Last week, thousands of companies and professionals gathered in New York to showcase, taste and judge the best specialty foods in the United States. Specialty food, an important and fast-growing sector of the food industry takes center stage at The Summer Fancy Food Show. The show is the largest specialty food industry event in North America, hosted by Specialty Food Association. This year’s show was held last month and, according to the host, was “The place to see and taste the future of food.”

With various awards ceremonies, product showcases, competitions and speakers, the event rounded-up all the specialty food trends of 2019. Here are the take-aways from the show floor that will keep your F&B on-trend, sophisticated and delicious.

  • Go beyond meat and animal produce. While a shift away from meat is nothing new, 2019 Business Leadership Award Winner Miyoko Schinner proves that a shift away from animal products is on the horizon. Schinner’s brand, Miyoko’s, is an example of how plant-based cheeses and butters are becoming more and more mainstream and the ‘tomorrow’ alluded to in her slogan, ‘tomorrow’s creamery’ is just around the corner.
  • Several companies have joined the mission to save ugly produce from becoming waste. Specialty Food Association included in a product round-up of trend specialties Diffenbach Kettle Cooked Uglies Potato Chips Jalapeño. These chips are made with ‘ugly’ potatoes or one’s that fail to meet the USDA’s cosmetic standards. San Francisco based Imperfect Produce is another example of an attempt to save ‘ugly’ (yet perfectly safe and delicious) produce by delivering boxes of it to customers at reduced prices.
  • As current food trends lean toward healthier options, we see an increase in alternatives to alcohol. This includes non-alcoholic spirits and drinks such as kombucha and non-alcoholic beer. Leading the charge in non-alcoholic spirits is Seedlip, a company set out to change the way the world drinks and introduce bespoke non-alcoholic drinking options. Just like Seedlip, kombucha producers across the globe are offering alcohol-free, healthy, interesting beverages. Kombucha sales are expected to rival craft beer sales in coming years.
  • Continuing with the health-conscious trend, consumers are looking to buy shelf-stable fresh food and probiotics. The huge probiotic movement that started a few years ago with kimchi and kombucha is alive and well, just like the bacteria going into new, shelf-stable products. Nutrition bars, granola, nut butters and other snacks are getting even healthier as several companies are adding probiotics to them to keep your gut—and hopefully your attendees—happy.
  • Superfoods have been touted as life-altering and earth-shattering products that will turn anyone into the health guru of their dreams. While that might be over the top, the extreme nutrient density of superfoods can be highly beneficial. The Specialty Food Association awarded Lisa Kurtis of Kuli Kuli the Citizenship Leadership Award 2019. Kuli Kuli makes moringa, a super leafy green, available in smoothie mixes, power bars, teas, shots and powder form. Kurtis says taking moringa powder every morning has helped return her energy and vigor; and it’s caffeine free. While superfoods might not change everyone’s life, I am sure attendees will welcome a little energy boost in their morning smoothie or mid-afternoon power bar.
  • The sofi Awards recognize the best and most innovative products from 37 categories. This year, Specialty Food Association found four flavor and ingredient trends among the 100+ products recognized in the 2019 sofi Awards. These flavors include: rosemary, lavender, pink peppercorns and bourbon and rye. These ingredients were found in everything from rosemary root vegetable chips to lavender hemp chocolate bars, pink peppercorn sodas and bourbon washed cheeses, but the opportunities to incorporate these flavors into your menu are truly endless.