Summer Fancy Food Show Recap

Between the sweltering summer heat outside and the three levels worth of exhibitors on the inside, the 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show had enough to help attendees work up a sweat. Held July 1-3 at the Javits Center in New York City, this year’s event featured new products and brands that reflected some of the larger trends influencing the non-alcoholic beverage space as a whole.

As plant-based milks continue to grow in popularity, the category has responded with innovation and a rise in sophistication. Milkadamia, for example, shared a new three-SKU line of creamers made with raw macadamias and coconut cream that were luxurious and indulgent, particularly the rich fudge flavor. Elsewhere, Colorado-based CoYo poured samples from its dairy-free coconut milk kefir line, slated to launch around September in vanilla, natural and mango flavors.

Meanwhile, Elmhurst Dairy showed its own ambition to create an expansive platform around non-dairy products, one that is now up to 11 SKUs, with more on the way. At the booth, the company talked about its newest launch – unsweetened SKUs for its milked cashews and milked walnuts flavors – but fliers behind the table teased more innovations to come, including 32 oz. barista blends for its oat, almond and hazelnut milks and a line of plant-based protein drinks (20 g each) that should be rolling out sometime this fall.

The growth of dairy-free alternative milks has been partially fueled by coffee. Wandering Bear shared a new mocha flavor in its 12 oz. single-serve TetraPak line made with a splash of coconut milk, which began rolling out to retailers last month. Rise also had samples of its forthcoming nitro-infused canned lattes, two of which are made with oat milk – which thanks to Oatly has become a particular favorite for baristas at high-end cafes.

Matcha also seemed to be at the center of new innovations from several tea brands at Fancy Foods. New York-based MatchaBar shared the newest addition to its 10 oz. bottled lineup, a lemonade matcha. Elsewhere, Harney & Sons featured a new white peach matcha SKU in its lineup of RTD cold teas. And, in addition to an organic version of its unsweetened iced tea, Japanese tea giant Ito En had a new cold-brewed version of its popular “oi ocha” matcha green tea.

CBD has been one of the most hotly debated functional ingredients in beverage, particularly as more states have begun relaxing regulations around cannabis-based products. In a sign of its appeal, GT’s Kombucha shared samples of a new variety infused with 10 mg of CBD per serving. The flavor available on tap – a combination of pineapple, ginger, turmeric and lemon – is one of three SKUs from the Cannabliss line, which are currently rolling out in kegs and will eventually be added to the brand’s retail offerings.

Mixers and craft soda brands were also particularly active at this year’s Fancy Food Show. DRY Soda debuted two new limited edition Winter Celebration SKUs, Cranberry and Blood Orange, packaged in elegant 750mL champagne-style bottles. Meanwhile, Grown Up Soda refreshed the packaging on its core line to GuS, moving away from soda while highlighting a “less sugar” call out. In terms of new products, Crafted Cocktails shared new Mai Tai and Strawberry Daiquiri flavors for its mixer line, while Owl’s Brew had a Watermelon Margarita and a Strawberry Manhattan.

Several brands also used this year’s show as a platform to launch new products or showcase new looks. Brooklyn Crafted shared a redesigned logo and text that clearly separates it from its sister brand, Bruce Cost Ginger Beer. Meanwhile, along with a shelf-stable coconut milk that will hit stores by the end of Q3, Brazilian coconut water maker Obrigado presented two new SKUs blended with juice: Mango Acerola and Pineapple.

Further afield, the show also saw the early development of what could be a new category: non-alcoholic “wine water.” Two brands – O.Vine and Napa Hills – shared samples of their respective products, waters infused with the skin of wine grapes for flavor and antioxidant benefits.