By Marisa Bucolo

Food trends, culinary innovation, and snack samples galore is the world of the Summer Fancy Food Show. Hosted every year by the Specialty Food Association, the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City brings together industry leaders and trendsetters to share their latest products and new ideas. Featuring snack and ingredient companies, country pavilions (Morocco was this year’s partner country!) and informative demonstrations, the Fancy Food Show is a perfect illustration of all things happening in the industry.

Discovering new products is a highlight of this show – from familiar brands’ new launches to foods entering the market for the first time. There were two floors worth of booths to explore, creating endless rows of exhibitors with so many products to share – drinks, snacks, sauces, meats, cheeses, and tons of international cuisine. Some of my favorite finds fell into the snack category. Pop Daddy Snacks featured their new “Thai Honey Curry” pretzel sticks at the show, the perfect combination of sweet and salty with a unique twist. Tochi, a new better-for-you snack company, showcased their Asian-Influenced popcorn flavors including “Salted Egg” and “Ube.” Both were subtly sweet with very full texture, and it was exciting to see how ube, a purple yam from the Philippines, has been trending this year in snack spaces.

My favorite thing about the Fancy Food Show is all the sampling – from pasta made by Italian chefs to the newest chip flavors and better-for-you snack concepts. It was exciting to try firsthand some of the flavors we have seen trending the past few years, including two standout products from South Africa. “Black Mamba‘s Chili Crunch” features flavors of cayenne pepper and honey, and Soweto Spice Company‘s “Chunkalaka” salsa, is inspired by the South African Chakalaka relish with red pepper, ginger, and curry. These sauces were bold and memorable, and great insight into global flavor profiles.

Another feature of this show were demonstrations and trend talks. The “Taste it Live!” demonstration featured a Moroccan chef making some of her favorite foods. A Preserved Lemon Chicken Tagine was the star of the show, with Zaalouk (cooked eggplant salad) and Tfaya (caramelized onion spread with honey and raisins) as the featured sides. The SFA Trendspotter Panel wrapped up the show with an overview of all the trending themes from exhibitors and a peek into 2024 trends. Mocktails, brown butter, alternative sweeteners (dates, anyone?) and alcoholic beverage flavors being used in snacking are all set to be the next big thing. I experienced first-hand what trends are shaping the industry while discovering some ideas that can inspire our work at LifeSpice.

The Summer Fancy Food show is the perfect place to learn about new trends across the industry through attending cooking demonstrations, learning from industry leaders, and tasting endless product samples. After walking the show, it became apparent there were a few trend categories that rose above the rest: