These could be the next big food and beverage trends

Business

The budding trends in food sound like a return to the diet of cavemen: Fish is the hottest protein, honey is the flavor du jour and game meat is an upgrade to charcuterie boards.

That’s according to the hundreds of items on display at the Summer Fancy Food Show, a trade show hosted by the Specialty Food Association that has gained a reputation as a place to spot the next big flavors, foods and drinks that will dominate menus and grocery store shelves. The annual show returned to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York this week, running Sunday through Tuesday.

More than 2,400 companies exhibited their foods and drinks for attendees, which include restaurant operators, specialty food retailers and trendspotters. Past show trends that are making their way to mainstream consumers’ palettes include yuzu, mushrooms and sophisticated alcohol substitutes.

Previous shows have also been a springboard for small brands seeking a wider audience. Honest Tea, Ben & Jerry’s and Tate’s Bake Shop are among the companies that attended the show in their early days on their way to becoming well-known consumer brands now owned by the industry’s biggest players.

Here are some highlights from this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show:

Honey — as a flavor

Owl Creek Organics & Natural Products’ lineup of honey spreads at the Summer Fancy Foods Show
Amelia Lucas | CNBC

Humans have been eating honey for thousands of years, but it’s taking center stage as a flavor with some food and beverage makers. In the SFA’s preliminary report on the show, its trendspotters called out honey, noting its health benefits.

Honey was the star in both foods and drinks across the show. Green Bee showed off its honey soda, which includes a Honeycomb Cider flavor. Owl Creek Organics & Natural Flavors displayed honey spreads, with flavors ranging from caffe mocha to lemon poppyseed. And Dutch company Klepper & Klepper used honey as a flavor for their licorice.

Tinned fish

Krill Arctic Foods’ tinned krill meat
Amelia Lucas | CNBC

In years past, tinned fish was relegated primarily to booths in the Spanish and Portuguese pavilions. But this year, exhibitors showed off their tinned fish products across the show floor.

TikTok helped fuel the tinned fish trend last year, boosting sales of canned sardines. Now specialty food companies are responding.

This isn’t the canned tuna of yore. There are more flavors, different seafood varieties and trendier packaging. Wildfish Cannery, an Alaska-based company that was founded in 1987, showed off a new retro design for its sockeye salmon, giving it a more upscale feel. Krill Arctic Foods exhibited its canned krill meat, which may lack the same curb appeal on its packaging but boasts about the food’s nutritional profile.

Fish to go

Acme Smoked Fish’s Lox in a Box kits on display at the company’s booth
Amelia Lucas | CNBC

Exhibitors also showed off new ways to eat fish on the go, hoping to capitalize on consumers’ desire for convenience and more protein in their diets. The association named “satisfying snacks” as one of the trends that it’s been watching.

Acme Smoked Fish highlighted its new Lox in a Box snack kits, available with cream cheese or avocado. Legend of Master International, an Asian food supplier, sampled its Kani fish cake sticks, made to eat like string cheese or for cooking.

Upgraded charcuterie

Fossil Farms’ array of salami flavors, including lamb and bison
Amelia Lucas | CNBC

Like tinned fish, the popularity of charcuterie boards owes a lot to social media, where users can dazzle their followers with elaborate displays of preserved meats, cheeses and fruit.

Companies at the Summer Fancy Food Show showed off some new options to level up the charcuterie — especially the salami. Tempesta Artisan Salumi offered up black truffle-flavored salami, while Salt & Twine’s selection included a mezcal and salted lime flavor.

But exhibitors weren’t just having fun with the flavors. Some are looking beyond pork to make the cured meat. Driftless Provisions’ salami uses elk, venison and bison alongside pork. Fossil Farms’ salami lineup included lamb and wagyu beef.

Pairing snacks

Wine Chips’ Sel Gris-flavored chips are meant to be paired with sparkling wines
Amelia Lucas | CNBC

What’s a cocktail or glass of wine without a snack to go with it? Targeting consumers who need help finding the perfect pairing, both Wine Chips and The Drinks Bakery showed off their snacks, created to be eaten with specific alcoholic drinks.

The Drinks Bakery, a Scottish company, sells “drinks biscuits.” Its parmesan, toasted pine nuts and basil biscuits (called crackers in the U.S.) can be eaten with roughly 20 drinks, from a nonalcoholic lager to whisky highball.

Wine Chips, on the other hand, sells thick-cut potato cuts specifically made for snacking while sipping wine. For example, its Sel Gris flavor, named after the French sea salt, is made to be paired with any sparkling wine, like Champagne.

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