Milan was the food capital of the world last week. The biannual Tuttofood conference was at its largest ever and coincided with the launch of the Milan Expo, this year’s food-themed world’s fair.

With more than 2,800 exhibitors, Tuttofood has climbed the ranks to become Europe’s third-largest food fair, according to organizers. It’s gaining a more global presence, too, with 43 countries represented among the 400-plus non-Italian exhibitors, up 80 percent since the last show in 2013.

That growth has made the show floor a prime location for identifying trends and promising products in the specialty food arena. The Green Foods pavilion, which encompasses organic, vegetarian/vegan, functional foods, and baby food, has grown threefold since the previous show.

Stateside trends were in full force on the show floor, from distinctive ingredients to products emblazoned with gluten-free claims.

 
 

Even in the land of pasta and Parmiggiano Reggiano, gluten-free and vegan alternatives abounded. It’s good news for ancient grains, which are the basis for many new products, from farro pasta to kamut biscuits to spelt croissants.

Tapping into the functional food movement, inventive items included “uber” snack bars featuring superfoods like goji berries and spirulina, and a self-proclaimed functional pizza, the recipe of which claims to meet the European Food Safety Authority’s standards for nutritional balance.

Green tea is gaining a presence in Italy as well, with products like Inclusioni’s matcha chocolate bar, part of a globally inspired line.

As for unique finds at the show, three buyers from the U.S. shared what stood out most to them.

Photos: Tuttofood (logo), Eva Meszaros (slideshow)