Summer Fancy Food Show in New York

Summer Fancy Food Show in New York

The Summer Fancy Food show, staged by the Specialty Food Association, was held at the Javits Center in New York this week (28-30 June). With consumer interest in premium and speciality foods at an all time high in the US, the largest speciality food show in North America attracted – as you might expect – a considerable amount of interest.

This year's event welcomed more than 2,500 exhibitors pedalling more than 180,000 products to the 25,000 trade buyers in attendance, the organisers said.

Given the ongoing decline of legacy brands – who have now seen five straight years of market share decreases in the US according to Deloitte – it is easy to see why so much attention is focused on "speciality" categories, which are becoming mainstream.

Deloitte's annual American Pantry Study found that three in four legacy brands show decline in "must have" status, while store brands are increasingly viewed as a "sacrifice" as the economy improves. So, who is gaining? It would appear that the chief beneficiaries have been makers of premium, natural, healthy, convenient, craft products.

Deloitte found that US consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for products perceived as offering health and convenience, with 86% of consumers seeking out these product attributes and 25% saying they would pay a premium of 10% or more. The survey concluded about 25% of consumers are also willing to pay 10% or more for a new or innovative product.

The big CPG firms have become painfully aware of these trends as their sales have suffered. As a result, we have seen a flurry of innovation and M&A in this area over the past 12 months. Here is a statistic from the Deloitte survey that could well give legacy brand managers sleepless nights: 33% - one third of consumers - would pay more for a craft version. This leaning clearly favours smaller manufacturers who offer an "authentic" product and story.

What better place to be on the look out for healthy, innovative craft products than the Summer Fancy Food Show? Here is our top ten pick of some of the most innovative or on-trend products on display this year.

Fat Toad Farm, goat milk caramels

If you are looking for premium craft products, look no further than Far Toad Farm. The company produces its caramel sauces using goat milk from its own herd. Each batch is hand-stirred in a process that uses copper kettles. "Rich and creamy, our not-too-sweet caramel sauces deliver the unmistakably tangy depth of your favourite chèvre balanced with the simplicity of fresh milk and pure cane sugar. In the true spirit of farmsteading, we exclusively use milk from our own goats, and personally shepherd each ounce of caramel from grass, to goat, to jar, and into your hands," the company says. Coupled with a quirky brand identity and high level of personalisation, it is easy to see why Fat Toad Farm was named a winner of the Sofi award for outstanding new product.

New England Natural Bakers, organic granola clusters

New England Natural Bakers hit on almost every hot US consumer trend with its organic granola clusters, an addition to the Organic Select line. The products are organic, non-GMO verified, high in protein, gluten-free, premium, on-the-go snacks. "We are happy to present these exciting new products, extending our line of the successful Organic Select Granola with offerings that capture emerging industry trends and address functionality," says director of brand sales and marketing, Larry Cornick. The employee owned enterprise said that the new launches mark the beginning of an "aggressive" strategy to increase brand presence.

Victoria Fine Foods, Victoria Organic, Victoria Vegan

Victoria Fine Foods, a premium slow kettle cooked pasta sauce manufacturer, showcased its Victoria Organic and Victoria Vegan ranges at the Summer Fancy Food show. Demand in the US for organic products is on the rise, reflecting growing concerns over the mass agriculture system and issues such as GMO-ingredients. At the same time, a rising number of consumers are opting out of eating meat or working to reduce the amount of meat in their diets. All of the group's vegan sauces have been certified GMO-free since 2012. Victoria Fine Foods products cater to both of these trends, as well as growing demand for convenient yet premium culinary products. According to chief strategy officer Don Davide, the main things that differentiates Victoria sauces from national brands are its "home-style" cooking techniques and focus on quality ingredients. "For the past 85 years, Victoria has been making their pasta sauces the way you would at home: with fresh vegetables, premium ingredients and a slow cooking process. Victoria is proud to be the first major pasta sauce brand to put our ingredients on the front of our package - it's not just a location, it's a philosophy."

Explore Asian, gluten-free pasta

Vegan and organic food company Explore Asian showcased its gluten-free pasta at this year's show – the first time the company has attended the event. Explore Asian's bean-based pastas are both gluten-free and high protein. The company was also exhibiting soybean noodle soups and organic wheat noodle. Demand for alternatives to conventionally produced pastas and noodles is on the rise, be it from consumers looking for gluten-free options or those seeking out products that are more nutritious or offer different flavour and texture profiles. Explore Asian's offering offers an interesting take on this pantry stable.

