Trendspotting from the Fancy Food Show

Trendspotting from the Fancy Food Show

July 3, 2013

Allison Beadle, MS, RD, LD
Editor, RDBA Weekly

The Fancy Food Show is known being, well, pretty fancy.  This trade show, hosted by the Specialty Food Association, takes place twice a year (winter and summer) and features over 2,000 specialty food exhibitors. It is an excellent place to observe trends—both emerging and maturing—as its exhibitors include both small, entrepreneurial North American brands as well as a broad cross section of international brands.

The 2013 Fancy Food Show concluded yesterday, and while there were a number of trends to be spotted, here are a few of particular relevance to retail dietitians.

  • Clean Eating. I heard someone on the trade show floor hollering “all natural, gluten-free bloody mary’s!”—this was my signal that the clean eating trend has truly come of age. While there are plenty of “free from” claims that fall beneath the banner of “clean eating” (no GMO’s, gluten free, etc.), the concept of “clean eating” is much more far reaching. Think: clean techniques to minimize processing, clean ingredients lists, clean flavors, and clean packaging.
  • Coconut: Coconut water and coconut oil have certainly received a lot of attention over the past few years, but now we’re seeing an explosion of additional coconut ingredients and applications (coconut milk, coconut sugar, coconut powder, and coconut chips). These are finding their way into all sorts of baked goods, confections, and granolas.
  • Grains: This whole grain/ancient grain trend has been ramping up for quite some time, but it’s becoming much more mature with ancient grains showing up as ingredients in granolas, crackers, breads, and pastas. 
  • Veggies:  As with grains, vegetables are becoming very popular as ingredients, going beyond root vegetable chips to broccoli chips, sweet potato granola, and popsicles.
  • Taste & Health: It seems that manufacturers are really honing in on the dual need to deliver products that are at once delicious (read: a wonderful eating experience) and nutritious (read: a food consumers can feel good about).  So, no more twigs and berries, but truly flavorful foods that are also healthy. 

According to the Specialty Food Association, sales of specialty foods jumped 22.1% from 2010 to 2012, reaching $85 billion. And although many of these products find their first retail home in specialty food stores, this is a fast growing class of foods whose small, artisanal qualities resonate with many consumers. And it’s usually the smaller, more innovative and entrepreneurial manufacturers who initiate trends that eventually catapult into mainstream products. So it’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening.