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Specialty Food Association Summer Fancy Food Show Trends

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Over 200,000 products awaited the Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel at the 64th Annual Summer Fancy Food Show. Held June 30 to July 2 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, the show encompassed six football fields worth of specialty food and beverages. Members of the panel were armed with predictions from earlier in the year as they tasted their way through the show, confirming some current, and identifying new and emerging trends.

Denise Purcell, Head of Content, Specialty Food Association“The specialty food industry has grown to over $140 billion. Innovation is a key growth driver, and we definitely saw that at the Summer Fancy Food Show,” said Denise Purcell, head of content for the Specialty Food Association. “We’re seeing new flavors and new formats of food. Plant-based foods are growing from a trend into an overall movement, and upcycling is huge. Spins on classics continue to surprise us, and flavors from around the world continue to grow prominent in the marketplace. No matter where you look, something exciting is happening.”

The Summer Trendspotter Panel included Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, global food analyst, Mintel; Kenneth Blanchette, quality assurance director, fresh departments, Center of Excellence, FreshDirect; Massimo Bottura, chef and restaurateur, Osteria Francescana; Eleonora Cozzella, writer and lecturer; Jonathan Deutsch, Professor, Center for Food and Hospitality Management and Department of Nutrition Sciences, Drexel University and founder of the Drexel Food Lab; Melina Romero, manager, Trend Practice, CCD Innovation; Kriti Sehgal, CEO, Pure Fare; Stan Sagner, Writer, Marketing & Content Consultant; Alison Tozzi Liu, vice president of marketing, communications, and editorial, James Beard Foundation.


Upcycled Foods

As awareness of food waste broadens, the SFA Trendspotter Panel predicted more products coming to market made with upcycled ingredients—food scraps or leftovers that would otherwise go to waste being repurposed into a new product.

RIND Snacks, Skin-on Superfruit Snacks, using the whole fruit

  • RIND Snacks, Skin-on Superfruit Snacks, using the whole fruit
  • RISE Products, Whole Barley Super Flour, stone ground whole barley flour hand made from upcycled grain
  • Williwaw Foods, Salmon Skin Cracklets, made from the skins of salmon from the waters of Patagonia
  • TBJ Gourmet, Abundantly Good Spiced Tomato Jam, made with tomato tops and bottoms

Cassava Snacks

Plant-based foods are a top 2018 trend, according to the Trendspotter panel, and are visible across categories. At the Summer Fancy Food Show, cassava emerged as a new plant-based snack food.

  • Jans, Cassava Chips
  • Nanduto Home Cooking, Cassava Leaves Chips
  • Coco International, Inc., Popped Cassava Chips
  • Siete, Cassava Chips

Hidden, or Unexpected, Fruits and Vegetables

Tied to the plant-based and the overall better-for-you trends, producers are blurring the lines in treats and snacks. Options for eating vegetables are even more diverse and fun, with the added value of their nutrients sneaking in as an unexpected ingredient.

Peekaboo Hidden Veggies, organic ice cream in flavors like Chocolate with Hidden Cauliflower

  • Peekaboo Hidden Veggies, organic ice cream in flavors like Chocolate with Hidden Cauliflower, and Strawberry with Hidden Carrot
  • CAULIPOWER, vegetable-based Baking Mixes
  • Growers Garden, Broccoli Crisps


This cruciferous vegetable was another emergence in the plant-based trend. In the quest for the “next kale”, cauliflower has appeared with increasing frequency on restaurant menus. More cauliflower-based packaged products are hitting retail shelves, and are hailed as a carb substitute and beneficial source of vitamins and nutrients.

  • Halen Brands, From The Ground Up, Cauliflower Pretzels
  • Hummus Gourmet, Cauliflower Hummus
  • Cali’flour Foods, Cauliflower Wrap

Flavors of Africa

The SFA Trendspotter Panel pointed to regional Middle Eastern foods as growing in prominence. This remains true, however notable products at the Summer Fancy Food Show indicate that flavors from Africa are gaining notice, and establishing more of a presence in the mainstream marketplace.

