The show floor closed an hour ago. Manufacturers gave away whatever they didn't want to ship home, and happy show attendees exited San Francisco's Moscone Center with bags of chocolate, cheese, olive oil, and is that a partially shaved pig leg poking out of someone's carryall? I, unfortunately, don't have the luggage space to steal away the best show wares. Instead, I leave with a handful of great ideas for future articles in Natural Foods Merchandiser, and a sneak peak of 2011 food trends. I share my thoughts below.
I'm not referring to wine and cheese here. Manufacturers realize U.S. palettes are becoming more sophisticated and are creating products to bring out the epicure in everyone. I saw teas, sparkling waters and juices all made specifically to be paired with various cuisines. My favorite new product though, is these cookies made specifically for wine pairing from Cookie Zen.
New super fruits
Acai, goji berry, pomegranate? They're old news. Specialty companies unveiled the next generation of super fruits—mangosteen, maqui and something called guanabana. I'm not sure of all the health benefits these fruits offer, but what I tasted in yogurts and jams was delicious.
Natural moves into specialty
Foods that once only got love from naturals consumers are getting a gourmet makeover as specialty consumers ask for tasty products with better-for-you ingredients. Quinoa was the star at the show, popping up (literally) everywhere.
Exotic cured meats
Prosciutto is not going anywhere, it just may now share space on the charcuterie platter with jamón ibérico de bellota, and wild boar. Producers are bringing regional international meats to the U.S. and increasingly opting to go nitrate free.
Marriage of sweet and salty
Rather than satisfying your cravings by volleying between the chip bag and the cookie jar, companies are producing products that deliver with both salt and sugar. It was love at first bite after I tried a Skillet Bacon Spread made from Niman Ranch pork. Caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar beautifully balance the smoky bacon.