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6 Hottest Food Trends at UNFI's Orlando Show

6,000+ retailers, suppliers and trend-watchers gathered for spring/summer selling event
Gina Acosta, Progressive Grocer
UNFI show
UNFI's show attracted more than 6,200 attendees, including 3,360 retail customers and more than 740 suppliers, spread across more than 100,000 square feet, showcasing more than 1,200 brands.

More than 6,000 retailers, suppliers and trend-watchers attended the United Natural Foods Inc. Spring and Summer Selling Show this month in Orlando, Fla., and one thing is for certain: Banana water is the new coconut water.

That was just one of the emerging new food trends showcased at the show, which has become a must-attend event for spotting significant shifts in the grocery retail space early in the year. 

"Customers came seeking deals for their shoppers, and suppliers were willing to accommodate them," said UNFI East Region President Kelly Sosa. "The breadth of customers, from single-store operators to national chains, coupled with the range of suppliers, created a great show energy and a win-win atmosphere, and proves why in-person shows are so valuable."

Over the two-day event, UNFI hosted more than 3,300 customers from the company's U.S. East and Central regions. They connected with UNFI’s extensive community of suppliers from across North America, who were offering a wide range of conventional, fresh, natural, and organic products as well as retail solutions for the total store.

[RELATED: How Whole Foods Market Remains an Organic Trailblazer]

Some of the most innovative products I saw at the show included:

  1. Frosted Rice Krispies Treats are the new cupcakes and cake pops. Have you ever tasted a freshly iced Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treat? Trust me on this one. It's delicious. Kellanova had several stations of snack products such as Rice Krispies that can be turned into into the perfect snacks for holiday occasions and entertaining activities. Decorating Rice Krispies Treats sounds like a great idea for Easter parties; I can see the TikToks already.
  2. In the cheese aisle, Feta continues to sell really well, and Odyssey has several new Feta products including multi flavor dips capitalizing on this trend.  
  3. Brioche bread continues to be popular with consumers, and many of them are now looking for extensions of those products. Enter St. Pierre Groupe, which is featuring new multipack faves such as butter waffles and pretzel buns for hot dogs. Speaking of the bakery, La Brea Bakery keeps expanding its popular Take and Bake line.
  4. Breakfast innovations keep exploding, and Jenny Lee Swirl Bread has a delicious frozen breakfast sandwich made with cinnamon bread. Yum.
  5. Beef innovations I saw included Pre's value-added Grass Fed and Finished marinated beef products in on-trend flavors such as Korean Bulgogi and Barbacoa; Holten's Chophouse Smashed Burgers in various flavors; and Thor's Hammer (don't miss the photo in the photo gallery below) from National Beef. I would like to figure out how to put that Thor's Hammer a beautiful Frenched beef hind shank on the grill, but it's probably best braised in the oven.
  6. In the natural foods space, several products stood out at the show: low carb pork rind croutons from Krutones; uber clean label Aura Bora Sparkling Water; regenerative Zack's Mighty Tortilla Chips; low carb Miracle Noodle's noodles made with egg whites; De Soi non-alcoholic bubbly aperitifs with tons of functional benefits; Evergreen's waffle products packed with veggies, protein, fiber and taste; there's a patch for every wellness goal at The Patch Brand (more about them below); buckwheat really started to take off last year, and Maine Crisp Co. has crackers in many flavors; Seapoint Farms decided to make crispy Texas Barbecue flavored lentil snacks, and I thank them for that; Mama O's Kimchili Sauce combines popular kimchi and sriracha flavors; and last but not least, if you haven't tried new hydration hero banana water from Woodstock, you will, because it's going to be everywhere! 

The show attracted more than 6,200 attendees, including 3,360 retail customers; more than 740 suppliers, spread across more than 100,000 square feet, showcasing more than 1,200 brands; dozens of new products, with 25 featured as UpNext emerging brands; and more than 60 Certified Diverse Suppliers.

"UNFI’s shows are tremendously important for us, from networking with our UNFI account team to negotiating directly with vendors," said Dave Knoop, president of Grove City County Market. "Having UNFI as a partner to support, educate, and guide our team is helping us secure valuable discounts that we can then pass on to our shoppers."

One of the most anticipated sessions at every UNFI show is the company’s unique Pitch Slam competition, where contestants pitch their innovative new products to a live audience. Seven contestants competed in Orlando’s Pitch Slam competition and the winner was The Patch Brand, which makes adhesive patches that stick to skin and contain vitamins and other nutrients. The patch enables the wearer to absorb the vitamins through the skin instead of ingesting them.

UNFI also completed the recognition of its 2023 customer Circle of Excellence winners. You can see a complete list of the winners here.

Photo Gallery

Notable Products at UNFI Spring and Summer Selling Show

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