2017 Winter Fancy Food Show Trend Report

The Winter Fancy Food Show kicks off the new year by introducing the latest specialty food products to trendspotters like me. This specialty food showcase has expanded lately to include products that fit more squarely in the natural products channel; in fact, some natural brands are waiting until the March 2017 Natural Products Expo to show off new offerings. I find the overlap intriguing, another sign of the blurring of channels, brand promises and consumer needs. This blurring ends up propelling some trends faster and farther.

Take drinking vinegars. I first reported on these vinegar + fruit juice concentrates coming out of Asia in 2009; at the time, they were linked to weight loss. I spotted them in the depths of the Fancy Food hall at the rear of the Asian country pavilions and wondered how they would make their move. An early crossover was the housemade “soms” Andy Ricker of Pok Pok Thai in Portland was serving with soda. Fast forward to today and Pok Pok has a full line of bottled som syrups and som-based sodas. These products don't necessarily attract kombucha-loving consumers but rather fans of flavor and cross-cultural adventure. At the Show this year, the drinking vinegar trend has expanded to include apple-cider-vinegar-based beverages with a health slant (Suju Drinking Vinegars), fire cider tonics (Life Fire, Fire Brew), imported drinking vinegars (Olitalia Drink Vinegar made with balsamic), cocktail-oriented shrubs (Roland Shrubs, Sonoma Syrup Shrubs), and tangy sparkling vinegar sips (Tartly Sparkling Fruit Shrubs). This merging of health, flavor, artisan and heritage drivers is the powerful magic that drives culinary trends towards the mainstream.

Here’s a look at 2017 trend themes and the new products adding to their momentum. And don't miss my Best Bites list!

Grainless Diets – The evolution of gluten-free, bringing into the fold Paleos, carb-counters, Ketogenic dieters and even vegetable hounds.

  • Almond meal + coconut flour crackers from Simple Mills
  • Cassava flour, and not just tapioca, in Other Foods Baking Mixes, Siete Tortillas and Tortilla Chips
  • Cauliflower standing in as a grain in Cauli Rice, Cali-Flour pizza crusts, Outer Aisle Gourmet sandwich thins

Vegetable Love – How many creative ways can virtuous veggies flavor and enhance foods?

  • Vegan Rob’s Vegetable Puffs featuring Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprout and Beet Puffs; Rob is the creator of Pirates Booty, so he knows his puffs
  • Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps Veggie Flats
  • Paul & Pippa Tomato Bravo Biscuits made with olive oil
  • Teapigs Feel-Good Beet Tea
  • Rhythm Superfoods Beet Chips

Flavor of the Show: Turmeric (with or without actual health benefits)

  • La Pasta Turmeric & Parsley Tagliatelle
  • Numi Organic Tea Turmeric Chai Latte
  • Pok Pok Som Soda
  • Living Intentions Activated Superfood Popcorn Tandoori Turmeric

2017 Protein Snack Form: Meat Sticks and Bars

  • From Krave, Field Trip, Primal Kitchen, Perky Jerky and every other jerky brand it seemed

Ever-So Convenient – Single-serve, instant, grab-and-go mania

  • Hummistir self-stable instant hummus
  • Pranayums Super Spice Shots – ayurvedic-inspired spice blend to add to coffee, tea, smoothies, cereal and more
  • Hak’s Premium Salad Dressing in single-serve, ready-to-pour packets
  • Cultured Classics Cream Cheese Minis

Wow, I Never Thought of That! Products

  • Pizootz flavor-infused peanuts
  • Eggurt Drink – cultured egg white shots in development
  • Edoughble Ready to Eat Cookie Dough
  • Good King Gourmet Snacking Cacao Whole Beans

Best Bite Awards

  • Dang Foods Sticky-Rice Chips – Coconut Crunch, Original Recipe, Sriracha Spice, soaked in watermelon juice; feels like eating the crunchy rice from the bottom of the pan
  • PB Thins Real Peanut Butter Crackers - So wickedly good and crunchy
  • Paul and Pippas Lime After Time - made with lime zest in the dough
  • Unna Swedish Cookies – Brown butter and almonds, yum!
  • Sun Tropics Coco Rolls – A gluten-free coconut milk snack typically found only in Asian grocers
  • Masala Pop Caramel Rose Popcorn - Go rose!

 
Tartly Sparkling Shrubs

Tartly Sparkling Shrubs

Siete Cassava Flour Grainless Chips

Siete Cassava Flour Grainless Chips

U.K. Cauli Rice - self-stable

U.K. Cauli Rice - self-stable

Hummistir - shelf-stable DIY hummus kit from Israel

Hummistir - shelf-stable DIY hummus kit from Israel

Favorite bite of the whole show

Favorite bite of the whole show

Simple, delicious, brown butter  

Simple, delicious, brown butter