Food trends 2022: more milk alternatives, plant-based seafood and more

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NEW YORK — Food trends come and go, and so do denim silhouettes and hemming. And to predict what the emerging darlings of grocery store shelves will be, there’s the annual Summer Fancy Food Show, hosted here by the Specialty Food Association.

Brands around the world are showcasing their wares – from cheese to tea to chips – in hopes of catching shoppers’ attention. I made my way through the aisles of the Javits Center and scanned hundreds of products, looking for the ingredients, flavors and categories that might soon end up in your shopping cart. So what’s on the horizon? Here are some trends to watch:

“Eat more vegetables” and “stick less” don’t have to be duel goals. Of course, you can always turn to carrot sticks or cucumber slices for snacking between meals, but a new crop of crispy, salt-and-spice-dusted produce argues that potatoes shouldn’t be the king of fries.

You may have tried kale chips — or Terra chips, an old category stash — but now there are tons of new options for fresh produce. Root Foods, a Los Angeles-based company founded by chefs, has come up with a slightly mind-blowing tomato version: They’ve got all the tangy flavor of summer’s favorite fruit (yes, they’re technically not vegetables) with a crunch unknown but attractive. The company also makes crisps from bell peppers, zucchini, onions and a garden bed of green varieties including okra and asparagus. Root, like several other makers of plant-based snacks, uses a process of low-temperature vacuum frying, which, as co-founder Joshua Chen explained to me, allows the vegetables to stay intact.

Popadelics is a mushroom-focused brand that adds intense flavors to the equation, including a smoky Thai chili and truffle parmesan reminiscent of elegant risotto. Popadelics and MushGarden’s shiitake “chips” are a bit of a misnomer: They’re small (read: adorable!), whole mushrooms. The company also offered a variety of tomatoes, but instead of slices like Root’s, they were whole, grape-sized tomatoes that looked like a healthier version of the typical neon cheese puff, as well than whole cloves of garlic, which weren’t as pungent as you would think.

Rhythm, one of the more established vendors, had a range of crunchy offerings including cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, with a range of seasonings including everything bagel and buffalo-ranch-spicy. Other seasoned options included Chili Lime Avocado Chips from BranchOut.

And while they weren’t as crispy as the others, pickle company Rick’s Picks was launching new snack-size pouches, a lunchbox-friendly format for its crispy pickled vegetables, including “tangy carrot sticks.” and “tasty cauliflower florets”. ”

Judging by the aisles of the show, everything vegetal is still… well, everything. But a few vendors have stood out in the vegan sea. Seafood made from plant proteins has lagged behind beef and chicken, but it’s an interesting frontier.

Good Catch offers a wide variety of breaded products — and like the vegan chicken nuggets, the presence of a golden, crispy exterior makes the fake version more suggestive of the real thing. There were vegan fish fingers and fillets, fried shrimp, crab cakes and salmon cakes. I tried the prepared sticks in a fish taco, and between the lime aioli, coleslaw, tortilla – and the distraction of the bustling crowds – I probably wouldn’t have considered it fishless if I didn’t know better. It also offers several flavors of tuna salad (minus the titular ingredient, of course).

Current Foods was trying something even harder — the company claims its pea products are “sushi-grade” dupes for tuna and salmon. The company served cubes of “tuna” with a sesame sauce, and while the funky condiment may have masked the taste, there was no hiding the texture, which reasonably resembled fish.

A trend had less to do with ingredients or preparation, and more to do with attitude. After a few years of a global pandemic and a deluge of depressing headlines that pound us daily via our news feeds, it seems a little joy is in order.

Sure, the cranky might complain that Happy Grub’s “instant squeeze pancake mix” is fancy, or a bit unnecessary (you add water to the dry mix in the bottle, shake to mix, then throw the bottle away after having emptied it on your hot plate). But it misses the point, which is to save parents time cleaning mixing bowls, ladles and colanders (“memories instead of mess” is the company’s promise) and facilitate novelty shaped pancakes. The company had employed an artist to work on its booth, producing intricate Baby Yodas and Super Marios, but even a child could probably create a star or heart-shaped flapjack that they would be proud of.

Whipnotic’s canned whipped cream also promises an upgraded version (without gummies or artificial flavors) of what you frothed right in your mouth when your parents weren’t watching. And a new tonic cocktail from Vermont maple syrup maker Runamok is the fun guy at the party — in addition to maple and citrus, it’s shot through with an edible pearlescent sheen, thanks to tiny flecks. of mica.

Co-founder and owner Laura Sorkin said she was initially skeptical of her husband’s idea for their brilliant first product, a maple syrup, fearing it wasn’t exactly “on brand” for their business. , which has a kind of rustic and elegant aesthetic. “But it turned out he was right,” she said. “People just needed something silly, something fun. Don’t we all deserve that these days?”

Of course, honey isn’t new – the ancient Egyptians were into sweets long before today’s tastemakers. But we’ve spotted a flurry of products that’s making the old flavor buzz again.

Among the multitude of artisan makers, some are producing some interesting flavors, like Honey Gramz’ Chocolate Pomegranate Creamer, which won the show’s highest accolade in the sweetener category. Bee’s Water launched a line of lightly flavored honey waters; and a dehydrated honey powder from SoulBee can be replaced with sugar in teas and smoothies.

Every once in a while there is an alternative “It” milk. (We’re at Peak Oat Milk these days, aren’t we?) Newcomers might include dairy alternatives pressed from seed. Hope and Sesame is a line of sesame milks that claims to be more sustainably grown than some other alternative milk sources.

Sesame, said a representative, is drought resistant, needs less water than many other crops and is naturally resistant to pests and pollinators. The company makes original and flavored versions (I tried the original, which had a detectable sesame flavor) and a blended “barista” variety for the optimal latte blend.

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Sunflower seeds are the basis of the milks produced by Lattini, which have the virtue of not triggering the immune triggers of people with nut allergies. Pistachios are also having a moment: makers include Edenesque, which adds a hint of cardamom and date, and Tache (which was not an exhibitor, but I met a company representative at the show, and he was happy to hook me up with a sample). It was creamy and slightly sweet, with a nutty flavor that would work well in a chai or matcha latte.

The red-petaled hibiscus flower has a subtle fruitiness and hint of astringency, making it a flavor that adds complexity to a blend and stands on its own – and judging by the offerings in the living room, she went way beyond the cup of tea.

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It features drinks with benefits like Sunwink’s tonic which combines it with mint and ashwagandha, and a canned popping bubble tea from Inotea’s Pobble brand. Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini is the new flavor from Mingle Mocktails, a brand of soft drinks aimed at the happy hour and brunch crowd.

And it plays a supporting role in the complex strawberry and passion fruit flavor of Wildwonder, a fizzy drink that claims gut health benefits, and the Revive flavor of Hrbvor, a range of fizzy, still herbal teas, accompanied moringa leaves and lemongrass.

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