FFShow-2015_collage_819x306More than 15,000 food professionals met and mingled with 1,300 exhibitors who presented their wares at the San Francisco International Fancy Food Show, January 11-13, 2015. And what did they see?  What was new and trending?

Here are my impressions.

Paleo / Meat Proteins / Salumi – While there have always been many specialty meat exhibitors, this year, an abundance of meat snack products beckoned. The continuing interest in low carb, coupled with gluten free and the Paleo movement called to entrepreneurs who prepared an increasing variety of flavors.

Check out this Fortune magazine article for vindication. Hershey, yes, the chocolate company, just bought Krave Foods of Sonoma, CA. Krave is a wonderful venture story, with a company barely 5 years old, skyrockets in sales volume by tapping on quality natural ingredients. Significantly, it focused on developing meat snacks that met the requirements of Whole Foods.

Which gets me to the next trend, Really Great-Tasting Healthy Snacks. While jerky products are a cross-over meal/snack, consumers and now manufacturers, are raising the “taste bar” for traditional chips and dips from vegetable sources. I do confess to having the occasional snack, not that I’m an expert, but check out a couple from Flamous Brands, Falafel chips and also The Daily Crave from nearby Sacramento.

And don’t call them junk food, because more often now you will see Certified Organic and the new Non-GMO Project Verified.

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This poses challenges for a number of marketers, especially those with long ingredient lists.  Which is interesting too in that several exhibitors are making claims based on the brevity of their content statements. Furthermore, with so many healthier claims, this is the first year where I saw the the Fancy Food Show is tilting much more into the ‘natural turf’ of the Natural Product Expo, coming up in March in Anaheim.

Finally, a word on flavors. Many present and most still adhere to natural, and familiar fruits and vegetables. One outlier is the Turmeric movement, such as exemplified by Numi Tea’s new Turmeric teas. Often I receive offers from overseas producers of turmeric. Maybe it can address inflammation, liver health, indigestion or depression, but I never have liked whatever flavor there is to it. Almost flavor-less, but stains like crazy.  So, while I seen it as a trend, I am not eager to see it continue.

And what did you think of the Show?  Please feel free to phone me to discuss anything in your immediate food or beverage category.