The 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show is an annual convention that showcases the best of gourmet specialty foods and international culinary delights to food buyers across the country. It’s also a great gauge of up-and-coming food trends that will hit your local supermarket’s store shelves in about a year or two. Trends like sun-dried tomatoes, salsa and Sriracha hot sauce all made their debuts to a mass audience at the Fancy Food Show.
Here were the top five trends spotted at this year’s show.
Raw or artisan honeys may not be new, but after the Stevia craze a few years back, food-makers are turning to honey as the “newest” all-natural sweetener. And its distinctive flavor gives it an edge over other sweeteners. I saw it infused into balsamic vinegar, candies, energy bars and even sugar itself.
2. Gourmet beef
Wagyu, Kobe, Prime or grass-fed beef just isn’t enough anymore. Some ranchers are turning to innovative, all-natural methods to create everything from artisan jerky snacks to meat with more protein and less fat to beef with more marbling. And it’s all being done without hormones, antibiotics or anything artificial. Only time will tell if it’s too good to be true.
3. More Korean options
Korean-influenced products and flavors are all the rage. Korean food is full of bold flavors and spices, like red chili peppers, and sometimes has a touch of sweetness. Everything from traditional items — like artisan kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage) — to ready-made sauces, snacks and even frozen meals are showing up on grocery shelves.
4. Rice snacks
This year there was an abundance of rice treats, turning the traditional notion of dry, Styrofoam-like rice cakes on its head. There were frosted rice crisps, red and black rice crackers and even orange-creamsicle-glazed rice snacks. Add the fact that rice is a common and popular gluten-free option, and the possibilities are both endless and extremely marketable.
A few years ago, it was artisan ice creams. Then, we moved into fancy ice cream sandwiches. This year’s dessert trend is cookies. Yes, cookies. Think beyond chocolate chip cookies made by elves. Gourmet cookie crisps, sandwiches, bites, even veggie-infused cookies are hitting the market, proving there’s more to life than just oatmeal raisin.