Five Trends From 2024 Winter Fancy Food Show


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New York — Five overall trends were identified by the Specialty Food Association (SFA) Trendspotter Panel during the group’s 2024 Winter Fancy Food Show.

“The Winter Fancy Food Show gave participants an advance look at the year ahead in specialty foods. Thanks to our Trendspotters, as well as many other experts and influencers who joined us in Las Vegas, our show provides crucial insights and forecasting at the start of the food industry’s annual cycle. Trends at last month’s show included comfort foods from around the globe prepared using plants rather than animal-based ingredients; fruits as part of a snacking occasion and a prevalence of the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, in particular; and elevated takes on classic favorites,” says SFA President Bill Lynch.

The Winter Fancy Food Show Trendspotters are: Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo, food and sustainability consultant, PG Consulting Group, LLC; Jenn de la Vega, chef, stylist, cookbook author, trends expert, Randwiches; Jonathan Deutsch, professor and director, Drexel Food Lab; Jeanette Donnarumma, producer, cook, recipe developer/tester, food lover, content creator, party-planner; Sarah Lohman, culinary historian, author, and public speaker; Chef Clara Park, claraparkcooks.com, chef, teacher, consultant and writer; Wendy Robinson, program manager and senior buyer, Market Hall Foods; Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., CFS, IFT Fellow, Corvus Blue LLC; Cathy Strange, Ambassador of Food Culture, Whole Foods, V. Sheree Williams, publisher, Cuisine Noir, and founder, Global Food and Drink Initiative.

Plant-Based Passport Flavor innovations abound as global comfort foods appeal to vegan and vegetarian audiences with plant-based ingredients. Park says of a plant-based spicy bulgogi spotted on the Show floor: “The plant-based innovation on a very popular Korean beef dish allows more accessibility for diners. Vegetarians and vegans can now enjoy the flavor of Korean barbecue, hurray!”

Examples:

  • Aki Foods plant-based pork tonkotsu
  • Ibiden Bussan Co Ltd animal-free shrimp
  • Masaru Foods plant-based tonkotsu broth
  • Jayone Foods plant-based spicy bulgogi
  • Prime Roots x Three Little Pigs Black Truffle Koji-Pate
  • Sobo Foods Plant-Based “Pork” and Chive Dumpling
  • Sunday Supper Mozza Fritto
  • Xinca Foods Four Loroco and Cheese Pupusas

Yuzu Japanese citrus fruit yuzu was “everywhere” at the Winter Fancy Food Show, flavoring foods from a variety of categories, including drinks, ranch dressing, soy sauce, and candied dried fruit peels, says de la Vega.

Examples:

  • Domoto Food Yuzu Kosho
  • Kankitsu Labo Yuzu Sherbet
  • Maeda-en Yuzu Sherbet
  • Moshi Yuzu Sparkling Beverage

Upcycled and Upscaled Ugly fruits and byproducts that would otherwise end up in landfills are getting a glow-up in upcycled specialty products that have been further elevated by high-end packaging that looks good and is often sustainable. “For upcycled brands, the packaging will ideally match the sustainability-focus of the product,” says Deutsch. “As sustainable packaging gets more sophisticated and affordable, brands can align their better-for-the planet mission beyond the product to include the packaging.”

Examples:

  • Pressed Juicery Cold Pressed Juices
  • Rancho Meladuco California Grown Dates
  • Wheyward Spirit Whisky

Fruits as Snacks Whether enjoyed on their own, elevated with an indulgent ingredient, or used in an inventive way, nature’s candies are breathing new life into snacking occasions. “We’re seeing a push away from highly processed foods and a return to fruit as snacks,” says Deutsch.

Examples:

  • Kankitsu Labu Dry Candied Citrus Peels
  • Liko Lehua Guava Butter
  • Lolly’s Frozen Grapes
  • Shizuoka Crown Melon
  • Sun World AUTUMNCRISP Grapes

New Takes on Classics Many of the new products on the Fancy Food Show floor “combine innovation with a classic twist,” says Ramirez-Arroyo who cites Acme Smoked Fish Lox in a Box as an example. “Taste the elegance of fancy Lunchables featuring smoked salmon, cream cheese, or avocado paired with crackers.”

Examples:

  • Cookies con Amore Glutenetto gluten-free cookies
  • Acme Smoked Fish Lox in a Box
  • Tempesta Artisan Salumi Wagyu Pastrami
  • Unha’s Asian Snack Box Spicy Carbonara Tteokbokki
  • Wild Bill’s Craft Beverage Co. Rocket Pop

Continuing to Trend

Non-Alcoholic Comes of Age Spirit-free cocktails and mixers with sophisticated flavor profiles in upscale vessels are elevating dry drinking occasions. “Dry January used to be a thing, but more and more people are embracing the lifestyle behind the month and therefore restaurants and bars need to go beyond soft drinks,” says Williams. “Tilden and a few other brands are trying to tap into this growing market with innovative flavors and textures that make the drinks go beyond juice.”

Examples:

  • RSRV Collective Amari Kensho Cocktail
  • Mixly Cocktail Co. premium mixers
  • Tilden Tandem non-alcoholic cocktail

Nuanced Heat “Consumers are getting a lot more nuanced when it comes to how they’re using heat,” says Deutsch. “Do they want fruit-forward or roasted or spiced kind of heat? Now it’s more about the nuance and the right chili pepper for the right product. I’m so happy manufacturers aren’t dumbing down heat for mainstream Americans. I tasted some really spicy things and I think people are up to the task of trying them.”

Examples:

  • Chili Royale Hot Sichuan Sizzle Chili Crisp
  • Grumpy Ginger Malaysian Red Curry Paste
  • Hot Mama Salsa Chili de Arbol Chili Oil
  • KRS Garlic Chili Crisp
  • Tari Peruvian Everything Sauce

Mushrooms “An ancient clean label flavor booster for the specialty food aisle,” says Shelke.

  • High Country Fungus Magic Mocha, Magic Chai, and Magic Coco
  • Terreland Shiitake Chips Wasabi
  • Kuze Fuku & Sons Matsutake Shoyu
  • Meat the Mushroom SHROOMACON