January 30, 2013
1. “Artisan,” “hand-baked,” “fresh,” and other phrases that sound great to consumers but have no legal meaning continue to be overused by food manufacturers big and small. Without any real oversight into these phrases this means that small food producers must find other ways to differentiate themselves.
2. Snacking Is King. As the Western World becomes more and more hurried it’s getting harder and harder to sit down and eat a real meal (I say while typing this during lunch which consists of a bag of almonds next to my computer). Consumers are looking for fast food options without it necessarily being ‘fast food’ and snack pack sizes were everywhere this year. If you can find a way to fill this niche there’s a market there for you.
3. The GMO label (indicating products that were not made with genetically-modified ingredients) was front and center this year. I’m predicting that the GMO fight will get even uglier as the year goes on. You’re starting to see more states in the US get bills on the ballot concerning consumers’ right to know whether genetically modified ingredients are part of their food. The battle may have been lost in California in November but a handful of other states are taking up the fight. They may not win in 2013 but I doubt this is an issue that’s going to go away.
3a. The certified GMO-free label will become the new ‘gluten-free label’ of 2013 as specialty food consumers look to have a better understanding about what it is they’re actually eating.
4. Spices are in – big time. Apparently America’s flavor for ethnic spices is growing as I saw spices on everything and in every combination. What’s more, we’re not talking mild amounts of spice either! If you’re going to put spice into it then people want to know it’s there!
4a. Sweetly Hot – as mentioned last week, the heat/spice combo with sweet is big right now and I saw lots of flavor combinations like
4b. Cardamom seems to be coming into its own. I saw more cardomom-stuff then I ever have before.
5. Health foods made a big leap forward this year and took up far more of the show floor then I’ve seen before. ‘Raw’ foods seemed to make up the biggest portion of this group but items like apple chips and agave certainly had their place. Kale also refused to be overshadowed as evidenced by this pin I was given to wear during the show (and I wore it with pride!).