With its focus on the boutique, innovative and premium, Speciality & Fine Food Fair is fertile hunting ground for trend-spotters. This year’s event was no exception with a few clear product trends apparent beyond the increasingly mainstream free-from and vegan:
A number of companies are using wood smoke to add layers of flavour complexity to their products. Both Anglesey’s
Halen Môn and London’s
Eaten Alive picked up three Great Taste stars for their Smoky Dijon Mustard and Smoked Sriracha.
Hawkshead smokes cashews, sugar and salt over whisky cask oak sourced from Scottish distilleries. Their smoked syrup was delicious with a range of versatile uses from in cocktails and coffee to poured over ice cream.
Fire Grain’s high protein and fibre ancient grain freekeh has a beguiling smoky note due to its roasting over an open fire.
From Mosaic and Galaxy to Chinook and Simcoe, the craft beer movement has popularised the use of modern hop varietals and their citrusy and tropical flavour profiles. Hopping is increasingly being used in other drinks categories too.
Wye Valley Meadery’s easy drinking 5.5% ABV sparkling Honey & Hops mead is cold infused with cascade hops. Meanwhile, hopped kombuchas included
Willy’s Hemp and Hop Alcohol Free Kombucha Beer and
L.A Brewery’s Citrus Hops Kombucha brewed with Citra and Cascade hops.
Premium alcohol free
number of teetotal adults in the UK on the rise, especially amongst younger age groups, the trend for premium alcohol-free drinks started by Seedlip was one of the most common on show.
Gimber’s intense yet well balanced aperitif is made with a combination of organic ginger from Peru, lemon and herbs.
Soof’s range of adult cordials is made from nothing but fruit, vegetables and herbs and comes in unique flavour combinations such as sweet potato, apple and cinnamon.
/Shrb Prohibition Soda make hand brewed soft-drinks using a range of botanical ingredients steeped in apple cider vinegar. They’re a nod to shrubs, drinks made with a vinegared syrup which were popular in 18th century America.
Pairing food and alcohol
If you’re spending a premium on craft drinks then you may as well spend a bit more on snacks to go with them.
The Drinks Bakery make savoury biscuits that have been flavour profiled to match different drinks. Pecorino, Pear and Scottish Seaweed is matched to gin and tonic whilst Lancashire Cheese and Spring Onion is matched to hoppy IPAs and stouts.
Chief Chocolate Officer make the world’s first chocolate bars that are flavoured to match wine. Milk chocolate with pear and elderflower is paired with the floral notes of sauvignon blanc whilst milk chocolate with coffee, cherry and cacao is designed to complement a berry rich pinot noir.
CBD oil, a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in cannabis, is becoming increasingly popular for its use in calming anxiety. But it’s not without controversy and consumer confusion due to its association with cannabis and the fact 36% of consumers mistakenly believe it’s psychoactive (source:
Trip premium drinks have a hip brand designed to appeal to millennials and Gen Z’s with each can containing 15mg of CBD, no added sugar, less than 20kcals and a number of other functional ingredients such as ginseng and turmeric.
The Painted Peacock produce handmade and finely decorated chocolates including one infused with raw CBD in 60% dark chocolate ganache. Hints of fresh mint balance the herby notes from the CBD.
Teas for Children
Tea isn’t a drink which you’d normally associate with children. But, two award-winning companies make bespoke fruit teas just for children’s palates which are naturally caffeine free and contain no added sugar.
Tom's Teas are inspired by desserts with flavours such as cherry pie and rhubarb and custard, whilst
Small & Wild's bold and vibrant flavours include Jolly Croc Tea with banana, strawberry and apple.
Innovative snack ingredients
The snack category is never short of innovative ingredients and this year was no exception.
Pastinos are made with 100% pasta and are vegan, nut and soya free. They’re available in five Italian-influenced flavours including arrabbiata and chianti & olive. South African company
Southlander produce crisps made with spent grain from beer brewing. Made using whole grains, they’re high in protein and fibre and a clever way of putting waste to good use.
Two companies used vegetables to pep-up their snacks.
Rootles is a healthier ‘grab-n-go’ chocolate covered snack biscuit containing over 40% sweet potato and carrot. They’re a source of fibre and contain less than 100 calories per serving.
Shore make seaweed puffs in flavours such as lime, chilli and coconut. Their aim is to create a sustainable edible seaweed industry of scale in Scotland and each pack contains 6g of seaweed.
Other innovative products
These innovative products can’t be grouped under a single trend but they’re still worth a mention.
Oggs vegan and egg free cakes are made with aquafaba (chickpea water); their salted caramel sponge tasted just as good as the real thing.
Sleep Well is a functional drink that aims to help people get a better night’s sleep. This long life drink is made with whole Jersey milk, honey and valerian, a herb that’s been helping people sleep for 2000 years.
Huitlacoche is also known as the "Aztec caviar". It’s an edible mushroom that grows on ears of corn. It’s pretty ugly to look at but it’s rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and most importantly tastes delicious.