The Specialty Food Assocation’s Fancy Food Show in New York is always a source of inspiration — and perhaps now more than ever after two years of pandemic disruptions. Read on to get our take on the market’s most important macrodynamics (plant-based, we’re looking at you), plus niche trend-setters that captured our attention and just might be poised to explode.
In plant-based meat, the compromise is over.
As consumers grow ever more preoccupied with their own health and the health of the planet, plant-based alternatives to traditional animal foods continue their march to the mainstream. The latest offerings blur category lines, positioning plant-based proteins not just as “acceptable alternatives,” but as fit-for-foodies standouts in their own right.
Show highlights included meatless mixes from Urban Accents, offering the promise of specialty flavors from Korean Barbecue to Street Taco. In another signal that animal-free is on the rise, Current Foods is making waves with sushi-grade “seafood” made from algae and vegetables.
In sweet treats, super-premium meets grab-and-go.
In 2022, foodies are once again going places — and bringing their taste for super premium treats with them. Sweet indulgences packaged for grab-and-go bring gourmet restaurant-style tastes and textures within reach, no matter when or where the craving strikes.
We challenge any sweet tooth to resist Bontà Divina’s individually packaged tiramisu in sleek-but-sturdy reusable glass mugs. In a simpler but no less extravagant offering, Le Waf serves gourmet European-style waffles made from a unique batter infused with pearl sugar, conveniently packed to slip into a purse or lunch box.
In premium beverages, no niche is too small.
Is there any end to brand proliferation in speciality waters, tonics, infusions and the like? This year’s crop of nearly 100 Fancy Food Show exhibitors in Juices and Waters suggests the category is going strong. As general health and sustainability claims drop to the level of table stakes, the most newsworthy brands are making a splash with specific, memorable and even quirky reasons to believe.
Intriguing niche entries included refreshingly nerdy Spare Tonic probiotic beverages made from upcycled whey and Deep Love ultra-premium lemonades infused with exotic flower petals from around the world. In the licensing realm, Jelly Belly Sparkling Waters make a smart play to carry the brand’s wholesome persona and unrivaled flavor equity into a fizzy new frontier.
Chocolate’s throwing a (garden) party.
Much like juices and waters, chocolate confectionery is a category overrun with niche artisan brands, each one more visually and sensorially tempting than the last. While combining chocolate with fruit and spice flavors has been trending for several years, the latest inventions push even further into the plant kingdom with unexpected vegetable, floral and herbal notes.
Cases in point: the Madhu Vanilla Fennel and Dark Rose bars, and a Rosemary Caramel bar from Wildwood.
Let them eat whimsy.
In a world that often seems dark, the appeal of joyful, playful, whimsical food is a no-brainer. Brands are taking notice with clever innovations that elevate and celebrate childhood (or the inner child in all of us). Three brands in particular caught our eye with imaginative offerings of pure, uncomplicated delight.
Noshi Food Paint turns sauces and condiments into squeezable paint, inviting kids to get creative at mealtime. Let Them Eat Candles layers extra enchantment on party cakes with real chocolate candles. (Yes they actually light, no they don’t melt and yes, you can eat them.) And finally, Runamok sparkle syrup proves that it is indeed possible to make pancakes even more special than they already are.
Big names = big news.
The Fancy Foods Show is, almost by definition, a welcoming home for new and niche independent brands. Yet even in this bastion of originality, mass licensing partnerships had a huge presence, proving large mainstream brands recognize the vast potential of specialty markets.
Jack Daniels coffee beans and Guinness Chocolate Stout Cake top our list of licensing matches made in heaven. Also notable was Jelly Belly’s expansion of the Harry Potter line to include several new flavors.
At Wilks Communications Group, our team of strategists and creators is busy following — and shaping — emerging trends and opportunities throughout the food and beverage sector. If you’d like to learn more about how our perspective and capabilities might support your success, please get in touch. We’d love to get the conversation started.