Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel: Trends from 2020 Winter Fancy Food Show

NEW YORK — The Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel searched the 45th Annual Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, CA for this year’s hottest trends. They reviewed 80,000 specialty food and beverage products to select a robust group of products and companies representing eight notable trends in the specialty food and beverage industry.

“In a reflection of consumer awareness and tastes, products connected to sustainability and plants, health, and global flavors continue to grow in prominence,” said Denise Purcell, director of content for the Specialty Food Association. “As we can see with trends around oat milk, teas, functional drinks, and charcuterie, innovations in alternative dairy, specialty beverages, and protein continue to dominate, and all of this will be on our radar as we head into the Summer Fancy Food Show.”

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

Top Trends from the 2020 Winter Fancy Food Show

  1. Regional Cuisines of Asia
  2. Oat Milk Takes Dairy-Free Center Stage
  3. Plants as Plants
  4. Prebiotic-Rich Functional Beverages
  5. Charcuterie and Deli Meat Makeover
  6. Mocktail Culture
  7. Sparkling and Global Teas
  8. Sustainability-Driven Product and Packaging Development


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.

  • 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
  • Linaco Chicken Rendang
  • Mama La’s Kitchen Beef Pho
  • Niloofar Persian Trail Mix, or ajil, and roasted Persian-style almonds
  • Ochanoki Sai Sai Kyoto-style Chili Oil
  • Oyna Natural Foods Kuku, a Persian-style frittata available in grab-and-go package
  • Tat Hui Foods Pte. Ltd. Singaporean-style instant noodles
  • The Spice Hunter Japanese 7-Spice, traditionally known as Shichimi Togarashi, or seven-flavor chile
  • True World Foods Mentaiko, a creamy, mayo-like spicy sauce

Oat Milk Takes Dairy-Free Center Stage
Dairy alternatives continue to grow, with oat milk dominating at the Winter Show as new products were introduced in cheeses, creamers, butters, confections, and RTD beverages.

  • 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

Plants as Plants
The Trendspotter Panel predicted renewed consumer interest in whole fruits and vegetables in their annual trends predictions last November. That trend was very 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

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

Charcuterie and Deli Meat Makeover
From grass fed, to plant based, to traditional preparation methods, charcuterie and deli meats were prevalent at the show. 

  • Red Bear Provisions, artisanal charcuterie with an emphasis on grass-fed meats
  • Mia Plant-Based Deli Meat Alternatives
  • Zoe’s Uncured Meats with no nitrates

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

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

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
  • Patagonia Provisions Smoked Mussels, focused on transparency, traceability, and low-carbon footprint
  • 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

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 specialtyfood.com.