We arrived. We gawked. We ate.
And now, we’re resting our legs. Because we're doing it again Tuesday.
The Summer Fancy Food Show in New York is featuring 180,000 products from 2,400 exhibitors all looking to stand out and show off. Here's a quick bite from Monday's plate of sessions and trends:
Checking out the chickpeas
Chickpeas chomped their way through the show, with companies like Banza — which features "the first pasta made from chickpeas" — and Watusee Foods' Organic Chickpeatos making the rounds.
"We’re excited that it is a trend," Poorvi Patodia, founder of Biena Foods said. She wanted to make the distinction that her chickpea snacks have a different roast and seasoning process, and are more like a chip.
Seeing several companies featuring chickpeas #SFFS15 pic.twitter.com/80MtuD1TMX— David Oliver (@davidolivereats) June 29, 2015
Multiple meat snack companies were at the show, including Perky Jerky and Krave. Zach Greenberg of Perky Jerky said the company right now is growing steadily, and Food Dive chatted with Krave’s regional marketing manager Lindsey Valliere about the Hershey acquisition process. We'll be taking a closer look at how various companies felt about a potential acquisition by a larger brand following the show.
SeaSnax’s CEO Ben Kim said seaweed is "definitely going mainstream" and called his product a "chip replacement."
April Oh of CJ Foods said the relationship with seaweed can be love or hate. She said the company’s Annie Chun's Seaweed Crisps are more traditional compared to another seaweed snack GimMe.
Seaweed category getting a big showing #SFFS15 pic.twitter.com/fNGjRpCxMb— David Oliver (@davidolivereats) June 29, 2015
A few different "kits" popped up. Scratch & Grain’s Baking Co.’s Cookie Kits, which made a splash on "Shark Tank," not to mention Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit, stuck out. This DIY-approach has certainly worked for food delivery companies like Blue Apron and Plated.
Top trends in products
From ginger to quinoa to matcha, a number of reinvigorated flavors and products made appearances. Below are some quick takes from industry members from larger, established brands. The least surprising takeaway from all three companies? "Healthy" is in:
Normajean Longfield, principal kitchens applications chef
June Kuruc, senior test kitchen coordinator
Lots of salts
Looking to grow healthier
McCormick & Co.
Representative (asked to not be named)
All kinds of health claims - non-GMO, organic, gluten-free
Jim Frisch, broadline food distribution at US Foods
Stacie Sopinka, vice president of innovation and product development
Cold brewed coffee
Here a recall, there a recall
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream is navigating listeria contamination. Jeni Britton Bauer clarified that its second time closing stores was due to a lack of inventory, but that shouldn’t be a problem going forward.
"You have to set your own standards," she said regarding food safety — and general business practices.
She added that specialty food companies "should be nervous" when it comes to situations like this.
While the brand isn’t featuring any ice cream at this year’s show, their appearance is intended to let people know they’ll be back.
Interview with @jenisicecreams #SFFS15 pic.twitter.com/zUWTnCNjBS— David Oliver (@davidolivereats) June 29, 2015
How pop culture relates to retail
Kevin Kelley, of the business-meets-design firm Shook Kelley, delivered a message on the value of retail and brand storytelling. This is an effort to offer consumers an emotional experience, one apart from the outside world, much like the way movies and TV can captivate an audience (he admittedly cried during "The Fault in Our Stars"). Among the stores that pull it off well? Trader Joe’s with its "Aw shucks" approach and Hawaiian shirts — what Kelley called a "sleeper brand" — Cracker Barrel with its nostalgia factor, and Costco’s warehouse appearance.
Kelley discussed helping out Nabisco in 2007 to 2009, and pointed out how a change in context, with visual cues and triggers, helped boost sales in certain stores 18 to 36%
Anything you've seen you think we should check out? Email [email protected], or tweet @davidolivereats.