Cool mint and spicy peppers were hot at the Winter Fancy Food show in San Francisco, according to a panel of trendspotters.
Sriracha, fancy condiments, health-minded chips, low-sugar beverages and mint were the Top 5 trends spotted at the show, which featured 1,350 exhibitors and some 80,000 products.
Sriracha is expanding from the hot sauce aisle into the chip and snacks section, as the spicy, garlickly, slightly sweet Thai-style chili sauce hits the mainstream. Sriracha flavored items at the show included hummus, tortilla, chips, popcorn and even peach jam.
"Some products that we saw at the show -- like sriracha chips or even a sriracha mayo -- offer a comfortable entry point for new consumers because they can first experience the flavor in something familiar," said Denise Purcell, senior director of content development for the Specialty Food Association, which hosted the recent food show.
The original sriracha sauce developed in Los Angeles in 1983 by Huy Fong Foods founder David Tran, a Chinese-Vietnamese immigrant, has spawned a host of imitators and the image of the clear plastic bottle with a green cap and a rooster logo is now something of a foodie icon.
Purcell said chili peppers, in general, have been trending for awhile now. It's no longer a surprise to see them paired with chocolate in confections, or with caramel in dessert sauces.
Ketchup is another good entry point for consumers looking for "a taste of the unexpected in something otherwise ordinary," Fancy condiments were Purcell told UPI. "Instead of ketchup, it's ketchup flavored with truffles or maple syrup, and so on. Both the condiments and sriracha trends offer consumers a taste adventure."
Trendspotters keyed in on some of the new low-sugar products, which use real sugar instead of alternative or artificial sweeteners.
"With the low-sugar angle, people are increasingly more aware of what they are eating and drinking and the amount of low-sugar beverages we saw seems to be pointing to the idea that when consumers want the taste of sugar, they are gravitating toward the real thing, just less of it," Purcell said.
Alternative sweeteners, however, aren't old news, she said. Purcell said monk fruit, which is paired with pure cane sugar in Bruce Cost Ginger Ale "66" may be emerging as the latest alternative sweetener.
Mint seems to be making a comeback, reflecting "a turn towards the revival of simple, familiar tastes," trendspotters said. It showed up in familiar form in Seely Mint's mint patties, as well as paired with cucumber in Silk Road Soda or with hibiscus in GoodPop's All-Natural Frozen Pops.
Cinnamon was also popular at the show, popping up in things like yogurt, hummus and cheese.
"I think of the mint trend and cinnamon as standbys that are standing out," Purcell said. "They never went anywhere, but they are sort of being rediscovered."
Health-minded chips, featuring ingredients such as quinoa and seaweed, rounded out the list of of the top five food trends for 2014.
Food Trends for 2014:
-- The Jam Stand, Not Just Peachy, Sriracha Jam
-- Hope Foods, Hope Hummus Organic Sriracha Hummus
-- Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks, Simply Spicy Sriracha Tortilla Chips
-- The Popcorn Factory, Lite Works Popcorn! Sriracha
-- Vintage Italia, Pasta Chips
-- Simply 7, Quinoa Chips
-- Simply Sprouted Way Better Snack, Pita-aah Chips
-- 479˚ Popcorn, Toasted Sesame + Seaweed Popcorn
-- Rhythm Superfoods, Super Food Chips
-- Califia Farms, Pure Unsweetened Almond Milk
-- Xumma, Xumma Semi Sweet Cola
-- Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale "66"
-- Numi Organic Tea, Indulgent Tea, Chocolate Earl Grey
-- Big Tree Farms, Coco Hydro
Commit to Mint:
-- Torn Ranch, Dark Chocolate Mint Mélange
-- Silk Road Soda, Cucumber with Mint
-- GoodPop All-Natural Frozen Pops, Hibiscus Mint
-- Seely Mint, Mint Patties
-- Victoria's Kitchen, Mint & Licorice Almond Water
Condiments Dressed Up:
-- Victoria Amory, Fine Herbs Mayonnaise
-- Stonewall Kitchen, Truffle Ketchup
-- Fischer & Wieser, Salted Caramel Mustard Sauce
-- Amoretti, Premium Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil infused with Kalamata Olives
-- Lillie's Q Barbeque Sauces & Rubs