5 US food trends that could be on their way to Britain

05 July 2023, 10:53 AM
  • We round up the biggest food trends spotted at North America’s largest speciality food show
5 US food trends that could be on their way to Britain

As readers of Speciality Food know, events and trade shows are fantastic destinations for finding foodie inspiration. Looking beyond our British borders can offer interesting insight on new ideas and flavours that could soon be making their way into the UK’s fine food sector.

With this in mind, we’ve kept a keen eye on the 67th edition of the Fancy Food Show, the biggest speciality food show in North America, which took place last week in New York City. With more than 2,000 companies showcasing their speciality food products (including a handful of British businesses), it proved to be a hotbed of innovation.

It’s encouraging to see sales of speciality food and drink on the rise in the US. The Specialty Food Association, which operates the show, said speciality food and beverage products now make up 22 percent of all food sales, up from less than 14 percent a decade ago, with sales reaching $207bn in 2023.

But what is hot off the production line and ready to wow customers?

Top trends from the Fancy Food Show 2023

1. A taste of Italy

Television trends often tend to influence food habits – just look at the recent rise of retro puddings here in the UK. In the States, the popularity of White Lotus has sparked a taste for quality Italian fare, from premium pastas to accessible, authentic ingredients from abroad. 

As Giada De Laurentiis, founder of Italian brand Giadzy, said in a keynote session, this trend was also helped by the pandemic: “We realised that people couldn’t go to their local, Italian market, or they couldn’t go to their local restaurant, or they couldn’t travel,” she said. “Covid really disrupted the market and had a lot more people looking for [products] online in a way they hadn’t before.”

Innovation is also happening in America’s Italian food sector, with organic pasta brand Sfoglini producing two new pasta shapes, quattrotini and vesuvio, that it was selling at the show.

2. Diversity of flavour

Flavours from beyond the country’s borders are gaining ground in the States. Exhibitors from Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and elsewhere were showcasing their products, from lentil-based dips to ever-popular bubble tea. 

The show also featured a Diversity Pavilion including BIPOC-founded companies. Aman Blana, founder of plant-based dip and spread business Growee Foods, was part of this area. They said their clean label products had a positive response from attendees, and they were pleased to have the opportunity to “bring the best of our cultures to grocery carts in America”. Indeed, one of the show’s winners for most innovative products was Mochidoki’s Vegan Passionfruit Mochi Ice Cream.

3. Thoughtful no and low alcohol

Alcohol-free beers and cocktail replacements were on the menu, according to the show’s trend-spotter panellists. Melanie Bartelme, associate director and global food analyst at Mintel, said consumers in the US are taking a ‘flexitarian’ approach to drinking alcohol. “Maybe they don’t want to have that second [alcoholic] drink, but they want to drink something that feels as special as getting a cocktail,” she said during the panel. “There has been growth in the thoughtfulness of this process and the way these beverages are being made.”

4. All natural

Americans are known for their sweet tooth, but is that changing? Trend-spotters also recognised more products were being sweetened naturally. They pointed to date-sweetened barbecue sauce or Maury’s Hive Tea, which includes granulated honey in its tea bags to give consumers the option to control the level of sweetness in their tea.

As Mintel’s Melanie told Bloomberg, the show also saw more brands moving away from keto and other diets, preferring a natural approach to health. The simpler the product, the better, consumers seem to be saying. Other notable products include Lakanto’s monk fruit sweetener and Lewis Road Creamery’s 10 Star Certified Salted Butter, which won product of the year at the show.

5. Weird, wild and wonderful

From cocktails made with Urbani Truffles’ truffle vanilla and hibiscus syrup to AI-created hot sauce called Chil-AI by Dave’s Gourmet, there were plenty of eye-catching products for showgoers to experience. Other notable mentions include Antarctic Krill Meat, which claims to be set to revolutionise the wellness industry with its protein-packed product, and ‘Whale Sperm Tortillas’ from Vegan Rob’s. The latter are the brainchild of snack creator Rob Ehrlich, who told Bloomberg consumers are becoming more focused on natural and decadent products, and he believes his crisps, which are flavoured with seasoning that includes vegan collagen, are just the thing. Whether they’ll find success across the pond is another story.

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