July 5, 2022

Trend Spotting at the 2022 Summer Fancy Food Show

After pausing for two years due to the pandemic, the Summer Fancy Food Show returned in-person to the world’s commercial center, New York City. More than 1,800 domestic and international exhibitors from over 60 countries, along with buyers, producers, and business services providers all gathered at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

As the largest B2B U.S. show devoted to specialty foods and beverages, the Fancy Food Show presents the state of the specialty food industry with the latest trends and innovations. So what are some of the major trends spotted at the show?

Plant-based products feature even more plant varieties.

According to the Specialty Food Association, the overall plant-based specialty retail market grew 6% CAGR in 2021, which outpaced the growth of the overall specialty retail market (4% CAGR).1 From dairy aisle to the seafood counter, plant-based innovations now appear in more categories and with more plant varieties:

Better-for-you snacks are growing across categories.

Better-for-you products continue to evolve toward fewer ingredients, less sugar, lower calories and more novel flavors. The growth in the better-for-you category in 2021 was represented by the growth of sales in two categories: wellness bars and gels and functional beverages. There was also a rapid growth in the specialty beverages categories, especially among ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic beverages and fermented functional cocktails.

In fact, better-for-you is a trend across categories:

International flavors are going mainstream.

With vendors from over 80 countries, the international pavilion reflected American consumers’ increased interest in global and multicultural flavors.[1] Domestic products now feature more international flavors than ever.

Homemade meals are going gourmet. The pandemic has encouraged more home cooking. While people are no longer homebound, sales continued to grow in various cooking and baking categories throughout 2021, and the trend continues through April 2022.[2] Entrepreneurs have hence seized the opportunity to bring gourmet experiences straight to consumers’ homes.

The specialty food market has prospered amid the ups and downs of the pandemic, reaching $175 billion in retail, foodservice, and ecommerce sales in 2021. This increase in sales brought interesting innovations from new plant-based options to globally inspired and gourmet offerings. Yet, the specialty food industry continues to face challenges, including inflation and supply chain difficulties and other issues. How will innovators adapt to these challenges moving forward? We look forward to reporting on the latest and greatest next year at the Fancy Food Show 2023!

[1] (Symrise flavor NA report, Hasegawa USA report)

[2] (specialty food association magazine summer issue)

Yuchen He, is a Padilla NEXTern in our Boston Office and a graduate student studying Nutrition Communication at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition. She is starting her dietetic internship this September at Yale New Haven Hospital. Having been a “lab rat” for years, she is passionate about communicating responsibly and accurately as a scientist in the food industry. This passion deepened as she had a taste of the exciting trends (and flavors!) in the food industry through an internship at a food incubator, the Hatchery Chicago, last summer. Long-term, she hopes to work in the precision nutrition field and help various stakeholders to better understand and develop the field. She hopes to learn from and help the FoodMinds team as much as possible this summer! In her free time, she loves exploring different ethnic foods, be that a novel veggie or a new bakery. She also climbs rocks (in the gym mostly) and lift heavy things. She hopes to keep eating and cooking new things and climbing the hardest way up a rock until she’s 101 years old.

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