By Denise Purcell, Editor of Specialty Food Magazine
Following is Denise Purcell’s editor’s letter, which first appeared in the recent May issue of Specialty Food Magazine. It highlights trends spotted at the recent sofi Awards Finalist competition, Part 1.
The start of the annual sofi ™ Awards competition is unfolding around me as I write this. All week, hundreds of boxes have been arriving at the NASFT offices, and thousands of products are being unpacked and carefully sorted by the core sofi team, led by Communications Director Louise Kramer. I’m passing shelves of products every time I head to the kitchen or supply room, which is providing me the ideal opportunity to take a front line peek at what all those submissions are saying about industry trends.
As I was getting started, Project Manager Marilyn O’Hara and Project Consultant Fran Curiazza, two members of the team who were opening and logging every entry, were happy to chime in with their own trend-spotting—lots of products with honey and figs. They are absolutely right. These, like many other themes I spotted on the shelves, are on target with larger industry trends that have been recently identified through NASFT and Mintel International.
In case you missed it, in March, NASFT co-hosted a webinar with Mintel that revealed several overarching trends, including those a panel of food journalists identified as the top trends at the Winter Fancy Food Show (you can read more under the March 2010 issue in Food Trends or visit specialtyfood’s Knowledge Center to download the webinar.)
Here, in no particular order, are several industry trends that are supported by what we’re seeing in sofi entries.
Grown-Up Treats: Savory and sweet snacks with sophisticated flavor profiles:
• Candied walnuts
• Curry or fig flavored crackers
• Prickly pear dried snacks
• Honey Roasted Ham and Cranberry potato chips
Simple Made Special: This is especially prevalent in nostalgic candies and treats such as toffee, caramels and marshmallows that are being updated:
• Marshmallows in flavors like Pistachio, Coffee and Toasted Coconut
• Sesame toffee
• Caramels in flavors like Carrot Cake
Good-for-You Foods: Healthful twists including gluten-free, sugar-free, high fiber and antioxidants:
• Baked lentil and falafel chips
• Gluten-free sugar cookie mix and brownie mix made with stevia
• Raspberry Rooibos chocolate
Latest Flavors: Many of these were spotted at the Fancy Food Show, by
the Food Trend panel as well as the editors of Specialty Food Magazine who tweeted from the Show floor at twitter.com/nasft. Coconut, bacon, maple, cherry, walnut, lime, honey—all hot. Here’s a sampling:
• Cherry Merlot Wine ice cream
• Coconut popcorn
• Maple Bacon pretzels
• Plantain chips with lime
• Salsa with cherry and peri-peri
• Carob seed honey from Morocco
• Walnut vinegar
The sofi Award submissions are telling us a lot already and at presstime packages were still arriving for the 31 categories in Part 1 of the competition. Like the rest of the trade, I’ll eagerly await what the full breadth of entries and judges’ picks ultimately reveal about the industry’s best foods and beverages.