Specialty Foods: How They’re Shaping Restaurant Trends

Jul 08, 2024

Specialty foods, known for their unique flavors, high-quality ingredients, and artisanal methods, are revolutionizing the culinary world. From exotic spices to plant-based alternatives, these gourmet products, offer consumers global cuisine experiences and elevate everyday meals. The rising demand for premium foods is significantly influencing restaurant trends.


Summer Fancy Food Show

The 68th Summer Fancy Food Show took place at the Javits Center in NYC from June 23-25, featuring 2,400 exhibitors and attracting over 29,000 food industry professionals. The event’s keynote session, “Savoring the Future,” featured Whole Foods CEO Jason Buechel and focused on trends like gluten-free and vegan products, reflecting a shift towards healthier and climate-conscious eating habits. The SFA’s Trendspotting team also shared insights on future food trends.

Plant-based proteins, gluten-free snacks, and prebiotic drinks are trending. Hot sauces and multicultural condiments, like Salsa Macha and Filipino Hot Sauce, are in high demand. Non-alcoholic cocktails and exotic beverages like bubble tea are also growing in popularity. Sustainability and nostalgic products with personal backstories appeal to many shoppers.


Some standout products from the show include:


Flour & Olive Cake Mixes: Premium cake mixes using extra-virgin olive oil, promoting cultural diversity.

VICUS water: Mineral water restructured with quartz crystals for a smoother taste.

Aaji’s Lonsa: A spicy-sweet condiment made with Indian spices.

CauliPuffs: Gluten-free snacks made from corn, rice, and cauliflower, baked in avocado oil.

Tamarind Heads Masala BBQ Sauce: A versatile barbecue sauce with tamarind.

Ceybon Chill AF: A mushroom-infused, non-alcoholic aperitif.

MMMJerky: Crunchy teriyaki-flavored beef jerky.

Oishii Omakase Strawberries: Vertically farmed, super-sweet strawberries.

Genio Della Pizza: Hand-stretched Neapolitan frozen pizzas from Italy.


Specialty Food and Licensing


As specialty foods gain mainstream popularity, their presence in licensing is expanding. At the Summer Fancy Food Show, licensed products spanned categories from coffee and tea to hot sauces and chocolates. Specialty foods now represent 21.6% of U.S. grocery sales, amounting to $206.8 billion in 2023, a significant rise from $88 billion a decade ago, covering grocery, eCommerce, and food service channels.


The convergence of specialty foods and restaurant trends marks a shift towards more sophisticated and conscious eating. As restaurants innovate, specialty foods will remain essential in shaping the future of dining.