Slideshow: Six food trends to watch

by Monica Watrous
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SAN FRANCISCO — What’s the next kale? Experts say it may be coffee, cabbage or cinnamon toast.

A panel of food writers and journalists at the Winter Fancy Food Show, held Jan. 11-13 in San Francisco, identified a number of themes emerging from products displayed by 1,300 exhibitors representing the latest in specialty foods and beverages. Breakfast flavors and cruciferous veggies top the list of trends headed to retail shelves in the year ahead.

“Consumers are craving food with taste appeal, a sense of adventure, and a decided healthy glow,” said Denise Purcell, a panelist and editor of Specialty Food Media. “These new products at the show play right into that appetite.”

Of more than 80,000 products on display, from chocolate to charcuterie, the panelists named six trends to watch in the coming year.

Say cheese

Products on display at the Winter Fancy Food Show presented new twists on cheese. Boldly flavored varieties of the specialty staple include grilled bacon cheeseburger artisan cheese from Yancey’s Fancy, Corfu, N.Y., and a new citrus ginger cheese under Plymouth, Wis.-based Satori’s BellaVitano brand.

Cheesy packaged snack products include Mr. Cheese O’s crunchy cheese snacks from Sonoma Creamery, Sonoma, Calif., and caramel and cheddar popcorn from Angie’s Boomchickapop, North Mankato, Minn. Silva Regal Spanish, Union City, N.J., immerses manchego-style cheese in flavored extra virgin olive oil that may be used as a decadent dip or dressing.

Biting into breakfast

From bacon to waffles, breakfast flavors are burgeoning in new snacks and beverages. The popular pork product sizzles in such items as savory bacon coconut chips from Dang Foods, Berkeley, Calif., bacon spread from The Bacon Jams, West Chester, Penn., and bacon-flavored hot sauce from Bacon Hot Sauce, San Francisco.

Coffee is creating a buzz in fermented tea from Revive Kombucha, Windsor, Calif., spicy coffee beef jerky from Uncle Andy’s Jerky, Fort Collins, Colo., and Borgnine’s Coffee Soda, a clean label carbonated soft drink from Borgnine Beverage Co., Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Morning mealtime was the muse behind two new chocolate bars from Chuao Chocolatier, Carlsbad, Calif. The Cinnamon Cereal Smooch bar features milk chocolate mixed with bits of cinnamon toast cereal, and the Strawberry Waffle Wild bar contains tart dried strawberries and crispy waffles embedded in milk chocolate.

“I’ve always had a love affair with breakfast foods, whether it’s a Saturday morning with a stack of fresh strawberry waffles, or at midnight with a big bowl of cold cereal,” said Chef Michael Antonorsi, co-founder and master chocolatier of Chuao Chocolatier. “Inspiration struck the moment I realized we could share the joy of these comfort foods with our fans by marrying them with our chocolate bar.”

Cinnamon toast also pops up in a new high-caffeine black tea from The Republic of Tea, Novato, Calif.

And B.T. McElrath Chocolatier, Minneapolis, debuted a buttered toast chocolate bar, combining toasted artisan breadcrumbs with milk chocolate.

Turmeric takes off

Boasting a host of health benefits, turmeric has been trending in teas and tonics, including loose-leaf turmeric ginger tea from Milwaukee-based Rishi Tea, orange carrot turmeric mango juice drink from Purity Organic, San Francisco, and passion fruit ginger ale with turmeric from Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, Brooklyn, N.Y.

But now the ancient spice also is showing up in such unexpected items as organic turmeric brown rice from HealthVerve Food Manufacturing USA, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., turmeric tamari seasoned almonds from Navitas Naturals, Novato, Calif., and ready-to-eat Indian spiced popcorn from Masala Pop, Portland, Ore.

Crunch time

Cruciferous veggies star in new packaged snacks, including Greensboro, N.C.-based Creative Snacks Co.’s broccoli chips with white cheddar, Oakland, Calif.-based Alive & Radiant Veggie Crunch featuring arugula and cabbage seasoned with dill and caraway sauce, and a new tamarind apple variety of Brussel Bytes, a snack mix featuring organic Brussel sprouts, coconut and pumpkin seeds from Watsonville, Calif.-based Wonderfully Raw Gourmet.

Genuine Grub Co., San Francisco, presented a spicy pickled cabbage, a naturally probiotic condiment made with Napa cabbage, apple, radish, onion, hot pepper powder, sea salt, garlic and ginger.

Viva vanilla

Vanilla bean has sprouted in cheese, cookies and beverages. Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, Midway, Utah, offers a wedge of aged white cheddar rubbed with gourmet vanilla bean and made with fresh whole milk from the company’s own cows. Ice creams from Choctal, Pasadena, Calif., include four vanilla varieties: Mexican vanilla, Papua New Guinea vanilla, Indonesian vanilla and Madagascar vanilla.

The classic flavor shines in such treats as pure vanilla bean shortbread from Dancing Deer Baking Co., Boston, and a white chocolate and bourbon vanilla bar under the Milkboy Swiss Chocolate brand from Brooklyn-based Menrose USA. Vanilla also plays a supporting role in hemp milk with blue-green algae and vanilla from Drink Daily Greens, Austin, Texas.

Getting nutty

The P.B.&J. mainstay is all grown up in some adult-oriented varieties of nut butter. Eliot’s Adult Nut Butter, Portland, Ore., infuses peanut butter with spicy flavors, including garam masala, spicy Thai coconut and honey chipotle. Almond butter varieties from The Squirrel Brand Co., McKinney, Texas, include Italian black truffle and crème brulee.

As an alternative to peanut butter, Bonelli Fine Food, San Diego, offers Simply Sesame seed butter in flavors that include pistachio with cardamom and vanilla with almond bits.
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