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.
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Turmeric: This Indian spice known for its anti-inflammatory effects and bright yellow hue is now offered both in large bottles of Som drinking vinegar and is offered as one of three flavors in the new Som Soda line from Portland, OR restaurant Pok Pok.
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The Milwaukee tea company Rishi Tea turned their popular loose tea Turmeric Ginger into its own chai concentrate that they served with sparkling water at the show for a bit of effervescent zing.
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Global Seasoning Shakers & Beyond: Global Flavor Shakers makes Korean gochujang powder, ramen crunch, and sriracha powder for sriracha fans to sprinkle on bold flavors.
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That love of all things hot and spicy also translates to Tajín chips- a popular seasoning in Mexico, now dusting kettle-cooked potato chips from Pop!.
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Dang Foods introduced their new crunchy onion chips made of onion layers and available in flavors like chipotle garlic.
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New Arare Rice Crackers sizzle in sriracha and sweet and savory Thai flavors from Lotus Foods.
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Gochujang teams up with ssamjang and doenjang fermented chili pastes for Korean cuisine at the Roland booth.
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Gochujang might be the secret sauce this year as this double fermented chili paste with amazing umami flavor and heat makes its way into We Rub You sauce to slather over grilled meat and plant-based proteins.
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Maine gelateria, Gelato Fiasco uses milk sourced in Maine to make their gelato in bold, trending flavors like Sriracha Peanut Gelato or Caramel Sea Salt.
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Asian-Style Jerky: Fusion Jerky describes their cooking process of chipotle lime beef jerky as kettle-cooking the jerky low and slow, giving the jerky its moist texture.