Soup-to-Nuts Podcast: From the blue to elevate butter, 5 trends to watch from the Fancy Food Show

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

One of the best places to spot emerging trends is at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City where earlier this month more than 2,400 manufacturers and suppliers showcased more than 180,000 products ranging from innovative sweets, better-for-you snacks and new twists on pantry staples.

At this year’s show there were early signals that blue could be the new black and that beets and cauliflower are rivaling to become the next kale. On the spice front, cardamom could be a dark horse to become the next go-to spice while dates are rising up as a sweet treat of choice. At the same time, the popularity of mushrooms and better butter continued to gain momentum at the show.

In this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup-To-Nuts podcast, we take a closer look at some of these trends and how different players are tapping into their potential.

Everybody has the blues

While it may still be too soon to tell for sure if blue is next novel color everyone wants, it certainly helped several products pop on the show floor, including Milkboy Swiss Chocolates, Wild Hibiscus Flower Co. and Remedy Organics.

Susann Rivera from Milkboy Swiss Chocolates explains that adding blue potato chips to its white chocolate created a “unicorn”​ product that not only delights consumers visually but also surprises their tastebuds.

Wild Hibiscus Flower Co also debuted brilliant blue products, including thinly sliced lotus roots preserved in Butterfly Pea & Elderflower Syrup and b’Lure Blue Matcha Tea Powder, which a company spokesman said has a “touch of magic.”

He explained that the tea is naturally blue from the Butterfly Pea flours, and while eye-catching on its own, the real brilliance happens when an acid is added and the beverage goes from deep blue to bright purple and almost pink. He noted this provides layers of fun for cocktails and can even be added to baked goods and other foods for a punch of color.

But there is more to blue than just an eye-catching color, though. Depending on the source, blue ingredients can pack a powerful nutritional punch, as in the case of blue spirulina, which Remedy Organics includes in its recently launched Blue Oxidants plant-based functional beverage along with almond milk, MCT oil, maca and probiotics.

Company co-founder Cindy Kasindorf, who also is a nutritional health counselor, explained why it is important to eat the rainbow and her co-founder Henry Kasindorf also chimed in on what makes blue spirulina particularly good for you.

Veggies take center stage

At the Summer Fancy Food Show, vegetables continued to steal the limelight with beets and cauliflower in particular jostling for prime positioning.

The startup Caulipower, which debuted last year with a heat-and-eat cauliflower crust, is taking the vegetable in new directions with the launch of a new paleo cauliflower crust and a cauliflower-based baking mix that CEO Gail Becker says consumers can use to make a wide variety of better-for-you foods from soft pretzels to brownies.

Another company showing off the versatility of cauliflower is Kitchen & Love, which uses the vegetable as the base for its Cauliflower Quick Meals. The meals are designed to be enjoyed on the go with minimal prep. All consumers need to do is add a small container of pre-blended spices to a cup of shelf-stable riced cauliflower, stir with a provided spork and enjoy.

Another company using not only cauliflower, but also beets and other veggies in an innovative way is Gleen. The company co-founder Will Kornegay explained that Gleen’s mission is to reduce food waste by gleening ugly vegetables the farmers often leave in their fields because they don’t have a market and use them to make single ingredient flours.

Mushrooms enter the snacking category as a jerky

Mushrooms were another standout ingredient at the show with several companies featuring them as a plant-based alternative to meat jerky, which continues to dominate the snack space.

One of those companies is Giorgio Foods, which actually is a grower but that the senior vice president of sales and marketing Brian Loiseau noted is expanding into CPGs.

He noted the company launched at the show three flavors of mushroom jerky, including roasted garlic black pepper, sesame ginger and Korean chili and sweet balsamic and golden fig – all of which place whole foods front and center.

The company also has a line of mushroom based sauces or dips called Blendabella that are somewhere between a tapenade, bruschetta and salsa. They come in three flavors: Mexican, Tuscan and Coconut Thai.

Elevated butters move to the center stage

Another big trend at the show was butter. And while butter has been back for awhile now, the companies showcasing it at Fancy Food were not showing off plain old butter. Rather it was flavored or higher fat or clarified.  

One company in this space was Epicurean Butter, which blends herbs and spices with its butter for added flavor, and it offers them in a single-serve squeeze pouch for added convenience.

The company founder Janey Hubschman explained how Epicurean Butter is butter with a purpose that retailers can display across the store either next to expensive cuts of meets, with value-added chopped vegetable, in the bakery for take and bake garlic bread or in more elaborate meal kits.

Also at the show were several companies selling clarified butter, or ghee, and one company was even selling a high fat butter.

Bark offers a blank slate for innovation

On the sweeter side of things, several companies at Fancy Food were showcasing bark, which has emerged as a convenient snacking platform and also a blank slate for creative toppings.

For example, Chuao Chocolatier launched a line of Moon Barks that come in three celestial-inspired flavors, including Chia Berry Dreamer, Coconut Almond Radiance and Quinoa Berry Skies.

Maria Amor, a spokeswoman for Chuao Chocolatier, explains what makes bark so attractive to consumers in part is that it appeals to a broader range of people for a wider range of uses. No longer is chocolate pigeon holed as a guilty pleasure or decadent gift for women. Rather, adventurers can now snack on it as a source of energy or a shareable experience with friends under the stars.

Also on the sweet side, several companies were calling out cardamom as a warming and exotic flavor and others were incorporating dates as an ingredient – or stand alone food – that makes for a better-for-you dessert or alternative to a sweet snack. However, these two trends aren’t quiet as far along on the adoption trend – meaning there is still plenty of room for growth.

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