Want more? Don’t miss our list of the 10 best things we ate during the Summer Fancy Food Show.
This year’s Summer Fancy Food Show started out much like it always does, with the Starbucks line undulating through the Javits Center in New York City—salespeople in suits, tourists with rain jackets tied around their waists, and me—all waiting for gallon-sized cups of coffee to fuel us through a long day of eating, drinking, and chatting.
If the trends at this year’s show say anything about Americans, it seems we hate gluten, love chips (but feel like we should be eating vegetables), and will soon pave our roads with quinoa. Here are the top five trends we saw:
1. The biggest trend (again): gluten-free
The gluten-free frenzy has been heating up for the past five years or so, and it seems to have reached a fever pitch with everyone—from mom-and-pop shops trying to perfect wheat-free cookies, to large companies expanding their lines to include GF offerings. The words “gluten-free” were slapped on seemingly every product, from breads and cheeses to smoked salmon and yogurt.
2. The little Andean seed that could
The United Nations declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa, and it was everywhere at the show. I saw heirloom black quinoa, red, white, sprouted and rainbow, quinoa granola, quinoa chocolate chip cookies, and quinoa pasta. According to Peru’s Department of Agriculture, the country exported $1.7 billion worth of quinoa in 2007, but by the end of 2011 that number had ballooned to $22.3 billion.
3. Healthy snacks
Quinoa wasn’t the only health food appearing in snacks. I saw chips with a healthy twist, incorporating ingredients like tomatoes, mango, sweet potatoes, broccoli, papaya, black beans, chickpeas, and more. One brand, Beanitos, was especially good with chips made from black, white, and pinto beans in flavors like nacho and chipotle barbecue that have all the crunch and flavor of Doritos—without the mile-long ingredient list.
4. Mezcal mania
Mezcal is booming as American drinkers warm to the smoky cousin of tequila. Two years ago at the show, our team saw one mezcal booth; this year there were at least six. Fun facts I learned from the guys at Los Siete Misterios: Mezcal is made from a kind of agave plant that takes 8-15 years to grow. Agave is a succulent and can weight over 300 pounds per plant, each of which yields 5-15 bottles of mezcal.
5. Drink to your health
Natural and artisan drinks had a strong showing at the show. Coconut water had a huge presence. We also spotted a vinegar-based simple syrup that you add to water (Pok Pok Som, from Portland, Ore.), organic energy drinks, mineral water, vegetable teas, as well as artisan tonic and seltzer water.
What do you think about these food trends? Are there types of foods you hope to see in the future? Let us know in the comments.