A convention dedicated to celebrating the latest and most innovative culinary products from all over the world, with over 2,500 vendors and seemingly endless samples? Count us in!
The Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan was packed with 22,000 hungry attendees this past week for the Fancy Food Show. The event showcased artisan food start-ups and their latest product offerings, allowing grocery buyers to peruse, sample and spot future trends. Vendors were displaying everything from classic gourmet products (with a twist, of course) like olive oil, cheese and caviar, to more unusual and innovative products like goat milk chai caramels and beet yogurt.
After properly indulging on the samples – because, priorities – we chatted with fellow foodies and professional food trend-ers, to come up with a comprehensive recap of the up-and-coming culinary trends for 2015/2016.
Unsurprisingly, responsible eating was the force behind most of the new snacks, with companies really promoting organic, gluten-free and vegan products.
In particular, what was most apparent with these products was consumers’ demand for simple, natural ingredients. Stripped of added sugars, artificial flavoring and chemicals, companies are now touting ingenuity in simplicity. Minimal, conventional ingredients combined in an unconventional way and prepared simply is what artisan food is about today. With increased education and access to food, people are more willing than ever to pay for purity and health when making food choices.
In terms of taste, we noticed a trend for hot and spicy. Heat from jalapenos and chilies were prevalent, as well as ethnic spices, particularly turmeric and curry. A Western twist to Indian flavors is definitely something to keep in mind looking forward.
Innovation was not just limited to taste. Portugal’s meia-duzia blew us away with their paint tube packaging for honey, jam and chocolate with fruits, which removes the middle-man-utensil and spares the mess. These products remind us how powerful a first impression can be.
Finally, as tea entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, we couldn’t sign off without sharing some of our favourite new tea commodities. Without further ado:
1. Tea-rrific! Is an ice cream brand that focuses on crafting premium, tea-infused ice cream using as much locally sourced and minimally processed ingredients. Their Chamomile Ice Cream was a finalist for the Sofi Awards, and trust us – for good reason! Delicious.
2. Republic of Tea is a Cali-based tea company, that launched a line of “Sonoma Teas”, showcasing innovative iced tea flavours, inspired by classic alcoholic beverages, using actual fine wine grape skins! Among the most popular, were the Chardonnay Iced Tea, Rosé Tea and Cabernet Tea.
3. Just Cook Foods launched their “Taco Night Blend”, a delicious all-natural rub, made from mole-inspired ingredients, including cocoa, nutmeg and cinnamon. This rub was such a success it was a finalist for the Flavor Enhancer Sofi Award.
We tip our hats to all the brands and vendors for their incredible display of creativity and good taste. Thanks for having us, Specialty Food Association!
For more information about this year’s Sofi Awards: