Skip to main content

Fancy Food Show Update: Sophistication reigns


NEW YORK Fancy food is getting more sophisticated in incorporating trends, developing new flavor profiles and building on perceptions about ingredients, particularly all-natural and organic. The proof was at the Fancy Food Show, held this week at New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center.

Gourmet tea has been growing in popularity, and, to keep the momentum going, Numi introduced a relatively unknown variety, puerh, at the show in two flavors, including chocolate. While puerh is a variety that isn’t well known in the United States, and, therefore, is likely to attract the attention of early adopting consumers, many gourmet tea producers have turned to plantation and regional teas to give their products an edge, as Stash has done in introducing three new oolong teas hailing from China’s Wuyi mountains in white peach, chocolate mint and coconut mango.

Of course, authenticity is a critical trend today, and the United Kingdom’s Wyke Farms has entered the United States with a range of gourmet cheddar cheese and butter that builds off its tradition of independent operations and 100 years of family ownership. Speaking of family, Collier’s of Wales, is offering its cheddar cheese, the company’s only product, in a package that signals its strong character with the image of a Welsh coal miner. The image comes from a photo of company representative Chris Swire’s grandfather.

Among soft drink makers new flavors and another kind of sensation were featured together in Pop, a Japanese drink introduced to provide American kids with fruit flavors and the thrill of driving the stopper into the drink with a loud, you guessed it, pop! On the other side of the sensation spectrum, Vignette Wine Country Soda offered fruit flavors of its own, only these are the lightly sweetened tastes of California varietals wine grapes in a decidedly adult-oriented product.

New flavor sensations are important throughout the range of gourmet products. One of the few produce companies represented at the show, Melissa’s, featured its mangosteen fruit at its booth, one that made a Good Morning America feature about developments at the Fancy Food Show. On the grocery side, Fortis & Son’s featured organic dolmas, or stuffed grape leaves, in cans. And in frozen products, Fortis & Sons offered Organic Cheese Pitza, with a pita crust. New variations on frozen pizza at the Fancy Food Show also included Oliver Street Table’s French Pastry Pizza, which boasted all natural vegetarian ingredients sourced, produced and packaged based on local resources in California.

In the salty snack category, new kinds of products are arriving that emerge from the internationalization of American cuisine and with the suggestion that they might be healthier than traditional potato chips thrown in. Thus, Plocky’s introduced hummus chips, made with, besides chickpeas, olive oil and, the company points out, without gluten.

Of course, today, what goes into edibles offered in one part of the world often is derived from food grown or processed in another, particularly if that other has a cachet that might make it popular with consumers. Exotic ingredients are increasingly popular with consumers who are attracted by novel flavors. Thus, pomegranate, goji and acai all have become popular flavor elements in a variety of food. In some cases, the element of sustainability is added to taste and wellness as in the case of Damazonia, a line of chocolates that are filled with fruits that grow in the Amazon region, including acai.

Wellness elements are increasingly critical to getting snack products noticed and, hence, Manhattan chocolates added to its line of dairy free dark chocolates by producing milk chocolates that are formulated with rice milk.

All-natural and organic items are incorporating a range of trends to make them more appealing to consumers who have a range of wellness concerns on their minds. For example, Tom & Sally’s Handmade Chocolates featured the company’s Skinny Bars at the show. As the name indicates, the bars are thinner than the average candy bar providing a portion control factor in the single-serving organic Belgian chocolate product. In its ongoing and natural expansion, Green & Black, the organic chocolate line, introduced two new flavors at the show, Dark 85% and Cherry. Another, Toffee is due out in August.

Organic sweets made an impression at the show, as Go Naturally featured its new organic hard candy line and Yummy Earth’s Chili Mango Mambo lollipops flavor took a silver statue in the show awards.

Still, sometimes consumers who prefer organic and natural items are just out to have a good time, and, so, you have organic cachaca from Grup Fanco-Suissa. Cachaca is the main ingredient in the caipirina, a Brazilian drink many restaurants are beginning to feature as an extension of the tropical, but not slushy, drink craze begun by the mojito, so it isn’t surprising that the Brazilian pavilion, one of the many national pavilions featured at the show, also promoted Cachaca 21, a Silver Medal winner at the 2008 San Francisco Spirits Competition.

The most extensive offering of organic spirits came from, not surprisingly, The Organic Spirits Co., which offered scotch, gin, vodka and two kinds of rum. Among the offerings from the Craft Brewers of Bavaria consortium was Organic Bavarian Light from Lammsbau, a brewery that also featured, on the other end of the beer spectrum, an organic dunkel. The Craft Brewers of Bavaria is a group of medium sized brewers in Germany, comparable to U.S. microbrewers, who have come together to export a range of traditional, even historic beers through Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Schwelmer Beer Imports North America.

Organic production is being incorporated into a widening range of gourmet products, hence The Organic Smokehouse, which produces items including organic smoked salmon, cheese, chicken and sea salt.

Last but not least, some fancy foods are just for fun. Boston America Corp., featured a number of novel items at the show but few seemed to get as much attention as the Duff energy drink based conceptually if not formulaically based on Duff beer, a staple on The Simpsons television show. And why shouldn’t it be popular? As the slogan for the preferred brew of the Simpsons universe relates, You Can’t Get Enough of that Wonderful Duff.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds