Each year, the Winter Fancy Food Show draws hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees to explore innovations in the food industry. The 2023 show marked the 47th year of the event, held in mid-January in Las Vegas, and the offerings didn’t disappoint.
If you couldn’t make it but are curious about what trends are currently on the rise, here are a few interesting ideas food manufacturers and restaurateurs will surely want to explore.
Nostalgia with an Adult Twist
Many brands are incorporating the strong, emotional pull of nostalgia into their latest offerings by putting a decidedly adult spin on classics. Think mac and cheese in a plant-based format, alcoholic Dippin’ Dots, and R-rated fortune cookies.
Snacks like tortilla chips can be transformed into entrées like nachos, so why can’t entrées become snacks? They can! Recent additions to the snacking world include golden curry mochi, fettuccine snack bites in lemon and grape, spring vegetable crisps, cookies shaped like burger patties filled with chocolate, and more.
Sustainability has become a way of life for many consumers, and food manufacturers at every level are taking note. The current trend lies in earth-friendly ingredients like seaweed and kelp that quickly regenerate when harvested. Kelp Chili Crisp from Barnacle Foods and Red Pesto with Nori Seaweed from Algamar are prime examples.
Busy mornings don’t leave a lot of time to prep and cook a full breakfast, but products that offer time-saving hacks are putting heartier meals back on the menu for modern consumers.
Squeezable pancake mix (just add water) from Happy Grub cuts out a lot of measuring and mixing. Pre-made breakfasts like omelet bites and skillets that only require heating are also gaining popularity, as are plant-based alternatives.
Fun Foods for Adventurers
There’s no shortage of bars and MRE kits for nature lovers — but hikers, campers, hunters, and adventurers of every stripe are in for some upgrades. Hunters Seasoning from Sutter Buttes Olive Oil Company was created for wild meats, while Field Trip Snacks offers a range of fun jerky and pork rind flavors, from mandarin orange to cinnamon churro.
Savory sauces and seasoning are all the rage of late, with a slew of modern flavor profiles hitting the market. Lemon pepper parmesan olive oil, Dangold’s Pizza Palooza spice blend, street taco–flavored peanuts, and IPA chili craft spice blends are just a few oddballs making waves.
Tikka masala is a particularly popular flavor this year, and it’s seasoning everything from ham and steak to olive oil and hot sauce.
In fact, many classic savory flavors are being introduced in many unusual ways: Think masala burger seasoning (a flavor from Indian cuisine paired with beef, which Hindus do not consume), powdered soy sauce, and Slawsa (a combo of coleslaw and salsa).
America’s ongoing love affair with boba is nothing new, but emerging additions to the market include a range of innovative, ready-made toppings and kits. Basil seed drinks and toppings like rainbow jelly, lychee stars, and strawberry hearts are among the most notable.
In other drink news, dry spirits may become the new go-to adult beverage. Designed for inclusivity, tasty bevs from brands like Abstinence Spirits, Solbrü, Mixoloshe, and Seraphim offer mass appeal, not to mention features like low calories and functional ingredients.
Classic comfort foods can take hours to prepare, which may be why so many brands offer convenient options that save time and deliver culinary upgrades. Organic ramen and risotto kits are quick, easy, and satisfying, as are Indian spice starter kits, bubble tea kits, and more.
Whatever corner of the industry you’re in, understanding current trends can help you keep a finger on the pulse of consumer demand. With a focus on sustainability, nostalgia, comfort, and innovative updates to classics, there are plenty of options to explore in 2023.
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