‘Trendspotters’ Offer Their Take On What Was Hot At Fancy Food Show

Trendspotters-Affineur

The 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show, held June 25-27 at the Javits Center in New York City, is the largest specialty food trade show in North America. This year, more than 2,600 exhibitors from around the world showcased 180,000 specialty food and beverage products.

The show’s sponsor, the Specialty Food Association (SFA) charged its Trendspotter Panel with the task of getting out on the show floor each day to gauge on-trend product innovations. The panel—representing the retail, foodservice and culinary education fields—included Ken Blanchette, director of sourcing for online grocer FreshDirect; Jonathan Deutsch, professor of culinary arts and food science at Drexel University; Perla Nieves and Alysis Vasquez of Midnight Market in Jersey City, New Jersey; Alison Tozzi Liu, in charge of publications, communications and marketing for the James Beard Foundation; and Elly Truesdell, global senior coordinator of local brands, product innovation and development for Whole Foods Market.

“Overall, consumers are seeking out better-for-you foods and beverages made with quality ingredients. They want to make a good choice, even when indulging,” said Denise Purcell, head of content for SFA. “For instance, they are looking for foods that give them added servings of vegetables or are good sources of protein or have a health benefit. But they also need to be convenient as frequent snacking and meals-on-the-go are the common ways consumers eat now. And above all, they need to taste good.”

“The Trendspotters’ picks reflect current food, beverage and consumer trends,” Purcell added. “Categories like beverages and snack bars, for example, have grown over the past two years, according to our latest State of the Specialty Food Industry research, and are forecasted to continue to grow. This list reflects that with new coffee, tea and sparkling beverage introductions, as well as savory bars.”

“Plant-based foods and beverages are another area of growth and innovation,” she continued. “At the Summer Show, not only did exhibitors showcase plant-, tree- and nut-based products across categories from waters to cheese and meat alternatives to chips, but 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 foods are being used in everything from seaweed pastrami to edible algae.”

 

Here are the notable products from the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show, with a quote from a Trendspotter explaining each product’s distinction.

 

New and Creative Beverages

1. Afineur—Cultured Coffee. This biotechnology company is using controlled natural fermentations.

“Brand new to market. The double fermentation process is attractive for people who love coffee, but may have stomach issues with the traditional brewing process.”

—Elly Truesdell, Whole Foods Market

 

2. The Hudson Standard—Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub. This product is based on a Colonial American tradition of blending fruit, spices, vinegar and sweetener to make a concentrated syrup. Using New York State organic apple cider vinegar and local strawberries and rhubarb, the shrub is an ideal balance of sweet and tart.

“Refreshing, spritzy, and flavorful.”

—Alison Tozzi Liu, James Beard Foundation

 

3. The Owl’s Brew—Radler. Organic with no artificial ingredients, the premium beer is blended with fresh-brewed organic teas that are infused with real fruits and botanicals. It is reported to be the first-ever line of tea paired beer and the first standalone line of Radlers on the market.

“A refreshing and light beverage. We loved the array of flavors that were presented, and it’s definitely marketed towards women.”

—Perla Nieves and Alysis Vasquez, Midnight Market

 

4. Smith & Salmon—Sap! Birch Soda: This sparkling birch sap beverage is organic, non-GMO and gluten free.

“There are so many exciting trends in just one can! This line is expanding from the maple soda and seltzers to include the whole forest. This new birch water soda is made by tapping the sap from birch trees, which offers a subtle caramel flavor in this light bubbly drink. It’s also an excellent and innovative example of sparkling drinks or waters with low sugar and plant-based or health-focused ingredients. This entire can has only 25 calories and 6 grams of sugar.”

— Elly Truesdell, Whole Foods Market

 

5. SunUp—Green Coffee. It’s a premium, organic, tea-style drink made from unroasted coffee beans.

“Loved the fact that it has the caffeine of cold brew, but tastes and digests more like tea. The unsweetened is very tasty! We’re always looking for zero sugar options.”

—Ken Blanchette, FreshDirect

 

Better-for-You Snacking

6. Lebby Chickpea Snacks, Dark Chocolate. Gluten-free, vegan and kosher, Lebby chickpeas are roasted through a process that gives them great texture and flavor. Chickpeas are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals and contain 70 percent less fat than roasted peanuts. The snacks are flavored with natural ingredients.

“These chocolate-covered chickpeas were really unexpectedly delicious.”

