By: Cheryl Weissman
Each July, thousands of food and drinks companies, product press and industry insiders descend upon NYC’s Jacob Javits Center for the Fancy Food Show -- a veritable feast for the eyes and stomach. The show features rows upon rows of brands hoping to make it big on grocers’ shelves and in consumers’ shopping carts.
This year’s show was no different. Walking from booth to booth, we tasted a dizzying amount of new foods (pro tip: come hungry, and wear elastic waist pants). Here are a few trends we spotted, along with some of the best products we sampled this year:
- Raising the Bar on Bars: The nutrition/granola/protein/meal replacement bar landscape continues to shift and expand. And while RXBar remains the leader of the pack, there are countless new brands breaking through the clutter with unique offerings. We saw and tried tons from recognized and new companies alike. JonesBar and 88 Acres rose to the top as ones to watch. Both are handmade simply in small batches with organic ingredients.
- Spreading the Love: Single-serve products are on the rise, catering to an increasingly mobile consumer. When it comes to spreads, single-serve packets are an especially convenient way to boost flavor for those looking to indulge. The best way to do it is with Spread Delights’ line of indulgent offerings -- some of the most delicious things we had a chance to taste at the show. For those looking for an alternative to the single-serve nut butters on the market, RXBar is now offering nut butter spreads with their latest launch -- almond butter, a quick and tasty way to get some protein in your day while on the run.
- Boozy Booch: When Kombucha started going mainstream, many people claimed drinking a bottle made them feel a bit tipsy. Well Kombucha companies like Wild Tonic are now making that a reality, serving up alcoholic kombuchas in an effort to keep your gut healthy while simultaneously enjoying a cocktail.
- Chocolate + Candy FTW: It’s not hard to entice people with delicious chocolate, but the ways in which the industry continues to innovate are impressive. From Biena’s Girl Scouts Thin Mints Chickpea Snacks and ethically sourced, eco-friendly, nothing-artificial chocolate treats from Unreal, to Tony’s Chocoloney -- a brand on a mission to make 100 percent slave-free the norm in chocolate -- chocoholics have lots to be excited about. And a deeper look into sweets revealed a variety of beautifully packaged brands that not only taste great but are eye candy too. Look out for Salty Road Salt Water Taffy and Olive & Sinclair Southern Artisan Chocolates for treats that are Instagrammable AND delicious.
- Crazy for Cold Brew: Coffee has gotten a reboot with the rise of amped-up cold-brew brands, many reminiscent of small-batch, craft-beer brands. NYC-grown Rise Brewing Co., with its Nitro Cold Brew Coffee in flavors like Blood Orange and Lemonade, is one to keep an eye out for next time you need a pick-me-up.
This year, exhibitors big and small across all categories continued to level up on transparency, bringing free-from labels to the forefront while focusing on natural ways to deliver the tastes consumers want with ingredients they recognize.
Cheryl Weissman is a senior vice president in Allison+Partners' consumer practice, where she oversees the agency's food + beverage specialty.