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Approachability, Familiarity With a Twist Stand Out at Fancy Food Show

Trendspotter panel '24 Summer Show

Approachable specialties that may act as a gateway to other innovative fare is among the trends spotted on the Summer Fancy Food Show floor by Melanie Bartelme, associate director of Mintel Food & Drink and member of SFA’s Trendspotter Panel of experts who scour the Fancy Food Shows seeking trends.

“In the Bulgarian Pavilion there was a hot sauce designed for kids that was pretty mild and there were other palate openers for different products. Even in cheeses there was a milder blue cheese and a mild gouda. These might be for people who don’t really know what to expect or who may be intimidated by blue cheese,” said Bartelme during SFA’s Trendspotter Panel discussion, Tuesday, which also included Trendspotter Kat Craddock, who is editor-in-chief and CEO at Saveur.

When discussing the heat of certain products, Craddock remarked that specialty makers are more focused on the flavor that ingredients deliver.

“With some of the oil-based chili condiments like salsa macha it’s more about the flavor of the peppers than the amount of heat,” Craddock said.

When asked about the prevalence of GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic and whether the small portions of nutrient-dense foods sought by its users could change the way we approach snacking and meals, and how specialty makers, in turn, respond, Bartelme said that even non-users of these drugs, and Americans in general, are seeking these types of foods.

“A lot of people have adopted snacking and it’s not necessarily just for people on these drugs. We talk a lot about this at Mintel and where it is going and we’ve really come to the conclusion that no matter how you’re approaching dieting or choosing to eat and take care of your body, more companies are offering what you really need in different ways. Nestle came out with essentially a Lean Cuisine that was intended for people who are on [diabetes drugs] to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need from the smaller portions that they are consuming."

Craddock noted that snacking has grown post-pandemic as a result of greater workplace flexibility.

“More people are eating at home and working from home,” she said. “We don’t have to live out our food consumption in a lunch hour. It opens up a whole new way to sustain yourself.”

Versatile products also stood out at the Show.

“There is a lot of pressure on consumers to make sure that the products that they’re buying are really doing as much for them as they can and I think there is a spectrum of people who can participate in specialty products,” said Bartelme, who noted that versatility is often key to justifying an expense. “There is an emergence of products that are really focusing on ‘I’m not a healthier this, I’m not a special ingredient that.’ It’s more of 'I’m a cake mix and I’m just a really good cake mix and you can start with that and do other things with it.'”

She gave the example of Flour & Olive’s Almond Scratch Olive Oil Cake Mix. The brand’s website features a world map with recipes from around the globe that can be made with the mix.

“It’s about starting with a really great product and helping the consumer understand what to do with it or say 'hey, you can just have this as is or you can really kind of chose your own adventure with it,'” she said.

Fruit forward products and fruits as snacks, continue to trend.

“My very first bite when I got here to the show was of durian,” said Craddock. “It’s a very polarizing flavor. Some people think it tastes like vanilla and custard, other people think it tastes like onions, but I was really excited to see that in the new products area.”

Bartelme, who is a produce analyst, was also pleased with the showing of fruit.

“There are companies like Oishii with their vertically farmed strawberries and I have a friend here in the audience who makes a yellow tomato Bloody Mary mix which caught my eye because it’s a different color so it’s something very familiar. You already know what a Bloody Mary is and you know what a tomato is and let me see what it tastes like. So familiarity brings you into wanting to experience something and then you get to unpack the unique things about it,” Bartelme said.