—Alison Tozzi Liu, James Beard Foundation

 

Trendspotters-RootedFood7. Rooted Food Co.—Popped Lotus Seeds. The lotus flower is a giant lily found in wetlands and contains edible seeds known for their medicinal and nutritional value, Rooted Food Co. roasts and flavors them for a gluten-free snack.

“Loved the cheddar and chive and jalapeno varieties. The size of the snack bag was great, and I loved the natural variety in sizes of the seed puffs.”

—Elly Truesdell, Whole Foods Market

 

8. Sheffa Foods—Savory Bars. Whole-grain brown rice partnered with quinoa, millet, amaranth, chickpeas and sunflower seeds, with a touch of olive oil that creates a crunchy, perfectly seasoned bar made without sweeteners or fruits. The bars are gluten free, non-GMO, vegan, kosher and low in sodium and sugars.

“The savory bar has been the holy grail for bar makers and these guys nail it.”

—Jonathan Deutsch, Drexel University

 

Plant-Based Foods

Trendspotters-Miyoko-BlackAsh9. Miyoko’s Kitchen—Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash Cultured Nut Cheese. Organic, non-GMO, free of cholesterol, lactose, egg, gluten and soy, the nut cheese is coated in black ash with a dense, smooth, creamy texture, and a mildly tangy, buttery sweetness.

“Super rich and very on trend in every way—ash-rind cheeses, plant-based products, non-dairy. It hits on all cylinders!”

—Elly Truesdell, Whole Foods Market

 

10. Nanduto Home Cooking—Cassava Leaves Jerky. The jerky comes from Indonesia-based Nanduto Home Cooking; imported by Jawa Import.

“The cassava leaf jerky is almost like a thin rice cracker; it’s crunchy and savory, with just the right amount of spice. The use of cassava leaf is unexpected and innovative.”

— Alison Tozzi Liu, James Beard Foundation

 

Healthful Meals on the Go

11. Cucina and Amore—Farro Meal. Preservative-free, gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan (except for Basil Pesto), these ready-to-eat quinoa meals come in four different flavors. The meal comprises fully cooked quinoa, mix-in sauce and a spoon; it can be eaten as is or heated it up in its microwaveable cup.

“Farro Meal stuck out to us as the most trendy for the ‘person on the go.’ The concept makes being healthy effortless with a blend of farro and veggies in a microwavable container.”

—Perla Nieves and Alysis Vasquez, Midnight Market

 

Trendspotters-FawenSoup12. Fawen Ready-to-Drink Soup—Broccoli and Cauliflower. The drinkable soup in an eco-friendly bottle soup is organic, vegan, gluten-free and kosher, with no added sugar and no artificial preservatives.

“Among the many drinkable soups I saw over the past few days, in cardboard pourable packaging and single-serving ‘drink’ bottles, this one stood out for the flavor, as well as the addition of turmeric, an ingredient that is also trending. It also stood out to me for the use of cauliflower, an ingredient that is so popular in the restaurant industry right now.”

—Alison Tozzi Liu, James Beard Foundation

 

13. One Culture Foods—Ramen Cups. Non-GMO and free of artificial flavors, the microwaveable ramen bowls reflect several influences. There is a spicy Japanese bowl, Taiwanese beef, Vietnamese pho and Chinese chicken noodle.

“The brand incorporates some really smart details. The Japanese spicy ramen is made with a bone-broth reduction, the optional salt packed allows for nice customization, and everything is compartmentalized. Their packaging is also fantastic.”

—Elly Truesdell, Whole Foods Market

 

14. Smart Harvest—Organic Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie Blends. Quick frozen, resealable pouches are a convenient way to make a delicious smoothie. These are organic, non-GMO, non-dairy and gluten-free, with no added sugar.

“Easy, more variety, large distinctive pieces.”

—Ken Blanchette, FreshDirect

 

15. Tsubi Soup—Spicy Red Miso. A freeze-dried instant soup cube that delivers the taste and nutritional benefits of authentic Japanese miso in an easy-to-make, single-serve package; gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, no MSG, fully traceable farm to fork.

“Plant based, nothing artificial, delicious, easy, just add hot water to dry cake.”

—Ken Blanchette, FreshDirect

About The Author

An observer of the grocery industry since 1988. Away from her editor job, she's a wife and mother of two grown sons and thinks cooking is (usually) relaxing.

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