilled RTD coffee and tea all driving the increase.

The panel saw on-trend innovations including shrubs, beverages based on a Colonial American tradition of blending fruit, spices, vinegar, and sweetener to make a concentrated syrup; a sparkling birch sap soda, a low-sugar drink made from tapping the sap of birch trees; and a tea-like beverage made from unroasted coffee beans that offer a caffeine kick without the bitterness of coffee. 

Beyond those picks, enhanced waters were prevalent at the show, including some with added oxygen or hydrogen, and plant-based waters including cactus and hemp varieties.

Plant-based overall is another area of growth and creativity. Exhibitors showcased plant-, tree-, and nut-based products across categories from waters to cheese and meat alternatives to chips. The Trendspotters cited cultured nut cheese and jerky made from cassava leaves as among the innovations in the category. 

We also saw a glimpse into the future of food within the Taste Tomorrow section of LevelUP, a new interactive attraction that looked at the future of food, consumers, and commerce. There we saw that plant-based ingredients are being used in everything from seaweed pastrami to edible algae to kelp jerky.

You can find the full news release on the Trendspotter Panel’s picks for on-trend product innovation here.  And we want to hear from you too. What trends did you see at the Fancy Food Show and what do you think will be the big food trends of 2018? Join the discussion in the Solution Center's Q&A Forum.
Posted by Denise Purcell on Aug 3, 2017 2:28 PM America/New_York