The Summer Fancy Food Show 2019: When Did Fake Get So Popular?

 

“Revolutionary foods” made in labs by technicians are supplanting farms, kitchens, and chefs.

 

The last time I attended this show was in 2016 (link here). A lot has changed since then.

Two of the most significant changes from three years ago:

  • The absence of the Brooklyn artisanal scene, which was huge in 2016 (Brooklyn even had a dedicated section on the convention floor). Zero presence this year.
  • But the most significant change is the excitement around “free-of” products, e.g., gluten-free, non-GMO, non-allergic, non-dairy, non-soy, nontree nuts, yada yada yada. Three years ago, many of these “worry-free” products were on display, but there was very little activity in the booths. Complete reversal this year.

With that as a backdrop, here are my top 10 takeaways from the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show.

 

#1: THE FAKE FOOD GOLDRUSH IS THE BIGGEST TREND

At least one-third of the convention hall was filled with processed foods “free of” anything remotely natural, healthy or tasty.

Instead of being tempted by deliciousness and old world goodness, we’re now being cautioned to “Eat Like Your Life Depends On it.”

Examples:

  • KNOW Allergies Snacks
  • Fody (Low Fodmap & Gut Friendly)
  • Harmless Harvest Coconut Water
  • No Evil Foods (Protein For All, In Plants We Trust)

 

Read on below for more.

 

#2: PLANT-BASED OPTIONS

 From burgers to seafood to noodles and jerky.

 

 

#3: PLANT MILKS

 

 

#4:  FRUIT AND VEGETABLE-BASED

Jerky made from bananas and mushrooms

Mushrooms and Avocados were EVERYWHERE

Also, look for more Fruit Rind products (an alternative to jerky?)

 

Mushrooms:  The new Cauliflower?

 

Avocados

 

 

#5: SPECIALIZED WATERS

Flow’s booth was the busiest (the company my friend, Billy Melnyk, is involved with)

 

 

#6:  TEAS

Many with a medicinal slant, e.g., the Good Nature booth even had its sales staff decked out in white lab coats.

Coffee had a minimal presence vs. tea – and the focus was on cold brew.

 

 

#7: HONEY

Very prominent presence.

 

 

#8: MOCHI ICE CREAM

I consider them the ice cream version of macarons.

 

 

#9: HEMP/CBD PRODUCTS

Fewer CBD and Hemp products than I had anticipated but undoubtedly waiting for nationwide legalization.

However, lots of Weed trucks parked outside of Javits.

 

 

#10: BAR PROVISIONS/ COCKTAIL MIXERS

Even with alcohol consumption on the decline, the number of booths specializing in mixers, shrubs, and the like was noteworthy.

 

 

TRENDS THAT HAVE PEAKED?

  • Keto – minimal action in any of their booths
  • BBQ sauces (replaced by hot sauces, e.g., Vermont maple sriracha?)
  • Peanuts – they’ve been walloped by allergy worries
  • Kombucha – very few booths. I would say we are at peak-kombucha!

 

Bottom Line.

I’m extremely wary of this mad rush to fake in the food aisle. And I also recognize that not being into fake meat, fake fish, or fake milk may be generational.

I’m firmly into sticking with old school, yummy European cheeses, hams, pastas and giving all these ultra- techie, industrialized American foods a pass. Perhaps sanity will return.

In the meanwhile, thank you, Billy Melnyk, for inviting me to walk the show with you!

 

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