Every January, 18,000+ retailers, artisans, journalists, whole sellers, distributors, and adventurous eaters gather at the Moscone Center for the annual winter Fancy Foods Show. Put on by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, the massive event is a great place to sample new products, spot trends, and taste old favorites (I’m looking at you jamon iberico de jabugo).
At this sort of show, everyone from writers to publicists love to talk about trends. However, the thing is, there’s so much of everything, from salsas and oils to cheese and proscuitto, that basically everything could be a trend. Only when you go year after year can you really see the trends.
Since this was my seventh year in a row attending, I was able to identify a few things that seemed new and trendy. For example, South America had a much bigger prescence than past years, with great offerings from Peru, Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador. This means we can expect more South American products reaching the masses here in North America.
Alternative sodas (all natural, fruit based, real ginger ale, etc.) and chips (quinoa chips, lentil chips, etc.) were on practically every aisle, but the thing that was really everywhere was the label Gluten-Free. It seems as if nothing is made with flour these days! Oatmeal and coconut were also huge. I saw a lot of different oatmeal brands and even tasted oat milk, which was similar to almond milk.
Stay tuned: tomorrow I’ll be sharing my top 10 tastes from the event.