POP! Gourmet Foods, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Ketchup

In an environment where consumers are increasingly seeking out spicy, bold and exciting flavours sriracha is flavour of the month. You might be forgiven for thinking its everywhere – even Heinz brought out a ketchup. This does not mean that the boat has sailed for smaller niche manufacturers as there is still plenty of demand for a premium alternative. POP! Gourmet Foods has teamed up with Huy Fong's Sriracha and Red Gold Tomato Ketchup to create a ketchup blend that, it says, is an "authentic" spicy ketchup alternative. The new Original Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Ketchup is gluten-free and features sun-ripened red chilli peppers, garlic and tomato ketchup. According to David Israel, POP! CEO, the ketchup is in such demand that it sold out before it entered production, with the initial run being picked up by seven national retailers. POP also manufactures Original Sriracha chips and popcorn under licence from Huy Fong and the company plans to rollout other condiments, such as mayonnaise, humus and croutons.

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, 72% cacao dark chocolate with raspberries & sea salted almonds

Artisan chocolate group Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker debuted its 72% cacao dark chocolate with raspberries & sea salted almonds in New York. The bar, made from Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa, appeals to the ever more sophisticated tastes of US chocolate consumers. It combines dark chocolate with tart raspberries and crunchy, salty almonds. "Each of our chocolate bars is designed for chocolate lovers to fully appreciate the flavour and texture of our outstanding chocolate," says vice president Bernie Banas. "The Raspberry & Almond bar is the first fruit infused bar in our lineup, which adds new depth to the incredible complexities of this fine cacao." The product joins Scharffen Berger's other products, such as dark chocolate with sea salted pistachios, milk chocolate with toasted coconut & macadamia; and milk chocolate with sea salted almonds.

Kaldes Brothers Trading Company, spice rubs

Kaldes Brothers Trading Company offers fresh, simple ingredients, exciting flavours and convenience through its individually packaged Greek-inspired spice rubs. The blends are available in three- and five-packs of individually wrapped, single-use servings. This, the company says, delivers "maximum freshness" as well as the convenience of a pre-portioned blend. "Consumer trends toward clean labels and clean eating continue to grow," says Kaldi co-founder Peter Kaldes. "The increase of Kaldi products on grocery shelves is evidence that retailers recognize that trend, and are meeting their customers’ hunger for accessible, delicious Greek products." The rubs are available in three varieties: skordato (Garlic, Rosemary & Black Pepper), kefte (Mint, Cumin & Parsley) and lemonato (Rosemary, Paprika & Lemon). Each retail for a suggested US$4.99.

Lone Mountain Wagu, Summer Sausage

Lone Mountain Wagu's Summer Sausage is made from DNA-Certified 100% wagu beef. The super-premium all-natural sausage is made from a blend of cuts including fillet mignon, sirloin, ribeye, and brisket. The product is gluten and casein free with no added preservatives, nitrates, or nitrites or pork casin and the wagu beef is reared without the use of hormones or antibiotics. The sausage taps into growing concern about what goes into meat in the US as the debate rages about the use of antibiotics in animal rearing. Lone Mountain also showcased its wagu jerky and sausage links at the show. Griff Foxley, the COO of Lone Mountain Wagyu, comments: "We are a small, family run company and there is a lot of heart behind everything we create. These are our first retail products and we are thrilled with the response they have gotten." The Summer Sausage won the 2015 Sofi Award for best appetiser, antipasto, or hors d’oeuvres

Watusee Foods, Organic Chickpeatos

Snacking is on the rise in the US as consumers shift how and when they eat. As a result, a growing number are looking for new, innovative and healthy snacking alternatives – such as legume-based snacks. Watusee Foods' Organic Chickpeatos feed into these trends as well as meeting rising demand for organically produced foods. Chickpeatos are a crispy chickpea snack roasted in olive or coconut oil and available in four flavours: tomato basil, spicy cayenne, cinnamon toast and Greek yoghurt.

Granny Pearl’s Kitchen, bite-size cookies

Granny Pearl’s Kitchen aims to tap into what it terms the "tiny treat trend" - as consumers look to indulge in portion controlled ways. The upscale comfort food is locally sourced and aims to attract shoppers concerned about healthy eating – but who still want to indulge. Founder John Shackelford says that the firm's cookies are inspired by his grandmothers recipes. The cookies are available in larger resealable packs or as "Pocket Tidbits" which cater to those looking for an on-the-go snack or lunchbox filler.