At the end of June I had the pleasure of attending the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. It was three days of chatting with hundreds of people in the food industry, walking hundreds of miles and eating all the cheese and chocolate in North America. And I'm barely exaggerating. But more important than eating all the things was learning about upcoming food trends, what's going to be popular, written about and stocked in stores.
01 of 04
The Fancy Food Show at the Javitz Center in New York
The show is put on by the Specialty Food Association, whose goal is to define the industry, create a community of producers, develop entrepreneurial talent, advocate for their members and understand their needs.
The 2016 summer show was the biggest one since the start in 1954 and it featured over 2,670 exhibitors from over 55 countries. It was attended by over 47,000 food professionals including grocery buyers and food media.
And while I was not kidding about the massive quantity of food brought... into the show so that people can discover new products, the association also emphasized charity. At the end of the show, exhibitors donated six tractor trailers (over 100,000 pounds) full of food to City Harvest.
02 of 04
So, what's going to be trendy and what will we see on store shelves in the coming months? According to several sources, Middle Eastern foods, flavors and ingredients are going to be hot and, naturally, that's music to my ears.
The already massive snack category is going to become even more massive with the addition of alternative chips. Kale chips are still popular but more and more the chips are being made with pulse crops. That means chickpeas in the form of both chickpea flour in... tortilla style chips (many labeled as hummus or falafel chips) and lots of actual roasted and flavored chickpeas marketed as healthier snack alternatives.
03 of 04
Every Flavor Hummus
I'm not saying that America's love affair with salsa and guacamole is waning but her eyes are definitely roving. Hummus, once only well known in the larger cities, is becoming a thing in all large groceries including ones with massive, nationwide distribution.
Furthermore, the flavor range that's commercially available is going to expand rapidly. So, typically homemade flavor combinations like beet hummus and roasted red pepper hummus will now be found on grocery store shelves. There... was also talk of dessert hummus but I'm going to pretend I didn't heart that for now.
04 of 04
Za'atar All the Things
The favorite spice blend of the Middle East is about to get much more global as more existing spice makers add za'atar and other typical Middle Eastern spices to their lines. In addition, smaller spice companies are entering the market with more unusual and ethnic flavors.