While the exhibitors at this year's Summer Fancy Food Show had reason to celebrate after making it into one of the largest showcases of specialty foods in the world, they still faced a daunting problem. With 2,400 vendors peddling their wares at New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center last week, how could one business stand out among all the coconut jams, blood orange vinegars, and charcuteries?
The companies that nabbed the show's coveted awards were ones who anticipated changing customer needs and deftly twisted them to fit their own brand. Below are some of the business trends making their way around the trade show floor.
1. Going GMO-Free
Despite repeated claims from scientists that genetically modified organisms aren't harmful, companies are still rushing to make sure that their food is GMO-free certified. One business riding the wave of GMO-free popularity is Brooklyn-based Victoria Fine Foods. The company has always carried GMO-free pasta sauces but moved to get all of its products certified as GMO-free this year due to customer demand. "It's been an emerging trend for the last 20 years, but now its really got the attention of everyone," says Don Davide, Victoria's chief strategy officer.
2. Bucking Labeling Trends
While gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free may be popular among dieters, doctors warn that many of these foods lack essential vitamins and minerals. Cue food companies promoting their "real" food with "real" ingredients. For example, sauce maker True Made Foods touts the butternut squash, carrots, and spinach contained in its ketchup. "People keep taking nutrients out of their food. We need to put them back in," says Abraham Kamarack, the company's co-founder.
3. Specialty Chips
Sweet potato chips are so last year. Some of the more outlandish offerings at this year's Fancy Food Show included sweet corn, bean, and broccoli chips that offer the potato crunch in a healthier package. Another entrant in this space, Pasta Chips, came about when founder Jerry Bello noticed restaurants in Italy serving leftover pasta strands as baked chips sprinkled with olive oil and salt. The company says that Pasta Chips have up to 20 percent less fat than some brands of pita chips.