The Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel previewed thousands of specialty food products showcased by more than 1,100 exhibitors Jan. 15-17 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Ten overall trends have emerged from the show.
“Products that make home cooking more convenient and restaurant-quality are in demand, whether meal starter kits, distinctive salts or butters, condiments from around the world, or foods from different global regions available as frozen entrees,” said Denise Purcell, SFA’s VP of resource development.
“Sustainability and health in balance are top trend themes too, with foods and beverages that use upcycled or regeneratively grown ingredients, as well as better-for-you indulgences from tempeh, water lily seed, or bean snacks to alcohol-free cocktails.”
Top 10 trends from the 2023 Winter Fancy Food Show:
- Non-alcoholic cocktail culture – Alcohol-free beverages are dominating in the ongoing cocktail trend. “Truly alchemists, combining active plants, adaptogens and nootropics to create unique alcohol-free cocktails,” said Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo, trendspotter. Women- and diverse-owned companies are taking the lead in innovation in several products.
- Fermented for function – As consumers gain understanding of the importance of overall well-being, fermentation in new uses is creating value-adds to foods and beverages. “The trend extends to pickles, beverages made with koji, sauces and adaptogentic plants,” said Kimberly Lord Stewart, trendspotter.
- Honey is hot – A new batch of honeys is hitting the market featuring adaptogen infusions, forest-grown varieties that are sustainably harvested and hot flavor profiles showcasing different spices. Some of these products “combat climate change and support local enterprises,” said Kantha Shelke, trendspotter.
- New packaging form and utility – Innovative packaging that addresses portability and convenience, as well as creative ways to consume traditional products, is leading innovation from meal cups to tea discs to freeze dried products. “The freeze-dried format allows for convenience and ease, which allows it to be enjoyed almost anywhere. The way they also did the freeze drying kept the flavor, delivering an authentic experience,” said V. Sheree Williams, trendspotter.
- Starters, bases, kits and shortcuts for convenience – Convenience in at-home cooking is a top 2023 trend, as consumers have ambitions to keep up home cooking but lack time. The Winter Fancy Food Show brought several meal starters, sauce starters, frozen meals and other shortcuts to the forefront.
- Pantry without borders – Trendspotters saw a crop of condiments, sauces, oils and seasonings as a top trend for 2023. That trend held firm at the Winter Show where the trend also extended to snacks, cookies, beverages and other grocery staples. Many of the products representing the trend are from “farm to table, family-run small business and showcase superior ingredient use,” said Nicole Brisson, trendspotter.
- Sustainable, upcycled or regeneratively grown ingredients – The health of the environment continues to be a top consumer concern and is opening the door for more products that are responsibly grown or produced, ethically sourced, use upcycled ingredients or contain sustainable packaging. Products range from plant-based sushi to a new spirit made from upcycled whey.
- High-quality meal prep – Exhibitors at the Winter Show showcased several products to help home cooks prepare meals with restaurant-quality ingredients. Products ran the gamut from croutons to smoked and sea urchin butter – with high-end flavor use and a little indulgence as a common goal.
- Health in balance – While the past few years have put health and immune system boosting foods top of mind, consumers still want to indulge. Better-for-you snacks and treats continue to dominate.
- Beneficial beans and lentils – Beans, such as black, pinto and fava, as well as lentils, dominated at the Winter Show as protein alternatives and better-for-you chip options. Some products such as South African Chakalaka are “diverse owned and new ideas on the market,” said Jonathan Deutsch, trendspotter.
The Specialty Food Association has been the leading trade association and source of information about the $175 billion specialty food industry for 70 years. Founded in 1952 in New York City, the SFA represents manufacturers, importers, retailers, distributors, brokers and others in the trade.