On the Scene: Fancy Food Show, Day 2

LAS VEGAS – After the whirl and spectacle of Day 1, the Food Institute’s team found their footing on Day 2 of the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show with a little rest and a bit of technical troubleshooting. If Day 1 was the amuse-bouche, Day 2 was the main course for showgoers as foot traffic increased, bleary eyes became clear ones as the jet lag subsided, and the flavors, sounds, aromas, and trends tantalized, sizzled, wafted, and emerged – respectively – from the western entrance to the southern aisles of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Check out the Fancy Food Show Day 2 photo gallery here.

On The Food Institute stage and media center, Susan Choi began the day with an interview with Paco Underhill, author of How We Eat: The Brave New World of Food and Drink, before turning the coverage over to Sheree Williams in the BIPOC Pavilion, chatting with vendors from around the globe about challenges and opportunities in the contemporary food space. Reporting remotely, SFA VP of Talent and Culture Aki Cipriani then discussed SFA’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, leading up to a commemoration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the show floor. Next, Jonathan Deutsch joined the booth in the #TrendSpotter series, revealing what to look for in the year ahead. Ron Tanner explored the Italian Pavilion, David Lockwood joined the booth to share SFA market insights, and Jordan Wiklund explored functional juices in the Beverage Pavilion. Finally, SFA president Bill Lynch closed the live coverage with what’s new, what’s trending, and what to expect in the year(s) ahead as the Specialty Food Association continues to grow, foster its membership, have a voice in the robust, wild world of the food industry, and what projects and initiatives to expect from the diverse trade association.

If you’ve been here, you know – there’s something for everyone. Here are some more foods and trends that really intrigued some of The Food Institute staff:

Brittany Borer – The most notable aspect of the products at this year’s show was clean ingredients and short ingredient lists. Companies are really putting forth an effort to meet consumer interest with products that are better for you, better for the environment, and that taste great. My favorite product was Rare Hawaiian’s Organic Kiawe Honey. It’s so light & sweet with a distinctly unique taste; it’s like nature’s frosting! The Italian pavilion was just incredible. Atalanta really knows how to present an array of the finest products. The bread, meat, cheese, oil, wine, and sauce were all fantasticò! And better yet: many of them were non-GMO and otherwise had very clean labels.

#TrendWatch – As the team became more familiar with the show floor and its global array of vendors, spenders, and sizzling sample lenders, one factor about today’s food world became clear – we eat, consume, and live in the food multiverse. From frozen air-fried noodles to all-vegan, three-course packaged entrees, candied vegetables, chocolatey gnocchi, and more, collaborations of flavors, textures (and certainly licensors) abound. Here are a few examples of what we saw:

  • Caffeine-infused gum
  • Pomegranate collagen fruit leather
  • Candy- and cereal-smashed popcorn (see photo gallery)
  • Vegan caramels (see video)
  • Chili-infused honey
  • Plant-based cheese balls
  • Saffron-infused juices (see video)
  • Truffle-soaked cashews
  • Spicy candy (see video)

This is the bare minimum of we experienced in new and trending flavor profiles, and while some of this is old hat to veteran food industry professionals, the sheer volume of mashup foods and beverages spoke volumes about how far food tech has come in just a few short years – and how eager vendors and buyers are to stock their shelves and menus with market-friendly products for their home neighborhoods and communities.

The Food Institute team hit the ground running (toward prosciutto ‘n’ cheese) on Day 2. Look for more On the Scene coverage soon, and check out The Food Institute on LinkedIn and Instagram to keep up with all the action from Fancy Food 2023 and beyond. We’ll be posting more photo galleries, shorts, and reels, with some long-term follow-up to what we’ve discovered for tomorrow’s food industry. And we’ll see you at the summer Fancy Food show in June!