In case you missed last week’s Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, here are some of the hot new food trends we spotted.
1. Updated Comfort Foods.
The slow economy has everyone rediscovering the joys of cooking at home and remembering their favorite comfort foods. However, after two years, consumers want more ease and convenience while adding spice to their basics. Noteworthy Mentions: Gourmet versions of classic favorites like Mac & Cheese from The Comfort Gourmet. Slow Cooker Gourmet dinner kits from Purely American Foods and an expansive line of liquid sauces from Frontera Grill like Taco or Fajita Skillet Sauce that give cooks a new way to experience “restaurant” quality food at home.
2. Mindful Snacking.
Everyone is trying to get healthy by adding more veggies to their diet and choosing healthier snacks. Vegetable products that actually taste good are the holy grail, so several companies now have vegetable snacking options to get in that extra serving. Jensen’s Organic has a spinach and artichoke chip that is green. Snikidy makes a variety of vegetable chips. Natural Nectar makes rice and vegetable chips. Finally, there were a variety of new products at the show where sweet potatoes were replacing traditional potatoes or wheat as an ingredient. Examples include: Sweet Potato crackers from the Polka Dot Bake Shop and Sweet Potato chips from Food Should Taste Good Company.
Just like wine and cheese, many companies are creating “varietals” in otherwise stagnant categories to create subtle differences that increase interest and command super-premium pricing. California Olive Ranch has olive oil varietals based on the type of olive tree or the location where the olives are grown, such as Arbequina, Arbosana and Oroville Ranch. Kakao Berlin has a new line of chocolate varietals based on the production location in Europe. Saltworks even has a line of sea salt varietals, based on what part of the ocean the salt came from.
4. Epicurean Foam.
Decorative and flavorful foam has been a growing trend in restaurants – now you can do it yourself at home with an aerosol spray can. FOMZ, a new line from FOMZ, LLC, is made from 100% juice – yet it foams up like whipped cream when sprayed from its can. Available in Lemon-Lime, Pineapple Papaya, Passionfruit Mango and several other delectable flavors. The Blosm Company of Denver is making flavored whipped cream in stylish new cans and flavors, such as Blackberry Amaretto and Cinnamon Praline.
5. Revitalizing Ancient Grains.
Move over potatoes and rice, here come the ancient grains. Quinoa, amaranth, millet, chia and flax are ancient grains that are appearing as mainstream side dishes and ingredients. New product forms from frozen ready-to-heat and eat options as well as convenient instant options are making it easy for consumers to love these new nutritious and gluten-free grains. Most Noteworthy: Smokey Bacon Quinoa from Urban Grain Co., Frozen Village Harvest Whole Grain Medley, and Origen Quinoa Puffs from a Santiago, Chile company.
6. Buzz in Water.
Every year there is a new beverage that multiple companies jump on. Last year the beverage of the year was Aloe and coconut water; this year it is plain old water with caffeine added. Simple and sensible. So simple, we can’t believe someone didn’t think of this earlier. Need a quick pick me up without added calories? Check out Element Caffeinated Water, Water Joe or Shock H2O.
7. Popcorn is Poppin’.
Healthier snacking has been a trend for some years now. Popcorn is gaining steam in a big way and is becoming more upscale. This year’s show featured over a dozen premium popcorns with exciting new flavors. Most noteworthy: Cobra Corn, Indian-flavored popcorn, and 479 Degrees, available in ultra gourmet flavors, such as Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt, Black Truffle with White Cheddar and Vietnamese Cinnamon Sugar. Want to create your own flavored popcorn at home…no problem with Kernel Season 3.75 oz shakers of season salt with favorites like Butter and Ranch but also indulgent flavors like Parmesan & Garlic, Cajun and Chocolate Marshmallow.
8. DIY/Homegrown Foods.
DIY/Grow-it-yourself gourmet foods is a growing trend, from fresh herbs to tomatoes to butter.. Now you can even grow fresh mushrooms yourself, with the Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit. For $19.95, just add water to the cardboard box, place on a window sill, and in just 10 days, have a box brimming with 1 ½ lbs. of fresh mushrooms for cooking. Another company, Roaring Brook Dairy provides wanna-be artisan foodies a kit to make their own mozzarella cheese and homemade butter from the convenience of their urban kitchens.
9. Gourmet Gluten Free
Gluten-free usually means sacrificing taste and texture, and while this trend continues to grow, so does the demand for higher quality, great tasting and gourmet gluten-free new products. Favorites at the show included Edamame hummus made from beans and lentils from Eat Well Enjoy Life to the famous French Laundry chef, Thomas Keller’s C4C gluten-free multi-purpose flour mix which has gained raves by even The San Francisco Chronicle food critics.
10. Quick Response Codes.
Usage of these technical-looking squares on packaging has been slow for food companies, but look for them to become more than just random marketing tools in the future. Readable by cell phones, these may be the way for food companies to really talk about promotions and help consumers get closer to their company’s purpose, products and personality. First adopters: Wines because they can offer an understanding of varietals, food pairings and even videos about the winemakers.
Brought to you by Kim Lopez-Walters
Food innovation expert Kim Lopez-Walters recently joined GameChanger as a full-time director. Kim’s background includes marketing and innovation leadership positions for Starbucks (introduced some of the first Frappucino coffee drinks), PowerBar and ClifBar. She has also been a marketer for Nestle, Quaker and Pepsi-Cola and was an innovation trends strategist for Iconoculture.
Last week Kim attendeed the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and shared her trend observations seen in this newsletter.