Trend Predictions Put to the Test at Winter Fancy Food Show

By Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel

Trend Predictions Put to the Test at Winter Fancy Food ShowArmed with predictions for 2018, released by the Specialty Food Association in November, the West Coast arm of the Trendspotter Panel attended the recent Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.  Scouring over 90,000 products, the panel assessed and noted a variety of products that either reflected the predictions, or indicated new or emerging trends.

“This is an exciting time in specialty food,” said Denise Purcell, head of content, Specialty Food Association. “We’re seeing innovation everywhere, from specific ingredients to flavor profiles. There are new spins on classics, as well as brand new categories emerging.  International flavors and culture are also playing a huge role in shaping the category.  This growing market is anything but boring at the moment.”

The Winter Fancy Food Show Trendspotter Panel included Polly Adema, PhD, associate professor and director of graduate Food Studies Program, University of the Pacific SF; Kara Nielsen, vice president, Trends & Marketing, CCD Innovation; Tu David Phu, chef/owner, AN – a Vietnamese Dining Experience; and Joey Wells, American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional and Whole Foods Market Global Senior Coordinator overseeing Specialty Cheese Product Innovation & Development.


  1. Plant-based Foods. Plant-based foods cut across many categories and algae, which was predicted to take off in 2018, continued to appear.
  • Fora Faba Butter, made with aquafaba
  • K’ul Chocolate Superfood Bar, 70 percent dark chocolate, 8 grams of algae protein
  • New Wave Foods, algae and plant-based shrimp
  • Roland Foods Quinoa Spreads, blend of quinoa, and plant-based ingredients
  • Tru Flavors Salad Dressing, a single-serve, shelf-stable, bean-based dressing
  • Unisoy Vegan Jerky
  • Wellnut Farms Walnut Butters, made of 100 percent walnuts
  1. Functional Mushrooms. Originally on the 2018 emerging trend list, mushrooms are taking off as both a snack and a functional ingredient.
  • Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixers, powdered-drink–packets that dissolve in hot water
  • Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, shiitake mushrooms with a meaty texture
  • Yuguo Farms Mushroom Chips, whole, sustainably grown shiitake mushrooms
  1. Alternative Sweeteners. Consumer interest in reducing refined white sugar has led to alternatives.
  • Droga Chocolates Money on Honey Caramels, sweetened with True Source-verified honey
  • Elements Truffles, chocolate bars that are raw, organic, dairy-free, and sweetened with honey
  • Just Date Syrup, made from organic Medjool dates
  • The Republic of Tea Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Sips, sweetened with monk fruit
  • Salviana Raw Maguey Sap, raw prebiotic-rich syrup made from Maguey Pulquero
  • Sejoyia Coco-Thins, gluten-free cookies sweetened with organic coconut sugar
  • Soozy’s Muffins, Paleo certified and sweetened with organic coconut sugar
  1. Deeper Middle Eastern Flavors. Prominent flavors and ingredients broadened to include Central and South Asia, and North Africa.
  • Casablanca Market Moroccan Harissa, Preserved Lemons, and Purple Olives
  • FoodMatch Marinated Artichokes with Harissa
  • Rumi Spice Afghan Curry Braise cooking sauce, with sustainably farmed saffron from Afghanistan
  • Snackgold cHarissa Gourmet Potato Crisps, partnership between Spanish gourmet potato chip makers and cHarissa spice company



  1. Collagen-Infused Foods. First appearing in snack bars, it is now showing up in beverages.
  • HealthVerve BBGLO Skin Rejuvenation Collagen Drink
  • SkinTe sparkling tea beverage with collagen, under development by students at Oregon’s University of Portland


  1. Moringa. A plant native to India, it is being touted as a new superfood.
  • Miracle Tea Moringa Superfood Energy Infusion Tea
  • Stash Tea Organic Moringa Mint Herbal Tea


