Washington DC —
Every year, thousands of food brands head to New York to show off their wares and entice buyers from grocery stores to stock their products. It’s a trade show called the Fancy Foods Show, and it’s one of the best places to catch trends before they hit grocery store shelves: New products make their debut here, and months later, they appear on the shelves of your local Whole Foods. (Also, when it comes to free samples, the place is like an all-you-can-eat buffet.) Trendy turmeric? We called it. Gochujang is the new Sriracha, and souping is the new juicing? Yeah, we knew that last year. Here are the flavors and products that are going to be big over the next year:
Ayurvedic food: Ayurvedic is the Indian practice of holistic medicine and an important part of it is diet. In Ayurvedic medicine, certain foods and herbs are eaten together to balance out a person’s health and to benefit digestion, immunity and more. While many Indian foods are Ayurvedic, many specialty brands are now expressly branding their products with the term. It goes along with the popularity of other functional or adaptogenic foods. A company called Dancing Elephant is producing cups of Kitchari, an Indian stew that boasts healing spices. Packaged for convenience, it comes in three flavors: butternut squash and kaffir lime, edamame and curry leaves, and spinach and mint. Atina Foods makes traditional Indian herbal jams, pickles and pastes, from “home recipes evolved from Indian Ayurvedic healing traditions.” Davidson’s Organics has introduced a line of Ayurvedic teas, each with a specific function: weight loss, sleep, digestion, decongestion and general detoxification. A company called Vegan Rob’s makes an “Ashwagandhabar,” an Ayurvedic energy bar that the company says reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Ashwagandha, “one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing,” according to the Chopra Center, also appears in a Remedy Organics protein shake with almond milk, maca, cacao nibs and probiotics. And Bohana, a snack food company, makes bags of air-popped water lily seeds, “one of the most popular seeds in Ayurveda.” They’re similar to popcorn or puffed rice, and come in cheddar, spice or Himalayan pink salt flavor.
Canned fish salads: I know that “canned fish salad” is not a very sexy phrase, but hear me out. This is not your water-packed StarKist: It’s a higher-quality fish with vegetables, herbs and spices, and if you bring a tin of it with a crusty roll, you’ll have a perfectly good meal. Sardines have been getting trendier, and the brand Season is on the bandwagon, offering a sardine salad kit in three flavors: lemon veggie, Mediterranean and “sweet & spicy.” The kits come with a spoon and crackers. A new company called Freshé has four flavors of tinned tuna salad: Sicilian caponata, Aztec insalada, Provence Nicoise and Thai sriracha, all packed full of veggies in an attractively designed can. Its fish salads are made in Portugal, which is where some of the best tinned seafood in the world originates.
Drinking vinegar gets spicy: Maybe you haven’t yet realized that drinking vinegar is A Thing or even why drinking vinegar is A Thing. It’s okay, I’m here for you. Drinking a small daily quantity of straight-up apple cider vinegar became trendy in the past three years because foodie health blogs such as Goop promoted it as a detoxifying weight-loss cure-all. The science on that is pretty murky, but it created a new beverage category, and plenty of brands have jumped into the market. Plain apple cider vinegar is, for most people, unpleasant to drink — throat burn! — so many versions of the drink sweeten it with maple syrup or juice to make it more palatable — such as BluePrint Organic, which makes a blueberry hibiscus version of the drink, or Crafted, which has turned it into a sparkling fruit soda. But this year, several companies are taking a cue from a traditional folk recipe and leaning into the burn: The aptly named Fire Brew , based in Portland, Ore., has a line of “health tonics,” each designed to optimize a certain area of personal wellness, such as immunity or energy, and in flavors including beet, citrus and chai. Another brand, called Fire Cider, has an extra-spicy take on the drink that includes garlic, ginger, onions, horseradish, habanero pepper, turmeric and citrus, as well as some honey. Red Root & Co. calls its version Fire Tonic, and it’s made with honey and vinegar. A little goes a long way.
Flavored ghee: Ghee, or clarified butter, is another staple of Indian cooking, but it’s been having a moment this year — in part thanks to its purported health benefits, and also because the fat is promoted for adherents of the Paleo and Ketogenic diets. Plain ghee is very versatile, but at this year’s show, special flavored ghees were popping up everywhere. Farmtrue‘s ghee comes in the flavors garlic scape and vanilla maple chai, and the company also makes ghee-nut butters in chocolate chia, maple walnut and cashew coconut flavors. Another ghee company, 4th & Heart, makes its ghee in original, Himalayan salt, California garlic and Madagascar vanilla bean flavors, and has a line of chocolate ghee spreads in original, coffee guarana and passion fruit. Pure Indian Foods has both turmeric and garlic ghee, as well as a ghee that contains medium chain triglyceride oil that is intended to be stirred into coffee (it’s a Paleo thing).
Quinoa where you don’t expect it: Quinoa! It’s everywhere now, not just in salads. It’s in your breakfast, your chocolate, your mac and cheese. You cannot escape quinoa. Do not resist. Eat the quinoa. Have it for breakfast with Melanie’s Medleys, a line of ready-to-eat morning grain bowls, with a chocolate-coconut-almond quinoa and farro variety — or try Prime Planet’s instant quinoa cereal. The brand Tiny Hero, too, has three flavors of quinoa and oat breakfast bowls: blueberry, apple cinnamon, and maple brown sugar. That brand is also putting quinoa in our mac and cheese, er, excuse me, “maq and cheese.” Chuao Chocolatier is introducing Moon Bark, a line of outdoorsy, trail mix-inspired bars, including “Quinoa Berry Skies,” with crisp puffed quinoa, berries and sea salt. Quinoa pairs with agave and sesame in one of Jcoco‘s bars of “culinary inspired chocolates.” Unreal is selling crispy quinoa-filled versions of M&Ms and Reese’s peanut butter cups. The most blatant expression of this trend might be a product line called Undercover Quinoa, chocolate-covered quinoa snacks.
