Every summer, more than 25,000 food industry insiders decamp to the Javits Center in New York where tastemakers troll aisles and aisles of specialty food delectables. From savory to sweet to the newest umami flavor profile, they're combing through more than 180,000 products at the Specialty Food Association's Fancy Food Show to find the next big thing in food trends. Here, we lay them all out for you.
Move over Heinz, French's and Hellman's, the cool kids on the block feature sophisicated additions such as super-spicy peppers, exotic ingredients (like black garlic and truffles) and fresh herbs. Foods on trend: Empire Mayonnaise's black garlic mayonnaise, Fine Vine's black truffle ketchup, and Green Mountain's garlic and oregano mustard.
It's not just pickles in brine anymore. Aspargus, carrots, green beans and okra are getting pickled with hand-crafting and small batches key to this trend, along with creative takes on traditional cucumber pickles. Foods on trend: Rick's Picks' smoked okra, Brooklyn Brine's chipotle carrots and whiskey sour pickles.
If there is any concern about the gluten-free trend waning, look no further than this show for contrary evidence. The good news several years into the skyrocketing trend is a renewed focus on creativity and improved taste. Foods on trend: Quinn Popcorn's Kale and Sea Salt gluten free, Lady Fortune's gluten-free fortune cookies, and Bee Nut Free snacks, also "Big 8" allergen-free.
The red-dye replacement food also scores high on the health-consciousness scale, making it a natural for veggie on the rise. Foods on trend: Blue Hill beet yogurt, Wildly Delicious' beet-and-onion marmalade, beet sauerkraut, pickled beets and beet-infused drinks.
One part umami trend and another part Korean food-truck craze, the same flavors used to sell savory bahn mis and barbeques, such as sesame, soy, garlic and spicy peppers are popping up on the food scene. Foods on trend: We Rub You's Korean sauces, Pop! Gourmet and Huy Fong's Sriracha popcorn, and Mother in Law's kimchi and fermented chili pastes.
It's water...no it's not
Besides pumping up the nutrition in plain ol' water such as Neo's Superwater, the show featured many low-sugar water drinks and "almost waters" with unusual flavors and combinations. Foods on trend: Blossom Water's flower-infused waters, Ayala's herb-infused waters and an ever expanding array of coconut waters.
As a flavor beer is in -- and you don't just have to drink it anymore. Foods on trend: Jelly Belly beer jelly beans, Big Russ' beer-cheese spreads, Beer Flats' crackers and Vosges' smoke-and-stout chocolate bar.
Yes, you read that right. The reported health benefits of vinegar are spurring a trend of drinkable vinegars. Some versions are straight up with a more bitter edge, while others have sugar added (sometimes called shrubs) to help make the vinegar go down. Foods on trend: Wozz' Finishing Vinegars including Spiced Beet and Cranberry Saffron (there's the beet again), O's Orange Blossom Champagne Vinegar and Pok Pok Som's Drinking Vinegars.
No longer a tough bit of leather gnawed on by cowboys, jerky is becoming healthier (getting rid of nitrates and MSG, for example) and becoming more upscale with flavors like turkey, chicken, tuna and salmon. Foods on trend: Perky Jerky's teriyaki turkey jerky, Krave's black cherry barbeque pork jerky and Slantshack's Bronx Brewery Pale Ale grass-fed beef jerky (yes, more beer).
Smoked barbeque meats and even smoked cheeses are common consumer favorites, but leave it to the gourmands to add smoke in sweet treats like chocolate chips and desserts. Foods on trend: Hot Cakes' smoked chocolate chips, Sticky Toffee Pudding's shortbread with smoked sea salt, and Bourbon Barrel Food's smoked sugar.