This episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup-To-Nuts podcast explores five of the overarching trends that stood out for their versatility, longevity and market potential.
Coffee’s evolution from a predictable morning standard to a high-end beverage and ingredient valued for its flavor, function and sustainability
One of the most innovative uses of coffee was by Seattle Chocolate Company, which uses coffee flour – the dried and milled fruit of the coffee berry – as key ingredient in two of its bars.
The ingredient, made by CoffeeFlour “turns out to be extremely nutritious,” with high levels of iron, protein, potassium and fiber, which “gives everything it is added to a really nice nutritional boost,” according to Ayla Janukajtis, a marketing manager for Seattle Chocolates.
She suggests that coffee is gaining traction because consumers are starting to understand the more nuanced complexities of the ingredient, and predicts it could follow a similar trajectory as fine wine.
Cold brew coffee and butter coffee also cropped up several times including in products from Brewla, Califia Farms and Coffee Blocks. These companies touted their twists on the beverage as better tasting and healthier than traditional coffee.
Pumpkin moves beyond simply spice to offer nutritional punch
Walking through the Summer Fancy Food trade show floor also revealed that America’s love affair with pumpkin spice is still going strong, but it also is evolving beyond just sweet products to include spicy and savory options across categories. Companies also are starting to use pumpkin seeds and pumpkin flesh more – so not just the spice blend.
On the savory side, Renfro Foods launched a Pumpkin Salsa that recalls holiday flavors and Urban Accents launched a line of simmer sauces that use pumpkin puree as a nutritional canvass for global flavors.
Just as more companies are starting to use the flesh of pumpkins in their products, so too are companies embracing the vegetable’s seed as a nutrient dense, allergy-friendly and economic alternative to nuts.
Hannah Barnstable, who founded Seven Sundays which uses pumpkin seeds in several of its breakfast products, suggests that pumpkin seeds are gaining consumer attention because they pack a protein and nutritional punch at a fraction of the price of nuts.
New formats give quinoa sticking power
Another theme that emerged was that quinoa continues to reign as a superfood superstar and it is no longer restricted to salads and side dishes. Instead, it popped up in smoothie mixes, baked snacks, burgers, pasta, chocolates – so many foods and beverages.
One of the many companies launching products with quinoa at the show was Amrita, which introduced Dark Chocolate Quinoa nutrition bars, which are seed-based, raw and vegan.
A company representative explained that quinoa is showing up in more foods because it is becoming available in more formats, such as flour or puffed. Plus, he said, companies are embracing it because, like pumpkin seeds, it doesn’t have many allergens and offers a lot of nutritional benefits.
Quinoa also appeals to manufacturers because it has cache with consumers – the name alone is enough to prompt a purchase, he added.
Another ingredient that kept popping up at Summer Fancy Food Show was whiskey and bourbon – and not just in glasses. It frequently was featured in products ranging from sweets to snacks to savory sides and syrups.
One booth that drew a lot of attention from passersby was Najla’s Specialty Foods, which was debuting its Kentucky Bourbon Pie filling.
Company founder Najla Aswad explained: “The Bourbon industry has just exploded,” as chefs and consumers discover how the smoky flavor can elevate products and complement meats and baked goods alike.
Proving Aswad’s point about whiskey’s versatility, the ingredient also cropped up in Cleveland Kraut’s Whiskey Dill Sauerkraut. The Midwestern company describes the product as a “spirited sauerkraut with a bite,” and it certainly attracted a lot of attention at the show.
Fermented foods and beets capture consumers hearts
Cleveland Kraut also tapped into two other major trends spotted at the show: fermented foods and beets.
“We are seeing the market for fermented foods, in general, rising as people are becoming aware there are big health benefits,” Luke Visnic with Cleveland Kraut said. He added this is especially true of beets.
“The beets have been blowing up: beet chips, beet hummus, we have a red cabbage sauerkraut w beets and carrots that is a dynamite flavor and color, a pop of color on your salad right, we have a fermented version of that. So we are hitting a lot of little check boxes,” he said.