  1. Black Rice. Used as an ingredient in solid and liquid form. The pigments that give the rice its color are rich in antioxidants and other health benefits.
  • Suzie’s Table Black Rice Non-Dairy Beverage
  • Theo’s Black Rice Quinoa Crunch Dark Chocolate Bar


  1. Snack Puffs. Nut and vegetable updates to the classic cheese puffs.
  • Puffworks Peanut Butter Puffs
  • Suzie’s 2 Pease and a Bean, pea-protein–based puffed snack
  • Vegan Rob’s Brussels Sprout Puffs, Probiotic Cauliflower Puffs, and Beet Puffs



  1. Specialty Waters. The category is expected to grow 111.5 percent by 2021, according to Mintel category forecasting research for SFA.
  • Herb & Lou’s Infused Ice Cubes, flavored water containers that consumers freeze and mix with spirits
  • Kona Deep Water Purified Ocean Water from the waters of Hawaii, containing naturally occurring deep ocean electrolytes
  • Water Joe Caffeinated Water, infused with 85 milligrams of caffeine, no sugar, zero calories
  1. Turmeric. Native to Southeast Asia and India, it is being used as an ingredient in more categories, especially snacks.
  • David Rio Turmeric Golden Latte
  • Jade Spice Vegan Turmeric Salt
  • Lotus Pops Roasted Lotus Seeds, in turmeric flavor
  • Oskri’s 3 Egg White Protein Bar, in turmeric flavor
  • Theo Chocolate Clusters, made with turmeric, hemp, chia flour and sorghum
  • Theo’s Turmeric Ginger Dark Milk Chocolate Bar
  • Wai Lona Turmeric Cheese Cassava Chips
  • Zotter Chocolate’s Vegan White Rice & Turmeric Disc, a white chocolate treat of vegetal origin

Additional product innovations at the Winter Show, noted by the Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel:

  • 4th & Heart Chocti Chocolate Ghee Spread
  • Belgian Boys Mini Stash, Mini Pancakes, and Mini Butter Crepes
  • Blue Hill Bay Smoked Ahi Tuna Bowl
  • Bonne Maman Intense, a new line of preserves with more fruit and 39% less sugar
  • Bravado Spice Company, ghost pepper & blueberry
  • Brooklyn Delhi Tomato Achaar, Indian tomato-chili sauce
  • Chuao Chocolate Sprinkle Dreams, with bits of waffle cone, hazelnuts and rainbow sprinkles
  • Cypress Grove specialty fresh goat cheese in 1-ounce packages
  • Dardimans California, whimsical lollipops
  • Dang Sticky Rice Chips, cheddar flavor
  • Den’s Tea Houjicha Roasted Tea, reminiscent of chocolate
  • Field Trip Crispy Cuts Sweet Chipotle, pork rinds
  • Ito En Matcha Love Japanese Matcha + Apple + Ginger Tea Bags
  • Joyfull Parmesan Crisps, made with 100% aged Parmesan cheese
  • Kasugai Gummies, lychee flavor
  • Kimino Drinks Sparkling Yuzu, sparkling wither with yuzu juice and organic sugar cane
  • Krave Jerky, Pink Peppercorn, with pink Himalayan salt and pink peppercorns
  • LemonCocco, non-carbonated drink made with Sicilian lemon and coconut flavors
  • Morinaga Alove, Japanese yogurt with chewy bits of aloe and natural flavors
  • Sencha Matcha Latte (Cacao Coconut), vegan latte drink mix
  • Sfoglini Pasta, American organic grains and using traditional Italian methods
  • Wünder Creamery Quark, mild in acidity, friendly flavors, high in protein and good fats

About the Specialty Food Association
The Specialty Food Association is a thriving community of food artisans, importers, and entrepreneurs. Established in 1952 in New York, the not-for-profit trade association provides its 3,600 members in the U.S. and abroad with resources, knowledge, and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace. The Association owns and produces the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and presents the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty food. Learn more at

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