The 51st Summer Fancy Food Show, which started this past Sunday in New York City, is the place to spot eating trends before they happen.
The industry-only event displays 100,000 specialty food and beverage products to some 25,000 supermarket and gourmet food retailers – the ones making the decisions what will be on store shelves all over the world.
So what did we find at the giant Jacob Javits Convention Center? First, the trends:
Trend #1: Indulgence meets healthMany products are being reformulated — a “nutritional correction” if you will — to reduce fat, remove trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup in order to create a better nutritional profile. Many products are also touting their antioxidant content to jump on the latest research findings which show that foods that are rich in antioxidants can help prevent some cancers, heart disease and also slow the aging of our skin.
Trend #2: Back to natureWe counted over 250 new products that tout their organic, toxin-free or hormone-free heritage. In addition to delivering products that generally taste better, these brands tend to be better for the environment and better for our bodies.
Trend #3: Convenience comes to gourmetNo one seems to have time to cook any more, but with the global influences in cuisine and the rise of celebrity chefs, we all want to cook like Julia Child – but do it in under 20 minutes. Delicate flavors meet modern technology as the packaging and manufacturing processes introduce new products that cook up easily and in a matter of minutes while using fewer preservatives or artificial ingredients.
And now to some of the specific products. These items are due to be among those seen on our “Today Taste Test,” where Katie, Matt, Ann, Al and Alexis give us there thumbs up (or down):
Cabot Clothbound Cheddar CheeseMade one vat at a time from milk from one breed of cows (surprise #1 – it is purely Holstein milk!), the result is a very good, Old World-style cheddar. A special blend of cheese cultures gives an unpasteurized taste to this (surprise #2!) pasteurized, fresh milk cheddar. The downside? It’s expensive ($20 a pound).
T-BarsThe all natural T-Bar nutrition bar is a delicious whole-food Green Tea Bar that has been cold-processed, promoting optimum enzyme activity. Consisting of 100 percent raw, whole food ingredients, these vegan-friendly bars contain antioxidants from EGCG-rich Green tea leaves and brewer’s yeast which is comes from Japan's Sapporo beer distillery (don’t worry, it contains no alcohol). It’s rich with protein, natural cellulose, vitamin B, zinc, selenium, chromium and a total of 14 minerals and 9 essential amino acids. Price: $2.50 a bar.
Late July Organic Sandwich CrackersThe peanut butter for the peanut butter version of these crackers is made by roasting and grinding organically-grown Valencia peanuts. Then they spread it on their Organic Classic Rich Crackers, which are made with organic red winter wheat, and have a buttery, toasted flavor. Their Organic Cheddar Sandwich Crackers are made with aged organic cheddar cheese. The result is organic, trans fat-free and home-style. Price is $3.79 for a 6-ounce box.
Marius Morsels My Goodness CookiesFrench chocolate, sugar from Mauritius (an island between Africa and India), pecans, eggs, butter, flour. $1 a cookie, sold in various packages.
Lobster Wellington from Hancock Gourmet Lobster CompanyThe lobster is enveloped with a rich and creamy pate (made from lobster enhanced with herbs and spices) and then enclosed in a light flakey puff pastry. These are very easy to bake and serve. Each Wellington is 6 ounces and can be served as an appetizer or entrée. As might be expected, these are somewhat price (two portions are $38.50).
La Piana Risottos from Italian Foods Corp New from Italy are La Piana line of easy-to-prepare risottos. Made with carnaroli rice, you just add water and they are ready after 16 minutes of cooking. All-natural with no MSG. Choose from leek, squash, bell pepper or zucchini varieties. $5.99 to $6.99 for an 8.8-ounce package depending on variety.
Wild Planet Minimal-Mercury Albacore Tuna Caught and micro-cannery-produced in Oregon, Wild Planet’s minimal-mercury albacore tuna is produced from 9-to 12-pound fish that are only about three years old. Extensive testing protocol assures this to be the safest albacore available.
D'Artagnan RillettesRillettes are slow-cooked meat, shredded and seasoned for a spread that’s great for sandwiches or snacks. D’Artagnan’s all natural rillettes are made the old fashioned way, with only wild boar meat (raised humanely with no antibiotics or hormones), duck fat, aromatic vegetables and herbs. No fillers, coloring or gelatin are used. Sold in 7-ounce packages for $9 each.
Wild Fruitz Beverages Huckleberry/Blueberry juiceBlueberries are the richest in antioxidants of all fruits and this beverage wants to take advantage of the health benefits and decline in cola consumption. 100 percent natural sparkling juice beverage with a very subtle sweetness and an extremely mild tart berry finish. $1.59 per 8-ounce bottle.
Dave's Gourmet Adjustable Heat Hot SauceTouted as the world's first adjustable heat sauce, this is sold in special container that allows you to vary the spiciness of the sauce by turning the cap. The cap mixes the sauce from the two compartments of the bottle in different proportions. You can have a sauce that is barely spicy to one that is very zesty. Suggested price is $9.99
Phil Lempert is food editor of the “Today” show. He welcomes questions and comments, which can be sent to