The Specialty Food Association (SFA) Trendspotter Panel has identified 10 themes from its recently held Fancy Food Show in Las Vegas that could influence the merchandising decisions of home décor retailers who offer gourmet food in their stores.
“Products that make home cooking more convenient and restaurant-quality are in demand, whether meal starter kits, distinctive salts or butters, condiments from around the world or foods from different global regions available as frozen entrees,” said Denise Purcell, SFA’s vice president of resource development. “Sustainability and health in balance are top trend themes, too, with foods and beverages that use upcycled or regeneratively grown ingredients, as well as better-for-you indulgences from tempeh, water lily seed, or bean snacks to alcohol-free cocktails.”
The full list of trends spotted include:
Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Culture
Alcohol-free beverages are dominating in the ongoing cocktail trend, giving consumers sophisticated, well-crafted and flavorful options in elegant packaging, equal to their traditional counterparts. Women- and diverse-owned companies are taking the lead in innovation in several products, panelists said. Examples include Abstinence Spirits’ alcohol-free botanical spirits and aperitifs and Three Spirits’ non-alcoholic wine and spirits.
Fermented for Function
As consumers gain understanding of the importance of digestive health to overall well-being, fermentation in new uses is creating healthful value-adds to foods and beverages.
“The trend extends to pickles, beverages made with koji, sauces and adaptogentic plants,” said one trendspotter. Examples include beverages like Gutsy Kombucha’s Adapt2 with fermented adaptogenic herbs and Hicifuku Brewing’s organic white soy sauce.
Honey Is Hot
The honey market is heating up – literally and figuratively. Honeys now come with adaptogen infusions (adaptogens are natural substances thought to help the body relieve stress), specialty flavors, hot flavor profiles showcasing different spices and even forest-grown varieties with options including things like Runamok Honey’s Szechuan peppercorn-infused hot honey and King Island’s Pure Manuka Honey.
New Packaging Form and Utility
Flavor is not the only thing important to consumers. Innovative packaging that addresses portability and convenience, as well as creative ways to consume traditional products, is leading innovation from meal cups to tea discs to freeze drying products like candy and salsa. Freeze Nums’ freeze dried candy, Mr. Kipling’s individually sealed cake slices for portion control and Salsa Queen’s freeze dried salsa are just a few of the options available.
Starters, Bases, Kits and Shortcuts for Convenience
Convenience in at-home cooking is a top 2023 trend, according to the panel, as consumers have ambitions to keep up their pandemic-era home cooking but lack the time they may have had during lockdown. The Winter Fancy Food Show brought several meal starters, sauce starters, frozen meals and other shortcuts to the forefront from brands like Meat Shredz, Rill Foods, Two Fish and Chilau.
Pantry Without Borders
Trendspotters saw a crop of condiments, sauces, oils and seasonings made to help people enjoy global and regional tastes at home as a top trend for 2023. That held firm at the winter show where the trend also extended to snacks, cookies, beverages and other grocery staples. Global goodies include KTM Services’ Hawaiian taro cookies and Three Amigos’ elote Mexican street corn snack mix.
Sustainable, Upcycled, or Regeneratively Grown Ingredients
Environment health continues to be a top consumer concern, opening the door for more products that are responsibly grown or produced, ethically sourced, use upcycled ingredients or contain sustainable packaging. Products range from plant-based sushi to a new spirit made from upcycled whey. Examples include 40 Below’s fruity whey, Avocado Tea Co.’s avocado leaf tea and Konscious Foods’ plant-based sushi.
High-Quality Meal Prep
Exhibitors at the Winter Show showcased several products to help home cooks. Products offering restaurant-quality ingredients and high-end flavors for home cooks were spotted throughout market and ran the gamut from cold-pressed almond oil from Sunnygem to smoked and sea urchin butters from Marin Food.
Health in Balance
While the past few years, especially, have put Health and immune system boosting foods are top of mind of mind after the last few years, but consumers still want to indulge. Better-for-you snacks and treats like Wonder Monday low carb, low sugar, high protein cheesecake and Hero Bread low carb and zero carb breads and baked goods continue to dominate.
Beneficial Beans (and Lentils)
From crisps to snacks to seasoned varieties to new to-go packages and pouches, beans such as black, pinto, and fava, as well as lentils, dominated at the Winter Show as protein alternatives and better-for-you chip options. Some products such as South African Chakalaka are “diverse owned and new ideas on the market,” said Trendspotter Jonathan Deutsch. Other examples include BeanVIVO’s organic seasoned beans in pouches, dips, and snack packs and Chakalaka Brands Chakalaka, a bean-based traditional South African dish.
The SFA’s Winter Fancy Food Show Trendspotter Panel included Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo, food and sustainability consultant; Nicole Brisson, executive chef of Brezza and Bar Zazu; Jonathan Deutsch, professor and director of the Drexel Food Lab; Kantha Shelke, principal of Corvus Blue LLC; Kimberly Lord Stewart, food and health content specialist; and V. Sheree Williams, founder of The Global Food & Drink Initiative and editor and publisher of Cuisine Noir.