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The U.S. Men’s National soccer team members weren’t the only ones having to pack their bags Tuesday evening. Attendees of the 60th Summer Fancy Food Show (SMFS) at the Javits Center in New York City also started heading home — although with a bit more kick in their step than the gritty Yanks who lost in extra time to Belgium in the World Cup.
And, as with the World Cup, the numbers were impressive. According to the show’s organizers, the Specialty Food Association (SFA), this year’s show was the largest ever: 2,700 exhibitors, 300 of whom were there for the first time.
With sales up 18.4 percent to $88.3 billion between 2011 and 2013, times are good in the gourmet food industry. There are several factors at play: heightened consumer interest in small batch, artisanal foods; a desire to know where our food comes from; clean labels; and health considerations.
“So it’s all coming together and it’s a great time for the specialty food industry,” notes SFA Communications Director Louise Kramer.
For chocolate makers and confectioners, the premium segment is the place to be. Sales at retail of premium candy and individual snacks jumped 17.3 percent between 2011 and 2013, ranking 9 out of 50 food categories in growth, according to the Specialty Food Association’s State of the Specialty Food Industry 2014 report.
Veteran confectionery industry trend spotter for Candy Industry Magazine Curtis Vreeland was at the Expo and provides a thumbnail of the latest trends. His highlights are below, but be sure to check out a more detailed analysis in next month’s issue.
Products that won the association’s Special Outstanding Food Innovation (SOFI) award also are noted.
1. Spirited: Craft confectioners tag-teaming with craft distillers to produce spirit-infused or flavored sweets: Olive & Sinclair Chocolate’s Bourbon Nib Brittle (SOFI Gold in the confectionery category); Chocolat Moderne’s Good Libations collection; Moonstruck Chocolate’s American Distillers Collection; and Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery’s Rye Whiskey Caramel Sauce.
2. Smokey: Whether the salt or the confection itself, cold-smoked ingredients are a siren song for guys or a Scheherazade layer of complexity for the choco-centric: Sticky Toffee Pudding Company’s Millionaire Shortbread with Smoked Hickory Sea Salt (SOFI gold in the cookie category); Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery’s Smoked Chocolate Chips; Quin’s Smoked Cola Gumdrops, and Chocolat Moderne’s Gunsmoke Milk Chocolate Bar.
3. Fiery: Cult followers of Huy Fong Foods’ Sriracha can now enjoy their hot chile sauce in dessert or snack form: Amella’s Sriracha Caramels and Sugar Plum’s Sriracha 72 percent Dark Chocolate Bar.
4. Coconut: Shape shifting way beyond its traditional shredded or toasted usage, coconut reappears as a dairy-free caramel alternative, paleo-friendly macaroon, and ashen chocolate bar ingredient: Dang Foods’ Dang Toasted Coconut Chips (SOFI Gold in the snack food category); Simple Squares’ Organic Snack Bars – Coconut (SOFI Silver in the snack food category); Hail Merry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Macaroons (SOFI Silver in the snack food category); JJ’s Sweets Cocomels’ Sea Salt Cocomels (SOFI Silver in the confection category); Vosges Haut Chocolat’s Coconut Ash & Banana Super Dark Bar; and Scharffen Berger’s 33 percent Milk Chocolate with Toasted Coconut & Macadamia.
5. S’More Kits: The premiumization of the quintessential fireside treat: Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery’s S’Mores kit(SOFI Silver in the food gift category), Chuao’s Oh My S’Mores! bar; Moonstruck’s S’Mores kit; and Madyson’s Marshmallow’s Sweet for S’Mores kit.
Curtis Vreeland, president of Vreeland & Associates, specializes in confectionery market research. He has been spotting trends in the premium confectionery for Candy Industry Magazine for seven years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.