Plants, Fizz and the Pursuit of Healthiness at the 2018 Fancy Food Show - Medallion Retail
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Plants, Fizz and the Pursuit of Healthiness at the 2018 Fancy Food Show

POSTED ON: 07/10/18

Three days. Six football fields of walking, 2,600 exhibitor stands, 200,000 specialty products. Eating our way through the 2018 Fancy Food Show was an exhausting – yet delicious – task.

The event was never more timely. The specialty food market is on the rise, marking 12.9% growth and $140.3 billion in sales in 2017. Compare that to just 1.4% growth for the total food sector.

Among the sea of products, a few caught our eyes – and our stomachs. The industry is rife with ideas. [bctt tweet=”Some of the best 2018 Fancy Food Show products, and most popular, seem to center around one key idea: health and wellness.” username=”medallionretail”]

Plant-based power

If you thought cauliflower was going away, think again. The massive trend of cauliflower products – think cauliflower pizza crust, rice and steaks – is showing no signs of slowing down.

Caulipower, Outer Aisle Gourmet and Gaea’s Cauliflower Veggie Snack (and many more) are all examples of brands working to make exciting snacks and meals out of the versatile vegetable. We even saw grilled cauliflower “steaks” for our vegetarian and vegan friends!

Plus, natural, plant-based foods on the whole are making huge waves. We saw countless examples of protein-filled replacements for both snack products and meals. Whoever thought that chickpeas would have so many uses?

Biena specializes in roasted chickpea snacks, offering fun flavors like ranch, honey roasted and even thin mint. Pedon’s line, More Than Pasta, brings consumers protein- and fiber-rich noodles made of chickpeas, red lentils and green peas.

With the number of gluten-free dieters tripling in the last decade, this plant-based trend comes at a great time. Food retailers can now cater to the more than 3.1 million people across the U.S. who live by this diet.

Fizz without fear

It’s no secret that soda sales are fizzing out. In fact, soft drink consumption declined every year this decade. This in part comes as people look towards sugar-free options, but also diet versions of soft drinks have been hit by this trend.

Even in the face of soda’s decline, the beverage industry has still managed to grow 18% in sales. Sparkling beverages and waters are taking the industry by storm – giving people the fun fizz they want without the sugars of soda and adding “texture” and excitement to the taste of naturally flavored waters.

Companies are getting creative with flavoring. We saw lavender-chai pear and even jalapeño-flavored beverages. DRY Soda debuted winter-themed cranberry and blood orange flavored beverages, both with 60% less sugar than traditional sodas.

The most unique (and buzz-worthy!) beverage may be O.Vine, a non-alcoholic water that tastes like wine. Many other drinks also imitated or referenced alcoholic beverages, with high-end flavor and zero proof.  Töst, a dry, non-alcoholic white tea, cranberry and ginger blend came in a luxurious champagne-like bottle.

Though non-alcoholic, many of these are likely to become the mixers of choice in new and fun cocktails.

Whole milk for whole living

Forget everything you think you know about fat. Higher concentrations of healthy fats are actually good for weight loss – including whole milk

When compared to low- or no-fat dairy products that feel watered down, fattier foods leave people feeling satiated for longer. New research shows that people eat less over the course of the day after consuming whole-fat products.

With this change in thinking, marketing strategies and packaging are evolving. Fat content that was previously hidden is now a point of promotion. When was the last time you saw a yogurt or dairy product advertising its higher fat percentage? Dairy company Fage has created new labels for their regular-fat Greek yogurt, highlighting its 5% fat content front and center.

The whole milk movement works in tandem with the plant-based trend. The pursuit of health has resulted in severed ties with carbohydrates, focusing instead on healthy sources of protein and fats. Carbohydrates are the new enemy of weight loss and general wellness.

Living life in 2043 at the 2018 Fancy Food Show

While the above trends are all about what’s hitting the store shelves now, one company gave us an insightful glimpse into what the food industry will be like 25 years from now.

Future Market, the brainchild of The Alpha Food Labs, explores how our food system will innovate in the coming decades to become more sustainable and dynamic. Spearheaded by the insanely talented and influential Mike Lee, the display at the 2018 Fancy Food Show was an exciting museum-like pop-up.

The premise was to change conventional thinking about ideas and foods that, at first glance, appear unappealing. We explored proteins grown in petri dishes, blockchain-approved chicken and fish and biodegradable water bottles made from shellfish shells — all in a sleek, futuristic grocery store.

When you really start to think about these innovative products and ideas, you realize their vast potential for improving lives, and even saving the world. Cruelty-free, sustainable and eco-friendly advances are in; inhumane, wasteful and socially irresponsible practices are out.

The future looks good – and surprisingly tasty.

With our bellies full, our bags stuffed with samples and our eyes on the future, we bring the 2018 Fancy Food Show to a close. We look forward to seeing (and tasting) these trends in a store near you.

For ideas about integrating food trends into retail stores as we have done with Starbuck’s, Godiva and many others, plus how to get the most out of new product displays, reach out to Michael Decker or me today at


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