From January 15-17, the Specialty Food Association (SFA) Trendspotter Panel navigated thousands of specialty food products showcased by more than 1,100 exhibitors at the Las Vegas Convention Center. After great deliberation through countless products, 10 overall trends have emerged from the 2023 Winter Fancy Food Show.

"Products that make home cooking more convenient and restaurant-quality are in demand, whether meal starter kits, distinctive salts or butters, condiments from around the world, or foods from different global regions available as frozen entrees," said Denise Purcell, SFA's vice president, resource development. "Sustainability and health in balance are top trend themes too, with foods and beverages that use upcycled or regeneratively grown ingredients, as well as better-for-you indulgences from tempeh, water lily seed, or bean snacks to alcohol-free cocktails," she added.

The Winter Fancy Food Show Trendspotters included Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo, food & sustainability consultant, @PatsyRamirezArroyo, (Puerto Rico); Nicole Brisson, executive chef, Brezza and Bar Zazu, @ChefNicoleBrisson (Las Vegas, NV); Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, CHE, CRC, professor and director, Drexel Food Lab, @drexelfoodlab (Philadelphia); Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., CFS, IFT Fellow, principal, Corvus Blue LLC, @Kantha (Chicago); Kimberly Lord Stewart, food and health content specialist, @kimberlylordstewart (Berthoud, Colo.); V. Sheree Williams, founder, The Global Food & Drink Initiative, editor and publisher, Cuisine Noir, (Oakland), @cuisinenoirmagazine.

Top 10 Trends, 2023 Winter Fancy Food Show

- Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Culture
- Fermented for Function
- Honey Is Hot
- New Packaging Form and Utility
- Starters, Bases, Kits, and Shortcuts for Convenience
- Pantry Without Borders
- Sustainable, Upcycled, or Regeneratively Grown Ingredients
- High-Quality Meal Prep
- Health in Balance
- Beneficial Beans (and Lentils)

Full details include:

1. Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Culture

Alcohol-free beverages are dominating in the ongoing cocktail trend, giving consumers sophisticated, well-crafted, and flavorful options in elegant packaging, equal to their traditional counterparts. "Truly alchemists, combining active plants, adaptogens, and nootropics to create unique alcohol-free cocktails," notes Trendspotter Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo. Women- and diverse-owned companies are taking the lead in innovation in several products. Examples include:

Abstinence Spirits alcohol-free botanical spirits and aperitifs
For Bitter For Worse non-alcoholic sparkling aperitifs, wine, and spirits
Hibisbloom handcrafted beverages and mixers interpreted from the West African hibiscus flower tea, bissap
MIXOLOSHE low-calorie non-alcoholic cocktail alternative in six flavors
Prima Pavé Italian alcohol-free sparkling wine
Three Spirits non-alcoholic wine and spirits

2. Fermented for Function

As consumers gain understanding of the importance of digestive health to overall well-being, fermentation in new uses is creating healthful value-adds to foods and beverages. "The trend extends to pickles, beverages made with koji, sauces and adaptogentic plants," says Trendspotter Kimberly Lord Stewart. Examples include:

Britt's Fermented Foods Pickles made without vinegar
Es KOJI CLEAR Clear Beverage
Gutsy Kombucha, Adapt2, with fermented adaptogenic herbs
Hichifuku Brewing organic white soy sauce
Inner Love Water Kefir with electrolytes, B vitamins, and other beneficial bacteria and enzymes

3. Honey Is Hot

A new batch of honeys is hitting the market featuring adaptogen infusions, forest-grown varieties that are sustainably harvested, and hot flavor profiles showcasing different spices. Some of these products "combat climate change and support local enterprises," says Trendspotter Kantha Shelke. Examples include:

African Bronze Honey Company Forest Honey
Frangiosa Farms Bee Sheperd Raw Honey infused with lion's main and reishi mushrooms
King Island Pure Manuka Honey
Runamok Honey Szechuan, peppercorn-infused hot honey

4. New Packaging Form and Utility

Innovative packaging that addresses portability and convenience, as well as creative ways to consume traditional products, is leading innovation from meal cups to tea discs to freeze drying products like candy and salsa. "The freeze-dried format allows for convenience and ease, which allows it to be enjoyed almost anywhere. The way they also did the freeze drying kept the flavor, delivering an authentic experience," says Trendspotter V. Sheree Williams. Examples:

