Yesterday, a panel of experts identified four trends from the Winter Fancy Food Show I just attended in San Francisco: Sriracha, chips, low-sugar beverages, mint and condiments. I’ll definitely agree with #3 and #5. There are many fizzy and non-carbonated beverages I’ve never seen before on the show floor, and the condiments referred to are mostly comfort food classics with unexpected ingredients–truffle ketchup from Stonewall Kitchen being an example.
I like to look at trends through the goggles of a/what’s changed since the previous show and b/what attracts the most interest from show goers. Missing or rare this year: Hudson Valley Foie Gras (a huge local hit in past years since sale of the stuff was banned in California), the massive Cheeseworks showcase of small artisanal producers (this year there was less offbeat cheese in general), white anchovies, and the Atalanta serve-yourself antipasto bar (the guys across the aisle from DeLallio were still there, however). A big trend was charcuterie, all kinds of charcuterie, with my favorite (pictured) the selection from Au Délices des Bois. There were carving stations for Serrano and Parma ham all over the place and they all drew a line for these tasty salty morsels.
I ran across some amazing beef (from New Zealand, yet), rich eat-till-you-pop ice cream, a fascinating line of sauces and rubs and a couple of sprouted grain flour producers who will be the subject of future posts. But the best news is that the show was packed and the exhibitors I spoke with were elated at the number of visitors and level of interest. This show is a predictor of what will be on the shelves of Whole Foods and specialty retailers some months from now. It looks like customers are ready to pay for quality and the retailers are ready to give it to them, a good thing.