For anyone who wants to see what the next hot products at retail will be, a visit to the Summer Fancy Food Show, running June 26-28 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City, is in order. The gourmet/specialty channel is often where items capitalizing the latest trends in consumer eating habits are introduced, from which they filter into mainstream supermarkets.
The vast show floor – featuring more than 1,370 exhibitors from the United States, as well as another 1,300 from 55 additional countries – presented a stuffed-to-bursting, varied pantry of products representing every conceivable category. Following are some particularly strong trends noted at the annual event:
It’s no longer enough for many consumers that products be tasty and convenient – the products must also be good for them. This applies not just to food eaten as meals, but also to even the most indulgent snacks, some of them targeting specific demographics. Items at the show that fit this description included Miracle Noodle shirataki pasta, made from konjac root and touted as containing zero carbs and calories, as well as being gluten-free, vegan and diabetic-friendly; Green Leaf Foods’ all-natural, antioxidant-rich Raw Wraps, crafted from kale and spinach and originally created by a functional-medicine nurse practitioner for patients with food sensitivities; Melt Organic Probiotic Spread, a butter spread featuring virgin coconut, high-oleic sunflower and flaxseed oils and created in partnership with Ganeden; and Orto Foods’ JicaChips, made from low-glycemic jicama, which contains 50 percent of the calories and carbs of a potato while offering the prebiotic inulin, fiber, potassium and vitamin C, among other benefits.
On the confection front, Bar & Girls Naturals mini bars have been specially formulated to support the health and well-being of women age 40 and older, while better-for-you frozen treats include dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan Revolution Gelato; probiotic- and antioxidant-laden, gluten-free Brio, which also features 50 percent less fat than comparable super-premium brands; and EatPops, all-natural fruit and veggie ice pops containing no added sugar, whose varieties sport such names as Green Detox, Super Detox, Activate, Restore and Cleanse. In the beverage sector, Arteasan’s 5-calorie iced tea infusion offers “unique ingredients [that] naturally work together to deliver essential benefits such as calm, energy, focus and wellness.”
The idea of health has moved beyond one’s own body to take in the environment and the betterment of one’s community. Leveraging this trend, among many examples at the show, were Safe Catch tuna, which is sustainably caught, individually tested (the only brand to do so, according to the company), hand-prepared and packed in its own natural fish oils; Droga Chocolates’ Money on Honey wildflower honey caramels line – another 2016 sofi winner – which donates a portion of all sales to Project Apis M., a nonprofit dedicated to funding and directing research to enhance the health of honeybee colonies and improve crop production; and Chuao Chocolatier’s Enamored Collection of Fair Trade botanical-infused organic chocolate bars created to appeal specifically to women, with the company contributing $1 from every seven full-size bars sold to female-empowerment organization Girls Inc..
More Cheese, Please
Along with all of the cheese varieties on display – including a particularly delicious baked Finnish cheese – there were products prominently featuring or, in some cases, entirely made from cheese, which is recognized not just for its flavor, but also as a low-carb food. Among the cheese straws, crisps, crackers and other items at the show were John Wm. Macy’s SweetSticks, a line of sourdough twists containing Monterey Jack Cheese, butter and sweet ingredients; one of Kitchen Table Bakers’ latest line additions, 2016 sofi Award-winning ParmCrisps Mini Aged Parmesan Chips, which deliver plenty of flavor while also being wheat-, gluten-, sugar- and trans fat-free, and Lotito Foods’ Folios, lightly baked cheese sheets in parmesan, Jarlsberg and cheddar varieties that can be used as wraps or rolls, crisped in the microwave to create a bowl for pasta or a salad, or melted as a topping. In a class of its own, perhaps, was cheese-infused chocolate from a Latvian company, Laima.
Finger on the Pulse
As most readers have no doubt heard, it’s the International Year of Pulses, designated as such by the United Nations to position pulses as a primary source of protein and other essential nutrients. This goal was already on the minds of a good number of exhibitors at the Summer Fancy Food Show. In addition to chickpea-, lentil-, bean- and other pulse-based noshes from the likes of Beanfields, Beanitos, The Good Bean and Biena, RW Garcia displayed a new line of pulse tortilla chips whose three varieties feature 26 percent black bean lentil and chickpea, respectively, along with ancient grains. Offerings here weren't limited to snacks, though: Companies such as Explore Pasta and Pedon’s More Than Pasta offered noodles made from lentils, edamame, adzuki beans, peas and other pulses, citing the ingredient’s high protein content and absence of gluten.
Other items of interest exhibited at the show included granola snacks moving beyond the standard bars to such items as Viki's Granola Bark, featuring the ingredient in a healthier version of a brittle-style confection, and Gourmet Nut's kid-friendly Strawberry Granola Nuggets; cold-brewed coffee products, with new offerings from Califia Farm and Brewla, the latter of which has launched an all-natural cold-brewed coffee ice pop; beets showing up as produce snacks to eat on the go (Love Beets) and as an ingredient in mustard (Terrapin Ridge) salsa (Gringo Jack’s), chips (Natural Sins, Rhythm Superfoods), crackers (RW Garcia), juice and precooked products (both Love Beets again); unexpected combinations like Delighted By's dessert hummus line; and a plethora of high-protein, low-carb meat snacks, including jerky in a variety of flavors, mini sausages and, from such brands as Krave, Epic Provisions and Organic Prairie, bars.