By Margaret Core, Vice President, Marketing & Industry Relations & Julie Pryor, Director, Emerging Brands, Food Marketing Institute

Earlier this month our team traveled to New York to staff the FMI and SQF food safety attendee information area at the Fancy Food Summer Show. We were excited to talk to companies who might be a good fit in the new FMI Emerge program, a subscription-based service for brands seeking sustainable retail sales growth. The Fundamentals Programs for Food Manufacturing and Primary Producers was also news from our shop. Here is what we experienced:

We Met the Farmers!

With all the emphasis of being both global and local, we were excited to see a trend ofFarmer at Fancy Foods the actual farmer—agricultural entrepreneurs—staffing booths. It was great to talk to the farmers and get to know the ins-and-outs of what they’re doing and how they developed their products. I learned the best way to support farmer’s work is to ask questions. For instance, if you’re buying mushrooms from a farm, ask what other crops they had to plant in order to do so. You might just discover something new (and delicious) in the process.

One such farmer we met was Greg Johnsman from Geechie Boy Mills. In their Endisto Island, SC, farm, the Johnsman’s operate historic working mills, creating grits used in the country’s finest restaurants, including James Beard award-winning chefs in nearby Charleston and around the nation. On a three-acre garden next to their market, they grow a variety of heirloom vegetables and specialty crops at the request of chefs.

Another booth with passionate people was the folks at Glean who have worked in food and agriculture most of their careers - specifically with one of the world’s greatest super-foods - sweet potatoes! We loved their shelf-ready product of cubed sweet potatoes, pumpkins and beets that can be used in salads, over granola, smoothies, pancakes, deviled eggs and more.

Plant-Based Products, Filipino Cuisine, Cauliflower Products and Tea Infused Products

We once again took a look at the Specialty Food Association (SFA) Show Daily Day 1 publication for the trends spotter article to see what product focus Denise Purcell was pointing us to at the show. Similar to the San Francisco show, the article indicated Filipino cuisine, cauliflower products, tea infused products on the trends list. The Filipino cuisine is more because it’s the hottest new restaurant category as we did not see too many products showcasing Filipino per se, but there was certainly a lot of interesting Asian influences. SFA also highlighted their new 2018 State of the Fancy Food Industry with emphasis on disruption in retail channels, distribution and consumer channels. We took a photo of the session highlights.

State of the Specialty Food Industry

The most interesting cauliflower product we saw was one connected to ready-to-go meal from Kitchen and Love (also known as Cucina and Amore). The tea-infused trend is where the tea makers use tea ingredients in snacks, treats, condiments and sauces. We did try the Tea Squares where the black-tea infused snack bars provide a caffeine boost. The tea trend is also connected to the focus on using the whole plant (root to stem) in food products.

Califlower Quick MealWe did certainly find the focus on fresh, plant-based few ingredients (5 or less) using mushrooms, alternative sweeteners like dates, honey, which is right in sync with FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends findings and the SmartLabel® initiative.

The Washington Post did a super summary of the Top 10 Trends Found at the Fancy Food Show. Ayurvedic food, canned fish salads, drinking vinegars, flavored ghee, quinoa (where you least expect it), moringa, boozy kombucha and more.

It was great to finally meet Max Goldberg of the Organic Insider and see his follow up of the Top 5 Organic Food Products of the Fancy Food Show which include plant-based products like Ginjan Ginger Juice and Wildy Organic Coconut Milk Powder.

Here are just a few of the other products that we found at the show:

See our photos