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Members of the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel walked the recent Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco for three days, armed with their professional expertise and earlier predictions for Top 2020 food trends, to select a robust group of products and companies that represent eight notable specialty food and beverage trends.

Winter Fancy Food Show Trendspotter Panel:

  • Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, analyst, Mintel
  • Monifa Dayo, consultant, chef, The Supperclub
  • Andrew Freeman, founder, af&co.
  • Illyanna Maisonet, Puerto Rican Food Columnist
  • Chef Tu David Phu, Top Chef Alumni, TDP Enterprises LLC
  • Wendy Robinson, buyer, Market Hall Foods
  • Leith Steel, Carbonate
  • Bryant Terry, author, educator, and Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora SF (MoAD)

Here are the Panel’s picks for the top trends of the Winter Show with examples of each.

  1. Charcuterie and Deli Meat Makeover
    From grass fed, to plant based, to traditional preparation methods, charcuterie and deli meats were prevalent at the Winter Show. Here are some example identified by the Panel:
  • Mia Plant-Based Deli Meat Alternatives
  •  Red Bear Provisions, artisanal charcuterie with an emphasis on grass-fed meats
  • Zoe’s Uncured Meats with no nitrates

  1. Oat Milk Takes Dairy-Free Center Stage
    Dairy alternatives continue to grow, with oat milk dominating as new products were introduced in cheeses, creamers, butters, confections, and RTD beverages. Examples include:
  • Ancient Foods MOATzarella
  • Califia Farms Oatmilk Creamer
  • Endangered Species Chocolate Oat Milk Chocolate Bars
  • Miyoko’s Creamery Cultured Vegan Oat Milk Butter
  • Rise Brewing Co. Oat Milk Latte Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
  • Verve Oatmilk Macchiatos

  1. Plants as Plants
    As one of its Top Trends of 2020, the Trendspotter Panel predicted a renewed consumer interest in whole fruits and vegetables as part of a plant-based diet and that trend was visible at the Winter Show.
  • Life’s Grapes Vine-Dried Grapes and Peanut-Covered Grapes
  • Mooney Farms Bella Sun Luci Tomato Jerky
  • Pitaya Dragonfruit and Jackfruit bite-sized fruit cubes

  1. Prebiotic-Rich Functional Beverages
    According to SFA’s annual State of the Specialty Food Industry research, functional beverages are part of the overall rise in popularity of specialty beverages that is helping spur specialty sales. Beverages with prebiotic benefits specifically, emerged at the Winter Show.
  • Mayawell Sparkling Prebiotic Beverage
  • Teranga Baobab Juices, made with baobab a prebiotic- and antioxidant-rich fruit grown on trees throughout Africa
  • Xoca Cocoa Fruit Soda with prebiotic benefits, made from a byproduct of the cacao bean

  1. Sparkling and Global Teas
    From antioxidant-rich and digestive-friendly varieties, to products based on indigenous tea leaves, new teas and tisanes are prevalent.
  • BOS sparkling unsweetened rooibos red tea made with antioxidant-rich organic rooibos from South Africa
  • HopLark Hoptea, sparkling RTD tea made with hops
  • Nuba Tisane, a ready-to-drink hibiscus tea based on a traditional Egyptian beverage
  • Shaka Teas, sustainably grown herbal teas brewed with mamaki, a superleaf from the Hawaiian islands

  1. Regional Cuisines of Asia
    Sauces, seasonings, instant noodles, and snacks reflecting the foods and ingredients of Asia’s varied regions were in the spotlight at the Winter Show. Examples include:
  • Angkor Cambodian Food Tuk Meric and Kroeung Prawlak, a tangy peppery sauce and a marinade, respectively
  • Burma Superstar Fermented Tea Leaf Dressing, a traditional dressing made from tea leaves imported from Burma
  • Eastland Food Corp. Indomie, instant noodles Indonesian-style
  • KPOP Foods Kimchi Mayo Sauce, a flavorful aioli
  • Niloofar Persian Trail Mix, or ajil, and roasted Persian-style almonds

  1. Sustainability-Driven Product and Packaging Development
    More food products are working to build a stronger future for their community and the planet, whether through plant-based foods, regenerative agriculture, upcycled ingredients, or sustainable packaging.
  • 12 Tides Seaweed, organic seaweed from regenerative North American ocean farms
  • Alter Eco Grass-Fed Milk Chocolate collection, made from Peruvian cocoa sourced from fair trade farms that practice restorative farming methods
  • Flower & White Meringues, in new plastic-free, paper sleeve packaging
  • Pescavore Ahi Tuna Jerky, includes information on the packaging of fish species, vessel/captain, fishing method, and location caught
  • Ugly Pickle Pickles, made from upcycled farm surplus and irregular produce

  1. Mocktail Culture
    Mocktails, or ingredients for nonalcoholic beverages that offer sophisticated alternatives to alcohol, were on display.
  • Fentimans Botanical Sodas
  • Hella Cocktail Co. Bitters + Soda mixer
  • Hops Water H2OPS, a sparkling water with the subtle flavors of hops grown in the Northwest
  • Saint Ivy G&T, a no-alcohol beverage made with real juniper and quinine
  • Suntory All Free, unfermented nonalcoholic beer

Find more examples of these trends in the Product Marketplace on

Denise Purcell is editor of Specialty Food.