Dietz and Watson diced pancetta
Freeze Nums Freeze Dried Candy
iLOLA Tea Discs
Mr. Kipling individually sealed cake slices for portion control
Salsa Queen freeze dried salsa
Sweet Craft Dolceria desserts in reusable glass jars

5. Starters, Bases, Kits, and Shortcuts for Convenience

Convenience in at-home cooking is a top 2023 trend, according to the Trendspotter panel, as consumers have ambitions to keep up their pandemic-era home cooking but lack time. The Winter Fancy Food Show brought several meal starters, sauce starters, frozen meals, and other shortcuts to the forefront. Several options are also helping consumers create recipes without a lot of prep or ingredient purchases. Examples include:

Chilau Stew Base
Eleni's Kitchen EK Ethiopian Injera and Simmering Sauces
Khalsa Salsa Indian Fusion salsa starter
Meat Shredz Dried Meat
Norseland Lotito Presto Cacio e Pepe Pasta Sauce starter
Rill Foods Soup Kits
Two Fish Seafood Boil in a bag

6. Pantry Without Borders

Trendspotters saw a crop of condiments, sauces, oils, and seasonings that help people enjoy global and regional tastes at home as a top trend for 2023. That held firm at the Winter Show where the trend also extended to snacks, cookies, beverages, and other grocery staples. Many of the products representing the trend are from "farm to table, family-run small business and showcase superior ingredient use," says Trendspotter Nicole Brisson. Examples include:

Olio Arkè di Sicilia EVOO Black and Green label
KTM Services Taro Cookies, a local Hawaiian favorite
Mi Mole Oaxaca Mole negro oaxaqueño
The French Farm Sur les Quais Mustards in flavors like honey and curry, walnut, and zaatar
Three Amigos Elote Mexican Street Corn Snack Mix
Wen & Winnie Trading Cravi Milk Tea in original, taro, and brown sugar

7. Sustainable, Upcycled, or Regeneratively Grown Ingredients

The health of the environment continues to be a top consumer concern and they align themselves with brands who take it seriously. This is opening the door for more products that are responsibly grown or produced, ethically sourced, use upcycled ingredients, or contain sustainable packaging. Products range from plant-based sushi to a new spirit made from upcycled whey. "This farm-to-flash spirit was developed by a food scientist as a sustainable way to use whey without going to waste," says Trendspotter Shelke. Examples include:

40 Below Fruity Whey
CinSoy Tofu Gnocchi made from regeneratively grown soybeans
Konscious Foods Plant-Based Sushi
Avocado Tea Co. Avocado Leaf Tea
Molino Grassi organic, biodiverse, wheat flour and semolina
Neptune Snacks Fish Jerky Seafood Snacks
Wheyward Spirit 80-proof spirit distilled from upcycled whey
Wild Orchard Tea Company Regenerative Organic Certified tea line

8. High-Quality Meal Prep

Exhibitors at the Winter Show showcased several products to help home cooks prepare meals with restaurant-quality ingredients. Products ran the gamut from croutons to smoked and sea urchin butter—with high-end flavor use and a little indulgence as a common goal. Examples include:

Marin Food Smoked Butter and Sea Urchin Butter
Naogen Soy Sauce Crystalized Shoyu
Nihon Ichiban clear soy sauce
Olivia's Croutons in Butter & Garlic, and Parmesan Pepper
Perfect Puree Lime Zest
Portland Salt Co. Steak Salt, Pita Salt, and Toast Sugar
Sunnygem Virgin Cold-Pressed Almond Oil

9. Health in Balance

While the past few years, especially, have put health and immune system boosting foods top of mind, consumers still want to indulge. Better-for-you snacks and treats continue to dominate.

- Hero Bread low carb and zero carb bread and baked goods
- Woh Naturally Delicious Tempeh and Salacca Chips
- Wonder Monday low carb, low sugar, high protein Cheesecake
- Route to India Yoga Pops popped water lily seed snack

10. Beneficial Beans (and Lentils)

From crisps to snacks to seasoned varieties to new to-go packages and pouches, beans such as black, pinto, and fava, as well as lentils, dominated at the Winter Show as protein alternatives and better-for-you chip options. Some products such as South African Chakalaka are "diverse owned and new ideas on the market," said Trendspotter Jonathan Deutsch.