For 41 years, the specialty food industry has descended and connected at the Winter Fancy Food Show. Held in San Francisco at the Moscone convention halls, this tradeshow gives a glimpse at trends that will hit store shelves later on in the year. Taking up the north and south halls, with 80,000 products and 1,400 exhibitors, this is a show where everyone can find something to suit their tastes.
A robust international section offers peeks into ingredients or products like Matcha green tea swirl ice cream cones from Japan available for import. This year they’ve grouped new brands on the shelf in their own pavilion, along with an area in the north hall where foods are grouped by state, as well as a cluster of Brooklyn based-businesses in the New York segment of aisle. The cheese section tantalizes with large wheels and chipped-off samples. And, among the many chocolate and confection purveyors, you can usually find a tea vendor or coffee set-up to caffeinate.
What brings retail buyers and industry insiders to this eponymous show is trying to decipher what flavors will emerge as trends and need-to-have items. With so many products to sample, it can be blissfully overwhelming and a sensory overload. But, spend some time trolling the aisles long enough and flavor patterns begin to be teased out. Here’s a distilled list of trends and interesting products that rose this year to the top of the pack.
Annelies Zijderveld’s first cookbook, Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea, is available now. She has been published in Curator magazine, Arthouse America, and Sated Magazine. Follow her teatime antics and cooking with tea journey on Instagram @anneliesz.