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6 Trends We Saw at the Fancy Food Show 2023

We perused over 2,200 vendors for everything from the best artisanal cheeses to the latest healthy snacks.
By and

Published July 3, 2023.

The Fancy Food Show, a biannual event put on by the Specialty Food Association, is a trade show open to specialty food businesses as well as buyers from stores looking for new products to carry and the press. 

Over 2,200 vendors from around the world gather to give out samples and chat about everything from their hottest new products (or SKUs, in industry speak) to their classic products with a cult following. 

We spent two days walking the summer show in New York City to see what trends are emerging in the specialty-food market—food that may be coming to a store near you. This is what we found:

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Trend #1: Upcycled Foods

Food upcycling, a practice that rescues ingredients that would otherwise end up being wasted, was all the rage at this year’s event. It was the first year they had a whole section dedicated to products that fall under this category. 

We tried a probiotic drink that upcycled whey, a byproduct of milk or yogurt production. There are also other types of certified upcycled food products, from tomato sauce to plantain chips. 

According to the Upcycled Food Association, a trade organization founded by a consortium of food manufacturers, a product needs to use at least 10 percent upcycled products in its supply chain to pass the certification. 

Can upcycling be the next big thing to combat food waste? Only time will tell as these products are still new to the market. But if you want to start now, maybe try composting first.

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Trend #2: Honey, Honey, Honey

For everything from baking to tea to pairing with cheeses, everyone should have a bottle of honey in their pantry. (We’re excited to tell you more about its multiple uses in an upcoming review.) 

At the show, there were countless varieties. Nearly everyone makes a chile pepperspiked hot honey. From Honey Blossom we tried avocado honey made with the blossoms of avocado trees, which had notes of molasses, and at the Savannah Bee Company we dolloped raw honeycomb on cheese and crackers.

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Trend #3: The Continued Growth of Nonalcoholic Drinks

We sipped just as much as we ate at the Fancy Food Show. Between August 2021 and August 2022, sales of nonalcoholic beverages increased 20.6 percent (see our reviews of NA spirits and cocktails and beer), and they aren’t slowing down. We tried an alcohol-free sparkling wine from TÖST and a summer sangria mocktail using spices from Curio Spice Co, just to name a few.

Companies that make traditionally nonalcoholic drinks are taking things up a notch too. Natalie’s, the maker of our favorite lemonade, debuted a line of “holistic juices” in flavors such as blood orange–ashwagandha and tomato-reishi. 

To try making your own nutritious beverages, check out The Complete Guide to Healthy Drinks.

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Trend #4: Chefs and Restaurants . . . in Your Home Kitchen

Rao’s makes our favorite jarred pasta sauce and is one of the original examples of a restaurant dish packaged for home cooks. Today, more restaurants are hopping on the bandwagon, especially in the pasta sauce arena. Carbone is one of the hardest reservations to get in NYC, and they now sell jarred pasta sauces. We even got to taste the brand new Spicy Vodka sauce, based on one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. 

We continue to see big-name chefs lending their names to products for the home cook. Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio was also demoing his own line of premium jarred sauces. They’re tomato based but meant to be paired with a wide range of dishes from seafood to vegetables, not just pasta. 

On the beverage side, Gloucester, Mass.-based Cometeer built a strong argument for instant coffee, a category that used to have a bad rap. Through collaboration with industry-leading coffee roasters such as Counter Culture and Joe Coffee, Cometeer amassed a cult following. It delivers promising results that enable users to get a café-quality cup of coffee at home.

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Trend #5: Improved Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables

Dehydrated foods have come a long way. In the past, people mostly associated dehydrated foods with military rations and backpacking meals, which were more for convenience than for flavor or texture. Or, it was food that was dry, chewy, and void of flavor.

As technology advances, dehydrated whole fruits and vegetables that retain their flavors and nutrients have become not only possible but also delicious. 

The technology involves instantly freezing fresh fruits and vegetables in a vacuum chamber and “freeze-baking” them to rid them of moisture. Some of the dehydrated snacks had a more concentrated flavor compared to their fresh counterparts, such as the shiitake mushroom chips. 

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Trend #6: Fancier Plant-Based Proteins

As demand grows, plant-based protein and meat alternatives are here to stay. This year, vendors are proving that only the skys the limit when it comes to mimicking conventional meat products. 

We tried a plant-based foie gras that came in two flavors; though the original flavor product didn’t stand out as much, the truffle-flavored one was delightful and had a creamy, rich texture. 

A company called HavePlant brought a lineup of plant-based luncheon meat (similar to SPAM), pork belly, cured bacon, beef jerky, and canned tuna; each product drew positive feedback from show-goers. 

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