Well, it was certainly nice to get away from the frigid New York cold and attend the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco for a few days. And what a show it was. Walking the aisles, sampling great food, snacks and confectionary, talking with the exhibitors and generally soaking up the atmosphere, there were some stand out categories and trends worth noting.
Walking the show and chatting with Maria Rodale from RODALE, it was clear that organic has now become an integral part of the food industry. No longer a segregated section in the exhibit halls, organic brands and organic offerings are very much a lifestyle choice.
The category shows no sign of slowing down. What was noticeable was the quality and variety of gluten-free brands. But the backlash to this could be the increasing demand for ancient grains and, according to Refinery 29, bread is back!
3. ANCIENT GRAINS
Ancient grains—especially quinoa—are showing up in everything. From chips and bars, to baked goods and ready-to eat meals. With teff, millet, farro and Kamut filling our plates, the new hot grain Freekeh—young wheat which is harvested while still green— is a vegan staple and now going mainstream. Low on the glycemic index and loaded with fiber and minerals, it can be prepared either savory or sweet.
Move over beef and turkey, get ready for everything form tuna to ostrich to kangaroo jerky. Meaty snacks are on the rise and there will be an increase in new brands and flavors as the popular Paleo and other protein diets continue to influence consumer buying habits.
5. SPECIALTY TEA
When you didn’t think it could get any hotter, tea just did! Not only for a good old “cuppa”—even though tea drinking is on the rise—tea is turning up in everything. From tea based cocktail mixes and steamed infusions, to dessert syrups, chocolate and ice cream, tea is taking over our taste buds and the beverage industry. Owl’s Brew teas crafted for cocktails were a standout , and Pukka Teas from the UK are a personal favorite with great herbal combinations.
Talking about taste buds , Srirachia the chili sauce that originated from Thailand is heating things up! Turning up in everything from jams and hummas to chocolate it’s the condiment to watch this year along with Indian inspired sauces like tamarind, mango and mint.
7. ARTISAN EVERYTHING
Cheeses, chocolates, teas, beers and alcohol, artisan was everywhere—especially cheeses. Hand-crafted in traditional ways, there’s something very appealing about artisan foods. Made in small batches, there’s an intimate connection between the food maker and the food consumer that engenders skill, patience, fresh ingredients and a love of good food.
Beechers’s Handmade Cheese got our attention as the cheeses are made in Seattle and in the Flatiron District in New York and some wonderful dairy products from the family owned and operated Bellwether Farms creamery were memorable.
8. SWEET AND SAVORY COMBINATIONS
Can’t make up your mind if you want something sweet or savory, now you don’t have to. Sweet and savory combinations are rocking everything from chocolate to jams, spreads to brownies. My personal favorite combinations, chili pepper brownies, bacon jam and sea salt, caramel chocolate! Seth Greenberg’s Authentic Brownie Crunch, Skillet Bacon Spread and Chuao Chocolatier.
9. BEEF IS BACK
Maybe it’s a resurgence of comfort foods, but beef is returning in a big way. Restaurants and supermarkets are seeing demand for this traditional American staple meat—not just the typical “steak on a plate”, but the cheaper cuts that are great in slow cooked recipes. The new twist on beef which is being driven by a demand for more sustainable farming methods, is grass-fed, pasture raised, free range. Couldn’t get enough of the amazing New Zealand beef from Silver Fern Farms.
10. ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
Over cupcakes? Well ice-cream sandwiches could just be the next indulgent craze. With two of our favorite things—cookies and ice-cream—why not! Just forget about the soggy ice-cream sandwiches of your youth, enter a whole new generation of ice-cream sandwiches…I’m ready! Three Twins Ice Cream won us over, not just for their sustainable, organic mission but their awesome ice cream selections and organic ice cream sandwiches.