Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fancy Foods Show 2010 Recap

Handheld honey, sparkling tea, and spicy ketchup were just a few of the new food ideas that Justin and I saw at last year's Winter Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco. As food scientists and product developers, we are always looking for new ideas. But as seasoned veterans of food trade shows, we have learned the hard way how to be selective samplers. Using a process more rigorous than the American Idol auditions, only the most tempting and unusual foods are allowed the pleasure of gracing our palates.

We recently attended the 2010 Winter Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco and spent 4+ hours in search of novel ideas, curious combinations and intriguing foods. No photos are allowed so apologies for the poor quality of my secret shots.

Our Fancy Foods Favorites:

1. Honest Tea Kombucha
We're fans of this raw, live fermented tea when it's mixed with fruit juices to off-set the tartness. Honest Tea is taking on top kombucha brand GT Dave's Synergy and Kombucha drinks and it will be interesting to see if kombucha becomes more mainstream. The kombucha craze is in full force in the San Francisco Bay Area. Honest T's flavors include peach mango, berry hibiscus, and lemon ginger. We even tasted the new top secret flavor in the works: apple.

2. Annie Chun’s Mini Wontons and Korean “Goes with Anything” Sauce
These frozen mini- wontons are perfect for soups or appetizers because they are just one bite.

Add the Korean Go Chu Jang "Goes with Anything" sweet n' spicy sauce and it's a match!

3. Pasta Slim Noodles
These Pasta Slim "noodles" are made with konjac flour which is naturally high in fiber (glucomannan) and low in calories. Other similar noodles called shirataki noodles are on the market but can have off-flavors. Pasta slim advocates a better flavor as well as low calorie and gluten-free.

4. Savannah Bee Co. Grilling honey, Cheese honey, and Tea honey
We have a soft spot for these honeys because they are purposefully paired with foods. Maybe one honey doesn't fit all.

5. Oikos Pure Pleasure Greek-style yogurt with caramel or chocolate
This thick Greek-style yogurt with 0% fat has caramel or chocolate on the bottom for a guilt-less pleasure. We love the higher protein content from strained Greek style yogurt with a sweet indulgence.

6. Naan Pizza
There's a bit of spice when Indian naan meets Italian pizza. We thought this was a tasty twist on a classic pizza from the Tandoor Chef.

7. Silence Tea
Shhh. Peace and tranquility are at the heart of this new line of Silence Teas. With all of the energy drinks in the market, it was refreshing to find a beverage celebrating the art of slowing down. Another beverage, Slow Cow had a similar philosophy with the same active ingredient as Silence Tea, L-theanine, an amino acid.

8. Dave's Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Celebrate the butternut squash in pasta sauce, don't hide it. That's the philosophy behind the bright yellow pasta sauce also made with garlic, onions, and roasted red pepper from Dave's Gourmet. We already saw this on the shelf at our Costco.

9. Zócalo Heritage and Naturally Gluten-Free Flours
Leveraging the 35 species of corn, 2000 varieties of potatoes and 650 native species of fruit in Peru, Zócalo Gourmet offers naturally gluten-free grains and flours. We saw sweet potato, purple corn, kañiwa and mesquite. Gluten-free was still a huge trend at this show.

10. Magnolia Tropical Ice Creams
These ice creams are made with unique fruit from the Philippines including flavors like ube, lychee, avocado, green tea, halo-halo and red bean.

11. Jelly Bellies Chili Mango
Ah, Jelly Belly- always coming up with new flavors to tempt us. This year we sampled a bit of sweet and spicy in the new flecked chili mango bean. Also, new was honey bean as well as a superfruit mix including pomengranate, acai, blueberry, cranberry, and cherry in the mix.

Some Honorable Mentions:

Favorite Authentic Packaging:

Most Unusual Product:
Le Foam- available in sweet and savory flavors like chocolate truffle and lemon dijon

Novel Take on Tea:
Numi Aged Puerh Tea Brick- this 60 day fermented tea is pressed into a brick and aged. You simply break off a piece and add to boiling water to steep.

And finally a few other trends we saw:

• plenty of tea including Chocolate tea from the Republic of Tea
• a lot of chocolate including burnt caramel and toffee as popular flavors
• gluten-free snacks
• bacon-everything including maple bacon marshmallows from Plush Puffs and Sir Francis' Bacon peanut brittle
• nut mixes- including new glazed flavors from Sahale Snacks like almonds with cranberries, honey and sea salt, and even a line of gourmet dried fruit and nuts mixes from Gary&Kit at Clif Family Winery and Farm.

All-in-all, it was an interesting show!