Back to Specialty Food News

10 Winter Show Trends From SFA's Trendspotters

Specialty Food Association

From January 15-17, the SFA Trendspotter Panel navigated thousands of specialty food products showcased by more than 1,100 exhibitors at the Winter Fancy Food Show in Las Vegas. Ten prominent trends emerged from the Show.

“Products that make home cooking more convenient and restaurant-quality are in demand, whether meal starter kits, distinctive salts or butters, condiments from around the world, or foods from different global regions available as frozen entrees,” said Denise Purcell, SFA’s vice president, resource development. “Sustainability and health in balance are top trend themes too, with foods and beverages that use upcycled or regeneratively grown ingredients, as well as better-for-you indulgences from tempeh, water lily seed, or bean snacks to alcohol-free cocktails,” she added.

The trends are:

1. Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Culture

2. Fermented for Function

3. Honey Is Hot

4. New Packaging Form and Utility

5. Starters, Bases, Kits, and Shortcuts for Convenience

6. Pantry Without Borders

7. Sustainable, Upcycled, or Regeneratively Grown Ingredients

8. High-Quality Meal Prep

9. Health in Balance

10. Beneficial Beans (and Lentils)

The Winter Fancy Food Show Trendspotters included Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo, food & sustainability consultant; Nicole Brisson, executive chef, Brezza and Bar Zasu,; Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, CHE, CRC, professor and director, Drexel Food Lab; Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., CFS, IFT Fellow, principal, Corvus Blue LLC; Kimberly Lord Stewart, food and health content specialist; V. Sheree Williams, founder, The Global Food & Drink Initiative, editor and publisher, Cuisine Noir.

Full details are below:

Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Culture

Alcohol-free beverages are dominating in the ongoing cocktail trend, giving consumers sophisticated, well-crafted, and flavorful options in elegant packaging, equal to their traditional counterparts. “Truly alchemists, [makers are] combining active plants, adaptogens, and nootropics to create unique alcohol-free cocktails,” noted Trendspotter Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo. Women- and diverse-owned companies are taking the lead in innovation in several products. Examples include:

• Abstinence Spirits alcohol-free botanical spirits and aperitifs

• For Bitter For Worse non-alcoholic sparkling aperitifs, wine, and spirits

• Hibisbloom handcrafted beverages and mixers interpreted from the West African hibiscus flower tea, bissap

• MIXOLOSHE low-calorie non-alcoholic cocktail alternative in six flavors

• Prima Pavé Italian alcohol-free sparkling wine

• Three Spirits non-alcoholic wine and spirits

Fermented for Function

As consumers gain understanding of the importance of digestive health to overall well-being, fermentation in new uses is creating healthful value-adds to foods and beverages. “The trend extends to pickles, beverages made with koji, sauces and adaptogentic plants,” said Trendspotter Kimberly Lord Stewart. Examples include:

• Britt’s Fermented Foods Pickles made without vinegar

• Es KOJI CLEAR Clear Beverage

• Gutsy Kombucha, Adapt2, with fermented adaptogenic herbs 

• Hichifuku Brewing organic white soy sauce

• Inner Love Water Kefir with electrolytes, B vitamins, and other beneficial bacteria and enzymes

Honey Is Hot

A new batch of honeys is hitting the market featuring adaptogen infusions, forest-grown varieties that are sustainably harvested, and hot flavor profiles showcasing different spices. Some of these products “combat climate change and support local enterprises,” said Trendspotter Kantha Shelke. Examples include:

• African Bronze Honey Company Forest Honey

• Frangiosa Farms Bee Sheperd Raw Honey infused with lion’s main and reishi mushrooms

• King Island Pure Manuka Honey

• Runamok Honey Szechuan, peppercorn-infused hot honey

New Packaging Form and Utility

Innovative packaging that addresses portability and convenience, as well as creative ways to consume traditional products, is leading innovation from meal cups to tea discs to freeze drying products like candy and salsa. “The freeze-dried format allows for convenience and ease, which allows it to be enjoyed almost anywhere. The way they also did the freeze drying kept the flavor, delivering an authentic experience,” said Trendspotter V. Sheree Williams. Examples:

• Dietz and Watson diced pancetta

• Freeze Nums Freeze Dried Candy

• iLOLA Tea Discs

• Mr. Kipling individually sealed cake slices for portion control

• Salsa Queen freeze dried salsa

• Sweet Craft Dolceria desserts in reusable glass jars

Starters, Bases, Kits, and Shortcuts for Convenience

Convenience in at-home cooking is a top 2023 trend, according to the Trendspotter panel, as consumers have ambitions to keep up their pandemic-era home cooking but lack time. The Winter Fancy Food Show brought several meal starters, sauce starters, frozen meals, and other shortcuts to the forefront. Several options are also helping consumers create recipes without a lot of prep or ingredient purchases. Examples include:

• Chilau Stew Base

• Eleni’s Kitchen EK Ethiopian Injera and Simmering Sauces

• Khalsa Salsa Indian Fusion salsa starter

• Meat Shredz Dried Meat

• Norseland Lotito Presto Cacio e Pepe Pasta Sauce starter

• Rill Foods Soup Kits

• Two Fish Seafood Boil in a bag

Pantry Without Borders

Trendspotters saw a crop of condiments, sauces, oils, and seasonings that help people enjoy global and regional tastes at home as a top trend for 2023. That held firm at the Winter Show where the trend also extended to snacks, cookies, beverages, and other grocery staples. Many of the products representing the trend are from “farm to table, family-run small business and showcase superior ingredient use,” said Trendspotter Nicole Brisson. Examples include:

• Olio Arkè di Sicilia EVOO Black and Green label

• KTM Services Taro Cookies, a local Hawaiian favorite

• Mi Mole Oaxaca Mole negro oaxaqueño

• The French Farm Sur les Quais Mustards in flavors like honey and curry, walnut, and zaatar

• Three Amigos Elote Mexican Street Corn Snack Mix

• Wen & Winnie Trading Cravi Milk Tea in original, taro, and brown sugar

Sustainable, Upcycled, or Regeneratively Grown Ingredients

The health of the environment continues to be a top consumer concern and they align themselves with brands who take it seriously. This is opening the door for more products that are responsibly grown or produced, ethically sourced, use upcycled ingredients, or contain sustainable packaging. Products range from plant-based sushi to a new spirit made from upcycled whey. “This farm-to-flash spirit was developed by a food scientist as a sustainable way to use whey without going to waste,” said Trendspotter Shelke. Examples include:

• 40 Below Fruity Whey

• CinSoy Tofu Gnocchi made from regeneratively grown soybeans

• Konscious Foods Plant-Based Sushi

• Avocado Tea Co. Avocado Leaf Tea

• Molino Grassi organic, biodiverse, wheat flour and semolina

• Neptune Snacks Fish Jerky Seafood Snacks

• Wheyward Spirit 80-proof spirit distilled from upcycled whey

• Wild Orchard Tea Company Regenerative Organic Certified tea line

High-Quality Meal Prep

Exhibitors at the Winter Show showcased several products to help home cooks prepare meals with restaurant-quality ingredients. Products ran the gamut from croutons to smoked and sea urchin butter—with high-end flavor use and a little indulgence as a common goal. Examples include:

• Marin Food Smoked Butter and Sea Urchin Butter

• Naogen Soy Sauce Crystalized Shoyu

• Nihon Ichiban clear soy sauce

• Olivia’s Croutons in Butter & Garlic, and Parmesan Pepper

• Perfect Puree Lime Zest

• Portland Salt Co. Steak Salt, Pita Salt, and Toast Sugar

 •Sunnygem Virgin Cold-Pressed Almond Oil

Health in Balance

While the past few years, especially, have put health and immune system boosting foods top of mind, consumers still want to indulge. Better-for-you snacks and treats continue to dominate.

• Hero Bread low carb and zero carb bread and baked goods

• Woh Naturally Delicious Tempeh and Salacca Chips

• Wonder Monday low carb, low sugar, high protein Cheesecake

• Route to India Yoga Pops popped water lily seed snack

Beneficial Beans (and Lentils)

From crisps to snacks to seasoned varieties to new to-go packages and pouches, beans such as black, pinto, and fava, as well as lentils, dominated at the Winter Show as protein alternatives and better-for-you chip options. Some products such as South African Chakalaka are “diverse owned and new ideas on the market,” said Trendspotter Jonathan Deutsch. Examples:

• BeanVIVO organic seasoned beans in pouches, dips, and snack packs

• Chakalaka Brands Chakalaka, a bean-based traditional South African dish

• Gran Luchito Cantina Restaurant Style Black Beans in a pouch

• Lentiful instant lentils in cups

• Sanchi Foods Bean and Lentil Crisps in Chili Garlic, Tikka Masala, and Sea Salt

• Three Farmers Fava and Lentil Snacks in Sweet Chili, Sea Salt, and Zesty Cheddar

Related: FreshDirect Showcases Black-Owned Businesses; Wegmans Opens Virginia Location.