With thousands of products on display, it isn’t easy to narrow it down to a few trends but here are a few that stood out for me.
Cheese and charcuterie exhibitors were dominant with nearly a full floor in one of the main halls. It was impossible to taste so many amazingly rich and flavorful products but they included the influence of cuisines from around the world as well as those made with traditional bases and plant-based ones. There did seem to be a number of cheeses touting non-melting characteristics in order to make them perfect for pan frying.
Craft chocolatiers from bean source countries were selling their own retail labels. We’ve heard a lot about single source chocolates but it was exciting to see entrepreneurs from these source countries now creating their own products – rather than simply selling the beans to European and American chocolate brands. There were products from Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, Dominican Republic and Philippines with beautiful labels and interesting flavors. Many of these small companies were committed to ensuring local growers and workers received a living wage too.
Sugar and fat are alive and well when it comes to indulgent desserts.
Several companies selling the tapioca-based treats that define bobo teas seemed new to the show. Brightly colored and sweet, still packaged for foodservice, but guessing that retail packs are likely next.
Desserts using coconut oil and milk were prevalent - lusciously creamy while being plant-based.
Gelatys Handcrafted Gelato Pops (www.gelatys.com ) offered a visually indulgent and tempting new frozen dessert. Each pop had its own shape and came in interesting flavors such as the Chocotella Paw.
Minnesota-based Grlk Lebanese Garlic Spread (www.grlksauce.com ), a simple condiment made from his grandmother’s recipe, was the foundation for a greater 5-flavor fusion line. The convenient squeeze bottle makes it easy to use as a condiment, cooking aid or dip.
Canada-based Nuba Tisane has a line of Egyptian-inspired hibiscus flavors in multi-serve bottles. In addition to the base line shown, they have recently updated graphics and added three additional flavors – tamarind, carob and doum (a palm native to upper Egypt and revered for its medicinal properties).
Mr. Bing Chili Crisp Sauce was a product inspired from northern Chinese street food crepes called ‘bings.’ Launching several retail restaurants in NYC and Brooklyn, the sauce is a key part of the deliciousness of the crepes so they decided to make the sauce available to home cooks. This NYC-made sauce was tasty, versatile and is made with no MSG. It would be a big hit at my house and I look forward to finding it my local store. I just wished it came in a squeeze bottle.
Joanne Haase is the Principal of the Haase Consulting Group, a strategy and research consultancy focused on consumer products. www.HCGMarketScope.com