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The Fresh Market’s Top 10 Must-Try Specialty Foods for 2021

Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
The Fresh Market’s Top 10 Must-Try Specialty Foods for 2021
The Fresh Market curators picked their top 10 innovative specialty foods, based on the latest trends.

The Fresh Market recently asked its curators to pick their top 10 innovative, delicious must-try specialty foods, based on the latest trends. 

Predicting consumers to be more creative in the kitchen, thanks to mandatory quarantines, the curators believe that more consumers will be eager to try new cuisines or put innovative twists on traditional favorites.

“What is special about The Fresh Market is that you can always discover new flavors, harder-to-find brands from smaller producers and be assured that it is best in class in terms of flavor and quality ingredients,” said Dan Portnoy, CMO at The Fresh Market. “Our team of curators are constantly bringing in new products that are on trend and help you elevate your meals.”

The Fresh Market top 10 specialty foods trends for 2021 are:  

1. Easy Meals for Second-Wind Cooking

Juggling more people than ever working from home, participating in virtual schooling and getting their families fed, offering busy families a way to put a restaurant-quality meal on the table fast has led to the growth of The Fresh Market’s Market Meal Kits. The fully prepped kits serve two and are made fresh in-store with a protein, a vegetable, a starch and a sauce. Each kit can be made in one pan and be on the table in 20 minutes or less. New for 2021 are Market Meal Creations, allowing guests to create their own meal kit by selecting their preferred components to mix and match.

Also new for 2021 is the Little Big Meal Grain Bowls dinner program, in which guests choose a protein (chicken or shrimp) and get a pouch of Kevin’s Paleo Keto Simmer Sauce to cook it in, along with a choice of edamame or chickpeas plus two pouches of Organic Seeds of Change Rice and a root medley veggie kit. The meal is offered for $20, which is a $15 savings versus buying these ingredients individually.

2. Conscious Cuisine

While being sustainably sourced or humanely raised isn't a new trend, foods that are not only good for you, but also give back, are on the rise. Some examples of this trend are Herban Fresh’s new handcrafted soups that support urban farming.

Other products reinforcing this trend are the Endangered Species Oat Milk Chocolate Bars, which are made with sustainably sourced oat milk and are certified organic and vegan, with 10% of profits going to support wildlife conservation. Additionally, Yolele’s Fonio Pilaf is an ancient grain grown in small farming communities in Sahel Region of West Africa. The brand was founded by acclaimed Senegalese chef and cookbook author Pierre Thiam.

3. Getting to the Root of Inflammation

Root vegetables like ginger and turmeric are ideal to help fight inflammation and boost immunity. Consumers can add green juice, or use the root vegetables in curries, stir-fries, soups or teas for a powerful dose of antioxidants.

4. Bubbles with Benefits

When it comes to beverages, The Fresh Market’s merchandising curators say that there are two examples of products offering healthier twists on soda. The Health-Ade’s Booch Pop builds off the gut-health craze by blending Health Ade’s kombucha with gut-healthy prebiotics, minerals and real fruit. Meanwhile, better-for-you Olipop fizzy tonic combines plant fibers, prebiotics and botanicals to  support gut health as well.  

5. Planting Roots in Dairy

Plant-based options are increasing in the dairy and freezer sections. For instance, Modern Pop is a mom-created line of lower-sugar nondairy, vegan ice cream bars made with avocados and available in flavors like Chocolate Oh Fudge, Cookies ‘n Cream, and Mint Chip, and Strong Roots’ frozen Broccoli & Purple Carrot Bites are a colorful, flavorful and nutritious substitute for potato tots.

6. Nut-novation

Since they're packed with protein, fiber, good-for-you fats, and are heart healthy, nuts have the potential to be the ideal better-for-you snack. The Fresh Market offers 35 flavored nut options in the bulk section, with bold flavors like Everything Spice Cashews, Dark Coco Chili Almonds, Turmeric and Ginger Cashews, Buffalo Peanuts, Bourbon Pralines, and Sea Salt & Apple Cider Vinegar Cashews.

7. Bring on the Heat

Another hot trend is seasonings and spices. The Fresh Market has custom-made seasoning blends that not only add heat, but also a new flavor dimension, to meals. Nashville Hot Chicken starts out fiery but is tempered with some sweetness and a mustardy tang. Other game-changers are Chili Coffee rub, Korean Ginger Sesame, Citrus Mojo and Elote Mexican Street Corn Spice.

8. Uber Premium Foods

Since travel bans have largely put a stop to luxury travel for the time being, consumers are splurging more on best-in-class foods like Castillo de Canena extra-virgin olive oil or Organic Rogue River Blue Cheese — the 2019 World Cheese Awards winner. In August, The Fresh Market introduced its Ultimate Steakhouse Dinner Meals that include prime steaks, twice-baked potatoes, asparagus, caprese salad, and the grocer's signature fruit tart featuring 1 pound of fresh fruit. 

9. Supporting Diversity

More grocers are making a commitment to increase product offerings from Black-owned companies and The Fresh Market is no exception. Some examples that are also on trend include Hella Cocktail Co., which produces all-natural bitters and soda; Partake Foods, which creates gluten and allergy-free cookies; and Pipcorn which makes better-for-you cheese balls and snack crackers made with heirloom corn.

 10. Decadent Snacking

Snacks are going to the next level of indulgence. Inspired by its signature cake truffles, famed East Village New York City bakery Milk Bar is launching a line of refrigerated Truffle Crumb Cakes that are fudgy on the inside, crunchy on the outside and come in a snack-size portion. Then there's Maddy & Maize, which produces small-batch gourmet popcorn in flavors like Birthday Cake and seasonal offerings such as Peppermint Fudge Sundae. In the frozen section, Jeni’s ice cream continues to innovate for adult palates with decadent flavors like Gooey Butter Cake, Sweet Cream Biscuits with Peach Jam, or dairy-free Texas Sheet Cake.

The Fresh Market operates 159 stores across 22 states. The Greensboro, North Carolina-based company is No. 71 on Progressive Grocer’s 2020 PG 100 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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