Experts Identify Trends From Summer Fancy Food Show


New York — The Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel’s trends from the Summer Fancy Food Show report identifies Flavor Fluidity, Salty Snacks, One-Step Convenience, African Specialties, Asian-Inspired Snack Specialties and Food with an Edgy Attitude as the top emerging trends.

“Specialty food and beverage makers are innovators whose creativity drives our $194 billion industry,” says Denise Purcell, SFA vice-president, resource development. “The trends identified at the 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show will influence not only specialty, but the food industry at large, in the months ahead.”

The panel included Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Mintel; Osei Blackett, chef/owner Ariapita and Everything Oxtail; Mikel Cirkus, Foresight & Trenz, dsm-firmenich; Jenn de la Vega, Put A Egg on It; Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, CHE, CRC, Drexel University; Thomas Joseph, Martha Stewart and Sur La Table; Chala June, writer; Hannah Rogers, Foresight & Trenz, dsm-firmenich, Stan Sagner, Founder, We Work for Food, LLC; Emily Schildt, founder, Pop Up Grocer; Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., CFS, IFT Fellow, Corvus Blue LLC.

Flavor Fluidity — “Flavors that are traditionally representative of one category are entering new and not only adjacent ones,” say Cirkus and Rogers. Look for more cocktail flavors in snacks, dessert flavors in tea, and savory, even meaty, flavors in sweets. Examples:

  • The Barreled Bee Buzz Sticks, cocktail-inspired honey
  • Golden Nest Mint Mojito Coffee Latte
  • Global Teas ChocolaTea
  • Naïve Dry Aged Beef Steak Chocolate

Chip In — Salty snacks hit the top spot in best-selling retail categories for the first time, according to SFA’s State of the Specialty Food Industry research, 2023-2024 edition. Traditional chips are seeing a lot of innovation but the trend extends to alternative grains and vegetable chips as well. Examples:

  • Confetti Snack Mushroom Chips
  • Maname Tempeh Chips
  • Nantucket Stubby Jamaican Jerk Chips
  • Sal de Ibiza Chips La Vie en Rose, potato chips finished with fleur de sel and rose petal flakes
  • Wine Chips Furikake Private Reserve Wine Chip, meant to be paired with sake

One-Step Convenience — The post-pandemic consumer trend of still desiring to cook at home but with more convenience is going strong. The show revealed a slew of one-step products designed to curtail mess, waste, and effort. “Convenience isn’t just on the go. It’s whatever works for you,” says Bartelme. Products like Cornhusker Duck Fat Spray make “sophisticated cooking more accessible through convenience,” says Sagner. Examples:

  • Black & Bolyard’s Brown Butter
  • Cornhusker Duck Fat Spray
  • Fine Italian Food Mantova Poke Spray Oils
  • Mantis Sweet Heat BBQ Dust in powder form
  • Maury’s Hive Tea Tea Bags with integrated honey
  • Pasta Noodles Co. Rapid Cook Meals, cooked using steam tech by adding hot water
  • Shmallow Aerosol Marshmallow Topping

African Specialties — In a trend that began to emerge a few years ago with products like Yolélé’s fonio, foods and beverages from Africa showcasing ingredients, flavors and recipes were a standout. Several of the products are women- and/or BIPOC-owned, and range from sauces with “bold Tanzanian flavor” to nonalcoholic alternatives that use “functional botanicals,” notes June. Examples:

  • Monatea beverage in Ginger, Peach, and African Olive Leaf
  • Chakalaka Mathata, a dry mix of beans, vegetables, and spices
  • Zwita Smoky Harissa
  • Curio Spice Co. Rose Harissa
  • Ubah Hot Hot Sauces in Yellow Tanzanite, Emerald, and Ruby

Asian-Inspired Snack Flavors — Flavors of Asia are cropping up in salty and sweet snacks for a taste of the unexpected.

  • Edie’s for Everybody vegan and organic sunflower seed butter cups in dark chocolate black sesame, white chocolate matcha, white matcha Vietnamese coffee, and white chocolate chai.
  • Næra Snacks Crunchy Capelin with Roe in Wasabi, made from wild caught sustainably harvested Icelandic haddock
  • Tochi Popcorn in Salted Egg, Black Sesame, Black Milk Tea, and Ube.

