San Jose Job Corps Culinary Arts Students Spot Trends at the Specialty Food Association Winter Fancy Food Show

NEW YORK – The Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, CA welcomed eight culinary arts students from the San Jose Job Corps Culinary Arts Program. The students represented the Gen Z point of view as members of a special SFA Trendspotter Panel, scouting the show floor in search of the best new products and defining the hottest trends.

“This was an incredible opportunity for our students and staff,” said Michael Lin, Culinary Instructor, San Jose Job Corps. “Experiencing the diversity of products and companies at the Winter Fancy Food Show was eye-opening. The exhibitors were so welcoming, and our students received exposure to the heart of the specialty food industry that really made them think about the food trends they see every day. This firsthand, real-life experience was priceless.”

“It was exciting to have these students from the San Jose Job Corps at the Show,” said Phil Kafarakis, president, Specialty Food Association. “This is the first year we’ve expanded the SFA Trendspotter Panel to specifically include Gen Z, a critical demographic for our $148.7 billion industry. Getting the perspective of this up-and-coming generation is invaluable and it’s great to see these students learn about and engage directly with the specialty food industry.”

The students walked the show floor, which featured 1,400+ companies showcasing over 90,000 products. As a group they identified the following trends for 2020:

  • Upcycled
  • Plants as Plants
  • Vegan, transparency
  • Global food
  • Prebiotic / Probiotic

“Throughout the day, there were trends that jumped out at our students,” said Lin. “They were drawn to products featuring global flavors, upcycling, a focus on plants, and transparency. During their search, they also noted how prebiotic/probiotic intersected with these other trends. This generation has their eye not only on the food, but where it comes from and how it’s produced, and the industry is evolving to reflect these values.”

The students included Anders Arballo, Alissa Dehlinger, Michael Flowers, Jai Harris, Josefina Nakagawa, Noni Roberts, Alexis Swanson, Joseph Velasco.

A full Trendspotter Report from the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show can be found online here. Trends included:

  • Regional Cuisines of Asia
  • Oat Milk Takes Dairy-Free Center Stage
  • Plants as Plants
  • Prebiotic-Rich Functional Beverages
  • Charcuterie and Deli Meat Makeover
  • Mocktail Culture
  • Sparkling and Global Teas
  • Sustainability-Driven Product and Packaging Development

The Summer Fancy Food Show will be held in New York, NY at the Jacob Javits Center from June 28 to 30, 2020. The show is trade only and requires registration. For additional information visit

About the Specialty Food Association
Founded in 1952 in New York City, the Specialty Food Association (SFA) is the leading advocate for the $148.7 billion specialty food industry. Representing makers, importers, entrepreneurs, retailers, distributors and others in the trade, the SFA aims to champion, nurture and connect its members to deliver traditional and innovative new products to consumers that expand consumption of specialty foods. With over 3,800 member companies, the Association helps its members through providing information, research, educational events, and celebrating the industry through its awards programs. The SFA is known for hosting the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and presents the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty food. Learn more at

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