Ahara Rasa, Niter Kibbeh - Ethiopian Spiced Ghee

  • Ahara Rasa, Niter Kibbeh - Ethiopian Spiced Ghee
  • International Delicacies, KITCHEN & LOVE, Stir and Go Quick Meals in Moroccan Vegetable Harissa
  • Ginjan Bros., Ginjan, a traditional West African ginger juice made with ginger, cold-pressed pineapple, lemons, vanilla, anise, and cane sugar
  • Ayoba-Yo, South African-style biltong, a dried, cured meat that originated in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. This version uses grass-fed beef that is air dried and seasoned
  • Manitou Trading Company, Senegalese Fonio Pilaf, fonio with a Yassa spice blend

Sparkling Beverages

According to SFA research, The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2018, beverage categories collectively have grown 18 percent in retail sales between 2015 and 2017—faster than food categories. Sparkling beverages, particularly, were prevalent at the show and have been gaining prominence as alternatives to soda, mixers for cocktails, as well as cocktail alternatives altogether.

TÖST, Dry Sparkling Beverage

  • TÖST, Dry Sparkling Beverage
  • Jax Coco,Sparkling Coconut Waters
  • Caskai,Sparkling Cascara Infusion
  • Kimino Drinks, SparklingYuzu
  • O.Vine, Wine-Grape Infused Water

Sustainability-Minded Products

Producers continue to bring products to market that incorporate principles of sustainability, and environmental and ethical awareness.

  • OneForNeptune, White Fish Jerky, sustainably sourced and uses the offcuts from whitefish processing
  • Ocean Hugger Foods,Ahimi, a tomato-based tuna substitute for sushi created as a response to overfishing for tuna
  • Farmtrue, Ghee-Nut Butter, nut spreads that use ghee-clarified butter in place of palm oil, which has been linked with deforestation.


2018 SFA Trendspotter panel predictions that are ramping up in packaged foods.

Mansi exhibited Calamansi Juice, made from a small round citrus fruit that’s ubiquitous in the Philippines

  • Cannabis cuisine was noted by the Trendspotters as trend that would emerge in 2018. We are starting to see the beginning in beverages and snacks in the specialty food arena, notably with products like Vera Roasting Wellness Blend CoffVee, which are organic beans infused with CBD sourced from organically grown hemp, in addition to heart-healthy resveratrol.
  • Collagen-infused foods. Eating for beauty is an emerging trend and collagen is becoming a go-to ingredient in foods and beverages to replace diminishing levels as consumers age. The Cali’Flour wrap mentioned above contains collagen protein, and Vermont Village Organic Beauty Boost Functional Vinegar is a combination of raw and organic apple cider vinegar mixed with cherry juice and lime juice and spiked with collagen. The panel expects to see more collagen snacks and beverages hit the market.
  • Foods from the Philippines. Another 2018 Trendspotter pick, while more Filipino cuisine is being added to menus in foodservice, we’re also seeing more packaged products using authentic ingredients and flavors. Mansi exhibited Calamansi Juice, made from a small round citrus fruit that’s ubiquitous in the Philippines, and CJC Pit Barbecue is selling its Lechon sauce, a traditional sauce made from pork liver, vinegar, breadcrumbs, and spices.


The following trends emerged at the Summer Fancy Food Show:

Single-Serve Condiment Pouches

Packaging innovations for on-the-go eating are becoming more prominent.

La Tourangelle, avocado oil

  • La Tourangelle, avocado oil
  • Epicurean Butter, finishing butter
  • Spread Delights, hazelnut spread
  • Little Bird Kitchen, Fire Syrup, a simple syrup infused with jalapeño

Egg Protein

The familiar and humble egg is becoming a hero ingredient, delivering protein without carbs with mainstream appeal.

  • Bantam Bagels, Egg Bites, scrambled egg-filled bagel bites in Original, Onion Gruyere, Chipotle, and Veggie flavors.
  • Vital Farms, Pasture-Raised Hard Boiled Eggs, two refrigerated eggs for on-the-go eating.
  • Eggurt, probiotic yogurt drink made from pasteurized egg whites—a good source of protein that is gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free.

Spicy and Infused Maple Syrup

Maple syrups infused with spices and teas are starting to pop up. Examples:

  • Black Shank, Spicy Maple Syrup—Wasabi
  • Runamok Maple, Jasmine Tea-Infused Maple Syrup

For information on the 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show being held in San Francisco from January 13-15, click here.

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