What trends were on show at the Winter Fancy Food Show?

San Francisco’s biannual magnet for innovative ingredients and NPD featured gut-targeting goodies, dairy alternatives and keto-friendly eats.

28 January 2020
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The annual Fancy Food Show in San Francisco from the Specialty Food Association always features a massive variety of products, ingredients, trends and flavours from international makers and manufacturers – to the tune of over 80,000 products to sift through!

For the past five years, there’s also the Good Food Mercantile, held the day before the Fancy Food Show, featuring a highly curated group of craft and smaller brands who are Good Food Guild Members.

Here, we’ve put together a list of some of the innovations, ideas and brands that stood out at these events last week, from vegan ice lollies to gluten-free snacks.

Plant-based ‘dairy’

Milks, creamers, ice cream – everything that was once the domain of dairy had an alternative on display.

Coconut continues to reign supreme: think non-dairy frozen lollies with coffee and coconut milk (Dream Pops), dairy-free yogurt made with coconut (Harmless Harvest), dairy-free gelato made with coconut cream (O’My) and drinkable coconut yogurt with aloe vera cubes (Alove).

Newcomers also tried to carve out a niche, including hemp milk, which was presented as a creamer from Elmhurst (in hazelnut, golden milk or French vanilla), and the first oat-based powdered creamer from Nod.

Nuttin’ Ordinary and Treeline, meanwhile, supplied a couple of commendable, spreadable cashew-based 'cheeses' in flavours like Italian herb, scallion and cracked pepper.

But it was two soft-serve products that were attracting the most buzz: Eclipse makes its ice cream from cassava, corn and oat, while Frill uses whole fruit and vegetables in chocolate, berry, nutty caramel and a refreshing ‘green’ flavours. Both brands avoid tree nut milks, coconut and soy.


Apparently, there’s still life in this super spice, which appeared in pre-made golden milk/ginger latte powders as well as on-the-go turmeric latte packs from Navitas. Numi was showcasing shelf-stable daily power shots of turmeric, orange juice, ginger and coconut, while Kovikai touted raw, cold-pressed, organic ice cubes (and triangles) of turmeric or ginger to melt into teas, beverages and smoothies.

Even more original, one company was utilising the orange ingredient to create an Italian ‘toma‘ cheese (made in Piedmont), and Diaspora (in partnership with Jacobsen Salt Co.) incorporated it into a popcorn topping.

Functional beverages

Digestive support was top of mind, including daily, single-use shots of apple cider vinegar, fennel and ginger for the belly.

Apple cider (known to have prebiotic properties) was riding high, whether in vinegar sparkling drinks from Switchel (exhibited in turmeric, honey and ginger, and ginger, honey and cayenne varieties) or sparkling tonic drinks from Rebbl (ginger, turmeric, lemon and cayenne flavour, or elderberry, Assam black tea, bergamot and lemon flavour). Shrubs (non-alcoholic syrups for mixed drinks) put in a strong appearance, led by Reverend Al’s (made with raw apple cider vinegar in flavours like cucumber, lime, and mint) and Shrub Farm (shiso and citrus).

Simple plant-based tonics on show included unique flavours like nettle, pea flower and schisandra (an adaptogenic plant) for various body support functions. 

Ayurveda and adaptogens

Speaking of adaptogens, Taika is a new line of cold-brew coffee that comes in flavours like oat milk latte and macadamia latte. The recipe includes Ayurvedic medicinal ingredients like ashwagandha (for calm), lion’s mane (for clarity) and cordyceps (for energy), as well as theanine (for focus).

Ashwgandha also appeared as a Veganpop popcorn snack topping, as did curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric). Also spotted: cinnamon maca almond butter from Jem and Ayurvedic health tea from Turveda, made with turmeric, cardamom and the prebiotic chicory root – the mixture boasts 4g of organic fibre and is also available in coffee pods.


This category continues to expand, with everything from a line of keto-friendly seasonings to pre-packed keto salad toppers and snacks. Keto Pint were pitching its keto-friendly ice cream (no sugar added), while Karma Kafe had a powdered Colombian coffee mix with MCT oil and grass-fed butters.

Wheat alternative snacks

The gluten-free snack category was alive and well, with items like coconut flour tortilla chips, lentil chips, quinoa power bars, red rice crackers, artichoke chips, air-popped cassava chips, plant-based cauliflower tortilla chips and butternut squash crackers. The almost-obligatory frozen cauliflower pizza crusts were also on display.


For those who want to add a protein boost to their food, there were cricket powders from Orchestra Provisions in flavours like Himalayan sea salt, za’atar and curry powder, to be used in sauces, toppings, marinades and even for your pancakes (paired with chai spice).


In-vogue ingredients

  • Chickpea: found in spreads (chocolate, peanut butter) and in crisps (tomato, tamarind, coconut)
  • Sea buckthorn: a Siberian berry known for its nutritional properties, it appeared in preserves, honey and as an ingredient topping in Vegan Rob’s popcorn
  • Exotic fruit flavours: we’re talking about dragon fruit, acai, passion fruit and guarana, all available in smoothie-ready frozen fruit packs from Pitaya
  • Mushrooms: the latest snack treat, whether as plant-based jerky or a crunchy mouthful
  • Vegan-friendly stocks: from ‘bone broths’ in flavours like Thai-style sriracha (Kitchen Accomplice), to dashi powder made with shiitake and kombu (Umami Broth).

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