February 21, 2018

Top Trends (and My Finds) from the 2018 Fancy Food Winter Show

By: Margaret Core, Vice President, Marketing & Industry Affairs, Food Marketing Institute

Last month I traveled to San Francisco to staff the FMI and SQF food safety attendee information area at the Fancy Food Winter Show. We had a great booth experience with many attendees interested in our food safety accreditation program. In addition to assisting with food safety information, I was able to visit the show and pick up on a few trends to share with you.

The Specialty Food Association (SFA) publishes a Show Daily, by the editors of Specialty Food News, and included an article by Denise Purcell on Trends Spotter & Innovations from Day 1. The article pointed to top trends they found such as Filipino cuisine, foods using root to stem (utilizing an entire fruit or vegetable to reduce food waste), collagen-infused foods, mushrooms, alternative sweeteners like dates, honey, monk fruit, sorghum and goth foods. In addition, SFA trend spotters pointed to a consumer trend, product labeling 2.0, which is greater consumer interest on label visibility of sourcing and ingredient transparency. This trend is right in sync with FMI’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends findings and the SmartLabel™ initiative.

Intrigued by the chance to discover goth foods and forage for mushrooms, I set out to see what I could find on the show floor. Now, what are goth foods? According to Purcell, goth foods are visually compelling black foods made with activated charcoal, which is gaining superfood status. According to BeautyDesk, charcoal, a byproduct of burning wood or plant materials, has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. I set out to find any black ice cream, charcoal-laced juices or lattes on the show floor.

It was easy to find mushrooms! I found a big crowd around the Four Sigmatic booth where they were serving up different mushroom coffee varieties, and buyers talking with Pan’s Mushroom Jerkey and I enjoyed Shitake MushroomChips from Yugou Farms, who also had collagen-infused foods on display.

As I made my way through hundreds of booths in the two Fancy Food Show halls, I did not find any goth foods (that I could tell), but I did find these products that caught my eye:

I was happy to stumble upon Fire Cider, an emerging brand, who boasts apple cider vinegar tonic. Fire Cider, which earns its name easily with one sip, helped my family shorten our December head colds. I walked away with a complimentary shot glass and a Fire Cider cocktail recipe.

My real treat during my venture was to meet, Meg Barnhart, founder and co-creator of the Zen of Slow Cooking. I had heard about Meg’s story and how she started a food company that employs individuals with learning challenges—adults like her son, Doug. Now, Meg and her business partner, Jane McKay, employ 30+ people and have a full line of great slow cooker spice blends.

While the show daily article pointed me to their trends and products, I was happy to find my own list of interesting products. Here is my list via photos. I hope you join us at the Fancy Food Summer Show at the New York Javitz Center in July.