Hot, Spicy and Popped Lead the Latest Culinary Trends at the 2014 Summer Fancy Food Show

Kevin Flight

The foodie in me rejoices every June for the annual Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City because of the vast array of new specialty products to learn about, sample and add to my grocery list. I’m not alone either. This year’s Summer Fancy Food Show was the largest since its debut in 1955 with 2,730 specialty food makers, importers and entrepreneurs exhibiting the latest products and gastronomic trends.

As much as I love trying new foods and hearing about what’s next in the culinary world from a personal consumer standpoint, the marketer in me is equally interested in chatting with companies about plans for launching new products and where they’ve had interest from retailers. Having worked many public relations campaigns with food brands, I enjoy hearing how companies are planning to communicate with consumers through traditional and digital media about their new products.

Among the trends we’ll be watching along with the rest of foodies across America:

  • The Rise of Gourmet Popcorn – Popcorn has been a longtime favorite among consumers, but the snack has been re-imagined by innovative brands with new flavors and concepts. This trend shouldn’t be surprising as “ready-to-eat popcorn” has seen double-digit growth the past 3-4 years with some $600 million in annual sales. My personal favorite was an anti-aging popcorn by SexyPop, filled with antioxidants making this a snack that loves your skin. Health benefits aside, SexyPop offers fun flavors including Bodacious Banana, Brazilian Coconut and Bangin’ Cheddar.
  • The Heat is On – Sriracha may have been the hottest word of the Fancy Food Show (pun intended). The Thai hot sauce found its way into multiple products on the showroom floor, from popcorn to chocolate to sun dried tomato ketchup. Similar to the chipotle mayo craze a few years back, I’m fascinated to see how these new products attaching themselves to the Sriracha name (and flavor) perform with consumers in the coming year. While Sriracha was “it” in terms of hot sauces, there were plenty of other condiments vying for their spicy share including Korean brand Chung Jung One’s Gochujang red pepper paste.
  • Pumpkin in New Places – Pumpkin has always been a fall favorite in pies, bread and coffee, but more and more brands are bringing this Halloween staple into new food categories. Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps, a favorite with cracker enthusiasts, was sampling a seasonal pumpkin crisp that will debut in the fall for a limited time. Not to be outdone, Skillet Street Food was sampling its line of pumpkin ketchups with delectable flavors such as Thai Coconut and Chipotle. Will this influx in new food offerings help pumpkin jump from a seasonal delight to a year-round money-maker for brands?
  • Bring On The Bacon – Bacon may not be a new food trend, but some of the creative uses of this swine delicacy at the show will have Americans thinking of it in a whole new way. Equally as good as Skillet Street Foods’ aforementioned Pumpkin Ketchups were its collection of Bacon Jams. As a bacon lover, this ground-breaking concept blew my mind! Additionally, the bacon cheeseburger has been a staple at restaurants for years, but this classic took on a new form at the Fancy Food Show – in a block of cheese. Yancey’s Fancy combined the two in a cheese that is sure to be a hit at grocery stores.

 

Now that the show is over and these products will be available at grocery stores across the country, it will be interesting to see how each brand rolls out its new offerings and how consumers react, particularly with the influential Millennial demographic. As these new items are unveiled which food products and trends do you think will yield the most success with both food makers and marketers?

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