When Bad Tastes Good — Food and beverage products with an edgy attitude or daring irreverence are trending. Trendspotters have noted an uptick in products “making brazen statements, evocative claims, or even flavor/ingredient combinations that appear to be ‘in bad taste’ but contribute to the brand’s allure by design,” say Cirkus and Rogers. Examples:

  • BeeBad Energy Drinks
  • Bitchin’ Sauce Heat
  • Dirty Cow’s XXXMas Pudding Chocolate
  • Sway’s Endless Libido Gummies
  • Vegan Robs’ Whale Sperm Tortillas

Continuing to trend are the following:

Independent Spirits — The alcohol-free, mocktail space has evolved to become a category in its-own-right with nonalcoholic versions of traditional cocktails, packaging innovations, and increasingly broader brand messaging. “Many brands are pioneering in their approach of inviting consumers to explore the positive aspects of what makes their brand unique and less about the ‘lack of liquor,'” say Cirkus and Rogers. “Botanica Kensho by RSRV Collective claims their product complements self-actualization. New brand Melati focuses on how they worked with an ayurvedic specialist and food scientist to pair southeast Asian botanical’s wisdom with modern science to create a ‘fine spirit.'” Examples:

  • Abstinence Spirits alcohol-free RTD Sparkling Blood Orange Aperitivo Spritz and Sparkling Lemon Aperitivo Spritz
  • Bluestem Botanicals Cocktail and Mocktail Kits
  • Botanica Kensho by RSRV Collective
  • Fauxmosa, alcohol-free mimosa
  • Melati NA Amari
  • Sayso craft cocktail tea bag
  • Serpahim Social Beverage Cacao Calm + Clear, a wine alternative and wellness drink
  • Three Spirit Spark sparkling wine alternative

Pantry Without Borders — One of the Trendspotter panel’s picks for a top trend of 2023, globally inspired condiments, sauces, and seasonings continue to let people travel while dining out or cooking from home. The show saw an extension into Italian pizza flours and shells, Lebanese sauces, and native fruits. Examples:

  • Coma Xoconostle Cactus Fruit Spread from Mexico
  • Molino Signetti Regional Pizza Flour blends, mixes for specific types of pizza (e.g. pinsa, classic, Neopolitan)
  • Pinsa Love Par-Baked Pinsa Shell for foodservice
  • Taha Spreads Toum Spread

Nuanced Heat — Another top Trendspotter pick for 2023 with staying power, brands continue to test new flavors and combinations to enhance heat and spice rather than only overpower with the hottest options. “Complex but with bright flavor and balanced with heat,” says Joseph. Nuanced heat can be found in hot sauces and beyond, extending to categories like butter and incorporating chili crunches, an emerging trend in their own right.

  • Capitana Salsa Machas and Mexican-style Chili Crunch
  • Five Star Montauk Scotch Chipotle Glazing Butter
  • Hot & Saucy Collards N Ghost Hot Sauce
  • Komodo Sauces Black Hot Sauce
  • Lighthouse Keeper’s Cranberry Lime Hot Sauce
  • Sticker Mule Mule Sauce
  • Sauce Up NYC Chili Crisp Hot Honey

Ethically Sourced, Upcycled Products — Brands continue to respond to consumer concern over the health of the environment, developing ethically sourced and produced, sustainable products, many made from upcycled ingredients. Examples:

  • Heray ethically sourced saffron
  • Renewal Mill’s Seven Sundays Upcycled Corn Flour Cereal, made with an Upcycled Certified white corn flour, a byproduct of the cornmeal milling process.
  • The Spare Food Co. Spare Tonic Sparkling Probiotic Elixirs

Alt Seafood — Seafood alternatives in the form of more sustainable options continue to gain momentum. “Krill, often a food waste and discarded by industrial fisheries, is now packaged ready to serve,” notes Shelke. Examples:

  • Atlantic Sea Farms Sea-Chi (seaweed kimchi)
  • CAVIARUM Caviar Alternatives
  • Krill Arctic Foods Antarctic Krill Meat

Broader Plant Based — Expanded ingredients, forms, and categories of plant-based options continue to grow. “Plant-based cheeses to date have largely been tackling the spreadable, the slice, those intended for cooking and meal preparation,” says Schildt. “[Now it] targets the cheese snack.” Examples:

  • Armored Fresh Almond Milk Cheese in cubes
  • EatsBeauty Collagen-infused fruit drinks
  • Haitgolou Family Foods Chickpea Butter
  • Prime Roots Koji-Deli Meats
  • Solspring Specialty Pasta Biodynamic Spirulina Tagliatelle

Also on the radar . . .

  • In addition to trending as naturally occurring sweeteners in a variety of categories, honey and dates are trending on their own. Honey — hot, premium, flavored, manuka — filled the aisles and dates are emerging not only as an ingredient, but as an energy-packed snack.
  • Peach, either as a flavor, paired with other ingredients, or as a pickled fruit, is emerging.
  • Calabrian peppers may be poised as the next Gochujang or Sriracha. They appeared in hot sauce, spreads, honey, caponata, charcuterie, and more.