The Best Things We Saw At The Summer Fancy Food Show


By: Andy Kurtts

This past weekend, New York City hosted the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show. With over 2400 exhibitors from 50 countries, it’s one of the year’s largest gatherings of specialty food and beverage.

Not only did we get to discover some unique brands with innovative packaging, but we also get a firsthand look at what's on the horizon in the world of food. Here are a few of the emerging trends we noticed at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show.

Mocktails & Mixers

The cocktail and beverage category has seen a lot of growth in the mixers and non-alcoholic sector. TÖST is an elegantly designed and bubbly non-alcoholic beverage for those who want to celebrate with champagne, minus the alcohol. Barcoop Bevy has a super-fun, vintage, and character-driven label with unexpected twists on traditional recipes like Grapefruit Margarita, Cucumber Mojito, and Ginger Smash. Bitter Housewife, whose Cardamom Bitters won the sofi Product of the Year Award, have a glass jar shaped like a flask and custom diamond-shaped labels with a Mid-century aesthetic.


Tonics, Shrubs & Switchels

One of the hottest trends right now is tonics and shrubs, so it was no surprise we sampled a lot of them at the show. Tonics and shrubs are vinegar-based syrups and concentrated concoctions that you can either drink for health or mix into a cocktail. Fire Cider makes a traditional New England tonic based on a family recipe. Their African Bronze Honey Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic is sweet and smokey, while the design evokes a handmade, all-natural feel. Element Shrub has a clean, colorful periodic table inspired design with surprising flavors like Blueberry Rosemary and Chai Pear. Up Mountain Switchel has introduced some fizz into their apple cider vinegar drink calling it “Swizzle.” It’s lovely, effervescent quality pairs well with their bubbly, bold design.


Plant-Based Protein

Plant-based protein continues to evolve and grow, as more brands are tackling regional tastes and flavors. Yeah Dawg!!! Vegan Hot Dogs offers their take on the classic American hot dog and innovates with ingredients like potatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and sunflower seeds and bold, fun 80s skater-styled branding. No Evil, an Asheville, NC based company, shared their take on Pulled Pork BBQ and it was AMAZING - perfect texture and flavor. Their design follows a more rustic, artisan look appropriate for the category.


The Evolution of Snacking

Some of the snacks we saw were downright delicious, and it’s interesting to see how tastes are evolving across the category. Lebby makes tasty chocolate covered chickpeas and other interesting snacks, and we love their playful handwritten type and bold design. Red Clay Gourmet makes amazing pimento cheese, and they’ve created an adult-sized handi snack with a clean color badge-driven design. And then there’s Yuso, by far one of our favorite finds. Yuso is a traditional Japanese snack boxed up in a beautiful and colorful custom package inspired by origami.


Sustainability is on the Rise

Sustainability is all the rage, and from our perspective, the specialty food world has a lot of ground to cover in the packaging arena.

However, there is a focus on locally-sourced ingredients like Piper & Leaf Teas. This company sources almost all their tea ingredients from Northern Alabama while packaging everything up in a reusable, screen-printed, and colonial-styled muslin bag. La Fermière, a French yogurt, uses fancy ceramic and glass crocks for their containers. Not only does the minimal design proudly display their creamy concoctions, but they also encourage their fans to share on social media how they’ve reused the container after they've eaten the yogurt. Bee Seasonal showcases ethically-sourced honey meant to educate consumers on the importance of sustainable farming, while also connecting them with the producers. Their Harvest 001 4-Pack from Brazil features a deep blue color which complements the gold of the honey and a custom die-cut box.


Andy Kurtts

Andy Kurtts is the Owner & Creative Director for Buttermilk Creative - a packaging design studio focused on creating value for specialty food and beverage companies big and small. We believe Buttermilk makes everything better. Pancakes, doughnuts, biscuits…and, of course, brands.