Friday, January 22, 2010

Fancy Food Show San Francisco --The Trends

The Winter Fancy Food Show ended last Tuesday at 4pm. It was a particularly interesting show especially for those who usually attend the show in New York, the West Coast sibling was far more focused on the North American market foods. There was of course representation of a number of countries as Italy, Australia, Canada, Germany and a few others with smaller stands. In this topic, I will stay on the food trends as presented by NASFT and as identified by me walking the endless rows of the show for three days!

NASFT says that the top five trends are:

1. Good-for-you foods
2. Coconut
3. Gluten-free
4. Exotic citrus
5. Nostalgic foods

I strongly agree with the Gluten-free foods as a current, well-established trend in the food industry. Rosemary and sea salt crisp bread from Australia, American gluten free cookies, crackers, mixes and granola, everybody seems to agree that gluten is not in fashion. Discussions on the floor indicated that quite a few are more aware of the celiac disease, therefore, another reason to be gluten free. But if this is one healthy-focused trend to establish, food producers and food makers should also work on the following: improve the taste of the non-gluten products because they do not taste that great. There is a room for improvement taste-wise and I am sure and hope to taste better products in the summer Fancy Food Show in June.

I also saw the citrus trend, not only for jams and marmalades (with the newly introduced, $25 a jar, Yuzu marmalade in Dean and Deluca) but also the citrus flavor in BBQ sauces, dressings and even juices. Undoubtedly, I see a Japanese influence in this one, and I will be a fan.

I didn't see or taste too much coconut with the exception of some coconut-flavored drinks and coconut macaroons, so this is not a trend to me. The feel-good factor items could also be a trend as consumers can now find the 100-calorie packs, smaller or mini portions (Get movin' snack series and Grab and Go shortbreads from Walkers are two of those) and very often are organic and natural. When it comes to nostalgia, I wouldn’t pick it up myself but as a non-native American, I am not entirely familiar with what nostalgic foods could be.

My picks:

Flavored snacks - popcorn and nuts

Popcorn: all know the caramel, cheese or chocolate flavored popcorn. Now we can find popcorn with paprika, truffle and even cinnamon flavors. Dylan Candy store had introduced the peppermint crunchy popcorn a while ago and the gingerbread only for the holiday season. The 479 popcorn company introduced the black truffle and white cheddar flavor but also the coconut curry and cashew as part of its International popcorn collection during the Fancy Food Show. The unique black truffled popcorn, courtesy of the Susan Rice products, tastes yummi. And the grilled peach popcorn, created only for research purposes by the Center for Culinary Development was interesting!

Nuts is my favorite comfort food and I am really glad to discover not only spicy flavors but also very unique ones as the Beach Nuts, a product range of various nuts seasoned with their signature Chesapeake Bay Seasoning and Barnacles. I was stunned by the Merlot, Margarita Mix, Chardonnay and Fire Dancer JalapeƱo flavored nuts by the Buy Bone Suckin company. Unfortunately those products are not yet sold in large stores, rather in small, gourmet shops and online only.

New type of anti-energy drinks
What can I say about the Slow Cow, the new anti-energy drink that promises relaxation and comes with an "acupuncture session"? Soon to be available in the US market, this new drink originates in Canada and contains L-Theanine which increases the levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), that produces a feeling of relaxation and creates a state of well-being. The Ex Drinks company introduced also the Ex Chill as America's 1st natural relaxer drink. The drink has relaxing extracts like Chamomile, Valerian, Lemon Balm and a shot of Vitamins (B3, B5, B6 & B12), so it's perfect to sit back and chill out!

Indian cuisine sauces and drinks
Having lived in England for nearly nine years, I am a great lover of Indian food. Despite my efforts and the exception of Jackson Heights area, I can't find good Indian food elsewhere in NYC. The new sauces, not yet in the US market, may well change the perception of Indian flavors in the North American market. Indian cuisine is not really much of a trend in this country but maybe things are changing. Roland Foods introduced the Bombay Authentics during the show, a line of curry sauces, pastes and chutneys that have all the robust flavors of Indian cuisine. Stonehouse27 also came up with unique Indian cooking sauces inspired by Portuguese and British Indian cuisine. I also discoved the mango lassi drink, an amazing addition to the Indian soon to come in the US trend...

Those are my first top trends from the Fancy Food Show. I will continue tomorrow with more trends, new products soon to launch in the US market and more!