From convenience to environmentally friendly foods and everything in between, the Specialty Food Association (SFA) Trendspotter Panel predicted what will be trending in the specialty foods space for 2023. The panel, comprised of culinary professionals from diverse industry segments, researches numerous specialty foods and companies to predict key emerging trends for the upcoming year.
“Specialty food consumers are looking to make their meal prep easy but exciting and that is driving many of this year’s trends regarding convenience, packaging improvements and global flavors,” said Denise Purcell, SFA’s vice president, resource development, in a press release. “At the same time, they continue to care about how their food is grown and the health benefits it offers, giving rise to evolving sustainability, plant-based and better-for-you trends.”
Here’s what the panel identified as some of the key trends to look out for in the specialty foods space next year.
As consumers have been increasingly cooking at home during and post-pandemic, the panel predicted that brands will focus on providing tools and recipes for at-home chefs looking to make simple meals that don’t sacrifice “authenticity, convenience or taste,” said Kantha Shelke, a panel member and founder of Corvus Blue LLC, a contract food science and nutrition research firm, in the same press release.
Examples of this trend were found in action at SFA’s annual Summer Fancy Food Show, with companies like Bella Sun Luci offering sauce starters to help consumers create restaurant quality meals at home. Meal kit popularity also led the New York Times to release a series of home cooking kits, with each kit designed by a guest chef to focus on one type of cuisine made with non-perishable specialty ingredients.
Environmentally Friendly Foods
The panel also predicted that consumers will be looking out for innovative packaging that can offer increased portability while lessening messiness. Brands should similarly look to improve messaging on their labels and tap into consumer values like sustainability. Continued sustainability and environmental concerns led environmentally friendly foods to rank second on the panel’s 2023 trends.
Specialty foods like mushrooms, seaweed and jackfruit have been developed into different products and pasta’s pandemic-fueled comeback made room for more innovation with black rice, pumpkin, red lentils and purple carrots. The panel expects to see more from visionary entrepreneurs engaging in regenerative agriculture who are creating seed-to-shelf sustainable supply chains.
Other Trending Specialty Foods
The panel found a growing demand for alternative seafood amid emerging technologies that can provide traditional tastes and textures. Better-for-you and functional foods also will continue to grow in 2023, with consumers seeking to balance their interest in healthy and indulgent foods.
The panel also predicted there will be an increased interest in bold and intense flavor experiences in the upcoming year, building on the hot sauce renaissance that started offering consumers nuanced taste experiences equally prioritizing heat and flavor.
Other major specialty food trends that the panel identified included an increased desire for globally inspired condiments, sauces and oils; interest in international fruit beverage and snack applications; and a continued shift toward naturally occurring sweeteners.