Moringa goes mainstream: Mankind’s quest to discover new superfoods continues apace. Next up: moringa, an ancient plant that has long been used in Asia and Africa for its reputed health benefits. According to Healthline, it is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, and it may reduce inflammation. So it’s no surprise that it’s starting to pop up in products here. Kuli Kuli, started by a Peace Corps volunteer, sells powdered moringa smoothie mix, energy shots and moringa superfood bars, with a half-cup of greens in each bar. Stash is selling a new organic roasted moringa mint tea. And Brad’s Organic, another tea company, has it in its unadulterated flavor, as well as moringa with lemon and ginger. If you would rather crunch your moringa like cheese puffs, Vegan Rob’s makes snackable puffed moringa bites.
Cauliflower gets convenient: Have you ever wanted to make something with cauliflower and thought, “Ugh, this vegetable is just far too much work?” Good news: Cooking with this brassica, which has been one of the trendier veggies for a few years now, has never been easier, thanks to a bunch of new convenience products that go beyond your basic cauliflower rice. Caulipower has a cauliflower-based baking mix, in regular and Paleo-friendly (the Paleo version uses almond flour instead of rice flour). Glean also makes cauliflower flour. Kitchen & Love sells cauliflower cups intended to be a quick convenience meal in three globally inspired flavors: Peruvian vegetable ceviche, Indian vegetable curry and Moroccan vegetable harissa. They can be eaten cold or warm. If you need more than an individual serving of cauliflower, Path of Life has cauliflower fried rice in the frozen aisle. A company called From the Ground Up has cauliflower-based replacements for all of your favorite junk food, such as pretzel sticks and Cheez-Its. And there’s cauliflower in chocolate ice cream — yes, ice cream — by Peakaboo, a company that hides veggies in every pint. Don’t worry, it tastes like chocolate ice cream.
Boozy kombucha: Kombucha is great, but wouldn’t it be even better if it could get you drunk? Now, it can! The fermented tea drink has a tiny amount of alcohol in it, but some kombucha companies are upping the alcohol by volume (ABV). Wild Tonic’s Jun Kombucha is fermented until it reaches a 5.6 percent ABV, making it slightly boozier than beer, which averages 4.5 percent. The company says you still get the digestive health benefits of a nonalcoholic kombucha. It comes in several flavors: blueberry basil, tropical turmeric, raspberry goji rose, mango ginger and hoppy buzz. Another new beverage isn’t technically kombucha, but it’s going after the same health-conscious drinker. Willie’s Superbrew makes a fermented fruit drink with a 4.5 ABV. The company touts its superfoods ingredients — the two flavors are ginger and lemon, and pomegranate and acai — and it’s the kind of light, fruity drink that would be good next to a pool on a hot summer’s day.
Cucumber, inexplicably: Sometimes flavors go in or out of fashion for reasons that are hard to explain. Why was watermelon so big last year? Why is cucumber suddenly everywhere this year? I haven’t the faintest idea. It feels very ’90s, like Bath and Body Works cucumber melon lotion, and the ‘90s are back in style. That is my very best guess. Anyway, you’ll be drinking a lot of cucumber soon, especially in sparkling beverages: Belvoir Fruit Farms has a cucumber-and-mint lemonade, and Found has a cucumber mint sparkling water. Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company is selling a cucumber jalapeño juice, and House of Broughton has a cucumber syrup. Bauman’s Best Botanicals has a cucumber-and-spice shrub, Health-Ad Kombucha has a new jalapeño-kiwi-cucumber kombucha, and Dry has cans of cucumber soda. Try ZuMora cucumber mint agua fresca, or GoLive probiotic water in cucumber melon. Pretend you are in a spa! That’s where people drink cucumber.
Weird & wonderful waters: You’re still drinking coconut water? What is this, 2015? Birch water is so last year. Don’t even talk to me about aloe water. We obviously need new waters, so let’s dive right in: There’s Bee’s Water, a honey-sweetened water that is “full of natural energy” and comes in flavors including cinnamon and blueberry. Then there’s Sap on Tap, a maple water whose motto goes for the jugular: “Out with coconut water. In with maple tree water.” One of its waters comes with yerba mate, for a natural caffeine boost. The aforementioned GoLive is a “live probiotic water,” and it’s interactive: Press a compartment on the cap and release the live probiotics into the water, shake it and enjoy your ensuing gut health. But wait, here comes the mic drop of waters: organic water. You fools have been drinking conventional, nonorganic water your whole lives; do you even know what you’ve been missing? A company called Asarasi makes sparkling water that is harvested as a byproduct from maple sap, and because it is filtered through the tree, it has achieved USDA organic certification, something that regular water does not have (water is an inorganic compound). It tastes like sparkling water. Finally: an Israeli company called O.Vine is making wine grape water, which really makes me think of Jesus. It’s a sparkling water that gets its slight wine flavor from grape skins. I regret to inform you that it has no alcohol in it. I will continue drinking my own version of grape water: It’s called wine.