WASHINGTON • The Fancy Foods Show might sound precious. But it is pretty intense: Every summer, makers of speciality foods from across the globe convene in New York for a massive trade show of their wares, all vying for the attention of buyers from grocery stores and markets. A purchase from Whole Foods, for example, can make or break a brand.
Representatives from major grocery stores stalk the aisles of the Javits Center, sampling salmon jerky and switchel and “goji berry superfood ice treat”, looking for the next big thing.
And when you see that many stalls shilling speculoos, for example, it is easy to see what is going to be trending in grocery stores next year. If you do not see these products in your local grocery store, you can always buy them online.
GOCHUJANG AND ALL THINGS KOREAN
Grown weary of Sriracha? Gochujang, a spicy Korean sauce, is going to become a household name, if the Fancy Foods Show is any indication.
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There was more gochujang in the halls of the Javits Center than could be counted, from brands such as We Rub You, Food Trk, One Culture Foods, Seriously Korean, Divine and K-Mama Sauce.
Serious Foodie has a gochujang- infused “Korean Lemon Garlic Grill Sauce and Marinade”, which is gluten-free and not genetically modified. Hak’s brand of tear-and-pour cooking sauces offers a Korean barbecue packet and Spice Hunter has a Korean barbecue rub.
Mother in Law’s, a kimchi brand that launched its gochujang in 2014, now offers “liquid kimchi” (it is the liquid from the kimchi fermentation process), a “fermented and probiotic spicy elixir” that the brand recommends for salad dressings.
CHICKPEAS ARE THE NEW NUTS
Last year’s chocolate hummus trend has manifested itself in a more palatable form: chocolate-covered chickpeas. Some of them are crunchy, some of them are chewy and all of them could substitute for your favourite chocolate-covered almonds or trail mix when you get in a snack rut.
FANCY, EXPENSIVE WATER
Remember hearing about the water sommeliers of fancy restaurants who enraged the proletariat and inflamed the Internet trolls? Well, they have made their way into packaged goods. Watersboten offers three varieties that all sound like celebrity baby names: Angelica, Blue Vervain and Rhodiola Rosea, described in their marketing materials as “non-habit forming” and “gently mood-enhancing”.
A few tables down was Tanzamaji “pre-historic water”, which is advertised as being 10 million years old.
Bottled in Mwanza, Tanzania, the water comes from the depths of a lake there, which is so deep that it has “not gone through the evaporation/rain cycle in 10 million years”, the company says. It costs US$15 (S$20) a bottle and tastes like water.
Before you get out your pitchforks, know that the company provides jobs and clean drinking water for Tanzanians near the lake.
African food has finally been getting more popular in the restaurant scene, so it is only natural that those flavours would make their way to packaged goods.
Serious Foodie has a “West African Paradise” rub, made with grains of paradise, a spice that has a lemon-pepper flavour. Woodland Foods’ Manitou Trading Company is making a North African Chermoula seasoning, another trendy flavour – traditionally, chermoula is a Moroccan herb sauce that plays well with seafood.
Drinking vegetables is no longer juicing, it’s “souping”. Vegetable soups are being packaged as ready-to-drink portable beverages.
Tio Gazpacho comes in six flavours: classic, “Del Sol” (yellow tomato, carrot and pepper), green (kale, spinach, avocado and mint), “Rosado” (watermelon, cilantro and cayenne), corn and “fresa” (strawberry, basil and romaine).
Zupa Noma, whose slogan is “Souping is the new juicing”, has a range of soups – from carrot coconut lime to yellow pepper turmeric.
Ramen at a restaurant is often a gourmet experience, but ramen at home has not yet shaken its styrofoam-coated associations. That is about to change: There were several companies at Fancy Foods shilling quality ramen.
Mike’s Mighty Good sells “craft” ramen cups filled with organic noodles in four flavours: chicken, pork tonkotsu, spicy beef and vegetarian. Wiki Wiki noodles come with a miso or tonkotsu base and take only three minutes to cook. The same company that makes them, Sun Noodles – which supplies noodles to Momofuku – also has a “craft ramen” line, which you can buy noodles-only or accompanied by a miso or shoyu base. It is free of preservatives and monosodium glutamate and the packaging is slightly rustic, as if it were cornbread or wild rice.
Because coconut water, aloe water, maple water and cactus water are so passe, there were several companies at Fancy Foods hawking water made from the sap of birch trees.
Companies such as Absolutely Wild claim that the water is rich in antioxidants and electrolytes. It is lower in sugar than coconut water and tastes less sweet too.
Some companies try to enhance it by adding flavours. Absolutely Wild has a matcha birch water, while Treo offers four flavours: peach mango, blueberry, coconut pineapple and strawberry. Expect to see birch water in the hands of Lululemon-wearing SoulCyclers.