San Francisco, CA—2013 food trends just don’t drop out from thin air; they burst triumphant from the Fancy Food show.
And at this winter’s extravaganza, convenience was at the top of everyone’s pitch. From Paper Chef (safe parchment paper bags or liners) to microwavable grains, to the once exclusively-canned fish that are now widely available in shiny, colorful sealed pouches, everything was about convenience.
And what about one of the most inconvenient of all coffees: espresso? Now you can get your instant barista on with a show of Pronto! coffee serum; add water and buzz happily.
The biggest news at the show, which featured over 80,000 products, were trends that remain on top. Gluten-free is ubiquitous sure. Bacon isn’t going away either, as it’s showing up in unusual places like popcorn, chocolate and ice cream.
You might think nuts are in the same, same old category, but this year they look new. At the top of the charts are pistachios and black walnuts. The former might have less fat, but the latter might pack more of a delicious punch. That old standby, catsup’s star is rising: from super spice to super premium, artisans are working wonders with the tomato, even if they call it a relish, as in Apron String Farm’s Tomato Smash.
Get ready for kombucha’s breakout year. There were so many chai brands and each one was better than the last. Another thing that is not going away either is everyone’s favorite fish: salmon. With more purveyors, the quality is highly variable, so make sure you tread carefully.
Once upon a time, wheat germ ruled the grain world, but grains are becoming a lot more attractive especially flecked with fruits or veggies and nuts. Unrefined whole grains have suddenly become chic and sophisticated, as well as convenient and versatile. Grain salad has never been more popular.
There was a ton of new healthy candies at the show this year, but not necessarily eye candy at all. Some looked indistinguishable from junk; others were pleasant surprises with tasteful packaging created by—believe it or not—interior designers.
Perhaps it’s the lure of the South Pacific islands calling to us “loud and clear” like Bali Hai that’s causing coconut flakes to show up like alluring, tasty tropical snow on so many products. Not to be outdone, mixologists are using coconut water and Greek yogurt for their new hot mixers. Hold the olive, please.
Peruvian food was given a big push, but I saw just as much excitement coming out of Hawaii; water, coffee, chocolate, nuts and honey. Subliminal message: if you can’t get to paradise, at least you can eat it.
In fact, messages are big and people are getting way more didactic, so be prepared for an onslaught of food-makes-you-happy slogans: Eat Well Enjoy Life Hummus; Explore Cheese; Hemp and Happiness, Live Large Eat Small; Love Grown Foods. Gotta love that.
Over all, the takeaway from the 2013 Winter Fancy Food Show is an exciting one. Healthy goes mainstream. Get ready for truly easy, bag and go yumminess.
Nancy Trent is a writer and speaker, a lifelong health advocate, a globe-trotting trend watcher and the founder and president of Trent & Company, a New York-based marketing communications firm. Trent & Company grew out of Nancy’s personal commitment to helping people live longer and healthier lives. A former journalist for New York magazine, Nancy has written seven books on healthy lifestyles, serves on the editorial boards of several magazines and travels around the world speaking at conferences and trade shows on trends in the marketplace. She is a recognized expert in PR with more than 30 years of experience creating and managing highly successful campaigns. Nancy can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit www.trentandcompany.com.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2013 (online 2/1/13)