New York, NY—TheSpeciality Food Association’s 65th Summer Fancy Food Show (SFFS) took place at the Javits Center in New York City from June 23-25, and there was plenty of innovation, education and delicious goodness to fill the three-day event.

The Specialty Food Association released its annual State of the Specialty Food Industry Report earlier in June, and it revealed that specialty is one of the fastest-growing segments of the food business, with total sales climbing 9.8% between 2016 and 2018. The 3 categories with the highest dollar growth in the segment, which reached $148.7 billion in sales last year: refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives; rice cakes; and frozen plant-based meat alternatives. In terms of market share, the 2019 report revealed that plant-based rules, with refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives, refrigerated plant-based milk and shelf-stable plant-based milk claiming the top spots.

The report points out that plant-based is a lifestyle movement that shows no signs of slowing, and that certainly seemed to be the case while walking the aisles of the Javits Center during the show. In terms of trends, plant-based dominated. But it’s not the only hot topic out there in the world of specialty food. A variety of natural and organic offerings were in abundant supply at the show, with functionality and sustainability as top-notes for many companies. Here, a look at the major trends.

  1. Functional Sips, Shots and Tonics. We're talking companies like The Republic of Tea, which seemed to have a product to fit every trend—Apple Cider Vinegar Single Sips; probiotic Instant Daily Greens Single Sips made with matcha, moringa, and Ganedan BC30; and Instant Turmeric Single Sips, made with monk fruit. Goldthread Plant Based Tonics was there, too, with their herbal tonics—that particular company was a WholeFoods favorite at the Plant-Based World Expo a couple weeks ago. Clear Cut Phocus brought their sparkling water, infused with L-Theanine and caffeine sourced from green tea, so that you can drink sparkling water that's both refreshing and functional.
  2. Hidden-Goodness Snacks & Sweets. Foods with delicious flavors intended to attract kids and adults alike were crammed with nutrients to help attendees make it through long days at the show—or at work, or traveling, or for parents looking to keep up with their kids. RIND Snacks was there, with chewy snacks that keep their peel on for maximum nutrition. WOLO Snacks attended, too, with their S'mores and Salted Caramel flavored bars that are also full of protein and other nutrients to help travelers stay on the move.
  3. Familiar Faves with a Gourmet Twist. My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream came with mochi, made with premium ice cream and the delicious mochi dough. Endoughable was dishing out all-natural edible cookie dough, and there was also Unbakeables, a mother-daughter team with a premium edible cookie dough. Render upped the game with their products: For a crunchy snack, they've got quinoa-based snacks in Almond Rosemary and Sea Salt, to name a couple; for a sparkling water, or a fruity drink, they brought their Weyla line, made with upcycled whey, fruit, herbs, and botanicals—and it was all made with help from chefs, to ensure a gourmet taste to an on-shelf product. Making cashews even more delicious, Sunshine Nut Company was sharing cashews grown, roasted and packaged in Mozambique, with varieties like Handful of Herbs and Spark of Spices with subtle added kick (Sunshine Nut also has an impressive history and social mission, which we will share on this site in a future article). Alsoo n the savory side, Colavita was showcasing sauces and oils; and Bono USA was spreading the word about its Extra Virgin Olive Oil and marmalades.
  4. Plant-Based Everything. Michelle Simon, executive director of the Plant-Based Foods Association, said in an educational talk titled Plant-Based Foods: A Movement, Not a Trend: "A trade group is really a good sign that a movement is big and here to stay." Ann Beaty, the director of the Kroger Merchandising Consulting group 84.51, noted that people are buying plant-based—and then buying it again. Plenty of companies at Fancy Foods have found their way into the movement: Elmhurst brought coffee creamers made from hemp cream for a morning boost of omegas; Mooala also had delicious plant-based creamers and milk (the banana is so oh-so good); Kitchen Accomplice was showing off their vegan No-Bone Broth Concentrate; Good Catch was exhibiting their Fish-Free Tuna; and Quantum Squares brought a variety of their plant-based Energy Squares in flavors like Caffé Mocha Almond Chip and Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate.
We'll be sharing more about the brands we sampled and savored--watch for our August issue, where we'll spotlight some of the delicious offerings we spotted at the Fancy Food Show for kids, likeSunButterSunSnacker,PeekabooIce Cream, which sneaks in veggies, andOrganic Smart Kidsflavored juice with coconut water.