5 trends from Summer Fancy Food: From veggie-enhanced non-dairy cheese to convenient baking solutions to keto-friendly snacks and booze-fueled treats

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: E. Crawford
Source: E. Crawford

Related tags Fancy Food Show non-alcoholic plant-based cheese Baking keto

Invigorating sleepy segments, tackling persistent category challenges and balancing consumer desire for taste, convenience and experience, companies at the 66th Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City late last month showcased innovative solutions to age-old challenges and shined a light on what is fueling the fast growth of the $175b speciality food industry.

Emerging from the more than 1,700 exhibitors were several trends that offer unexpected solutions to long-standing pain points ranging from plant-based cheese that doesn’t melt, stretch or taste as flavorful as its animal counterparts to time-saving solutions to keep the baking trend from the pandemic alive.

Check out five trends that emerged at the show and the companies that are raising the standard, while lowering the strain for consumers.

Booze beyond the bottle

1 Booze beyond the bottle

Alcohol is no longer restricted to coups and shot glasses – at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York traditional spirits added deep aromas or a surprising shot of flavor to products ranging from Anthon Berg chocolates shaped like cocktail bottles and filled with real liquor to bourbon-infused coffees from Don Pablo and World of Coffee to Enjoy Rogue’s Espresso Martini Marmalade and Dark & Stormy Marmalade. Confection company Bixby & Co. even infused sweet and buttery peanut brittle with Allagash White wheat beer.

Nondairy cheese 2.0

2 vegan cheese

Hoping to get a slice of the fast growing non-dairy cheese segment, which Grand View Research​ estimated was worth $2.43b globally in 2021 and projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.6% through 2030, companies continue to innovate with new base ingredients, flavor profiles and processing techniques.

At the Summer Fancy Food Show, RIND by Dina & Joshua won a sofi new product award for its Carrot Cheese Slices that are made with real carrots and promise to melt with a ‘luscious texture’ when heated. It also won a sofi Gold Award for its Lapsang Mini Wheel, which is cave-aged and uses Lapsang Souchong tea leaves to infuse its vegan camembert and blue cheese.

UK-based Somerdale​ also showcased its Ilchester brand vegan melting mature slices and told FoodNavigator-USA that plant-based isn’t a threat to dairy, but rather an additional opportunity to serve another consumer set.

Can quick scratch save baking?

3 quick scratch

Home baking grew “tremendously” ​during the pandemic as consumers sought entertainment, but as the world reopens and demands on time increase, convenience becomes key for keeping this trend alive, David Lockwood, consumer market research and strategy consultant said at the Summer Fancy Food Show. He explained that while home baking is here to stay “it didn’t grow anywhere near as much this past year as I expected it to – why? Because it bumped up against convenience.”

To bridge the desire for baking and demand for convenience, Sweet Logic introduced at the show a line of single serve mug cake mixes, Happy Grub packaged pancake mix in squeeze bottles for a mess-free breakfast, Lus Oasis showcased sweet and savory plant-based waffle mix, Freedom Foods won a Sofi for its new Hillside Lane Farm brand Chocolate Brownie Pie Crusts as did Baked By Susan for its Bake This Yourself Fruit Pie Kit.

Keto 4ever

4 keto4ever

While the keto diet remains a go-to for quick weight loss, it is far from easy to follow – creating an opportunity for packaged foods that balance the diet’s strict macro-nutrient requirements with convenience and taste.

Zing showcased a wide range of plant-based bars that are formulated to match the low-carb, high-protein requirements of the keto diet, Nature’s Garden offered a range of keto snack mixes that blend nuts, coconut and select dried fruit as part of a broader range of snack mixes with functional benefits, and Sander’s Small Batch Wonders introduced a no sugar added dark chocolate covered sea-salt caramel along with several savory snack mixes calling out keto on pack. Whipnotic showcased a line of ready-to-eat whipped cream that the founders said are a perfect low-cal, keto-compliant treat. And crunchy cheese snack maker Whisps positioned its dehydrated cheese as diet-friendly.

Beverages beyond basics

5 beverages

Whether consumers want more (such as health benefits) or less (like undesirable side effects) from their beverages, entrepreneurs at the Summer Fancy Food Show have something for everyone. For example, the founder of Fig Brew, sampled a robust, earthy-tasting beverage brewed from roasted, ground figs, that was created because the high acid and caffeine content in coffee can cause stomach issues and over-stimulation. Swapping figs for coffee also delivers added benefits, such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that aren’t present in coffee.

Likewise, Hidden Gems Beverage Co.​, sampled a beverage made from upcycled avocado seeds that promises to be better for the planet and people by reducing waste and boosting digestion, immunity and heart health from a dose of prebiotics and antioxidants.  Available in on-trend flavor combinations, including grapefruit lavender, mango ginger and rose mint, the beverages also balance a desire for something sweet but without added sugar and only 25 calories per serving.

Lattina also enters the fast-growing and increasingly crowded plant-based beverage with its own twist on the category. Skipping popular bases like oats and almonds, Lattini uses sunflower seeds to create an allergen-friendly option.

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