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Market Hall Foods' Wendy Robinson Discusses Trends Ahead of Winter Fancy Food Show

Market Hall Foods' Wendy Robinson Discusses Trends Ahead of Winter Fancy Food Show

Tuesday, January 16th, 2024

Attending industry events like the upcoming Winter Fancy Food Show is a fantastic way for buyers to stay on top of trends, as Wendy Robinson, Senior/Import Buyer at Market Hall Foods, tells me. The specialty food expert will be a panelist on the show’s Trendspotter Panel, so I got in touch with her to hear about what we can expect to see.

Wendy Robinson, Senior/Import Buyer, Market Hall Foods“We're going to see the same trends we've seen the past couple of years at the Winter Fancy Food Show, which include alternative meat items, diverse specialty sauces, specialty snacks, beverages with adegens in them, and products that utilize fast cooking methods,” Wendy begins. “The specialty market is growing at a rapid rate, so I am curious to see the next innovation as new entrepreneurs are coming up through the specialty food world again, reinventing the industry post-covid.”

A trend that's going to be strong is continued in-store shopping, as Wendy tells me. She has noticed a real dip in e-commerce across the country. If there's not a viability in that space moving forward, she expects to see those avenues closing down and more in-store shopping happening.

In terms of bringing new products to market, I ask Wendy how brands can set themselves apart.

“To stand out within the trends space, it really dives down to what the brand's core essence is. What is the brand trying to express and get into the market? What is its value? What is the raw material that is the shining star from your product? Take that and use it as a beacon,” Wendy says. “Going beyond that, I think it's looking at your demographic and your market. The United States is vast, so what I sell in the Bay Area is very different than what I'm going to sell in other parts of the country.”

Market Hall Foods' Wendy Robinson will be a  panelist on the WFFS’s Trendspotter Panel, where she will focus on growing trends such as in-store grocery shopping, alternative meats, specialty snacks, and more

In addition to attending food shows and reading up on trade news, Wendy adds that it’s also important for buyers to pay attention to what's trending on Instagram and TikTok, because those are affecting the market in a new way. Plus, getting out into your community and going to the farmer's markets is an important tool.

“Buyers should also educate themselves on where the agricultural hotspots are in the U.S., because we really do have some great agricultural hotspots, like in Oregon, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, New York, and more. Those areas will dictate trends too,” Wendy concludes. “I also think networking is super important, because I love to hear someone in New Orleans say what sells really well for them versus Los Angeles or the Midwest, because something that trends nationwide is a really cool thing to see.”

If you will be in attendance, be sure to check out Wendy’s talk during the Trendspotter Panel on the first day of the show. There is much to learn, and I, for one, cannot wait.

Market Hall Foods