Winter Fancy Food Show 2016 Recap

logo-winter-showEarlier this week more than 15,000 foodies convened at the Moscone Center in San Francisco for the 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show, and while the gathering still very much belongs to the world of natural, specialty and gourmet foods (check out BevNET sister site Project NOSH for all that), beverages continue to increase their presence and prominence at the bi-annual trade show.

The further use of coconut as an ingredient (beyond just its juice) was one recurring trend that could be seen across a handful of brands and categories, from established leaders to first-time exhibitors. Vita Coco, for example, was at the show sampling its new chocolate variant, adding coconut milk and cocoa powder to its core product. Then there was Califia Farms, which debuted its new Better Half creamer line, a Half & Half alternative combining coconut cream and almond cream.

gI_134962_BETTERHALF_ORIGINAL_16oz_v2compressed“There are a lot of millennials who would never get near creamers because of the artificial perception of products like Coffee-Mate and International Delight,” said Califia Farms founder and CEO Greg Steltenpohl. “This product allows us to introduce them to a natural approach.”

Steltenpohl added that the addition of the coconut gave the product its “mouthfeel satisfaction” and reduced the use of gums. The company recently completed its initiative to become carrageenan-free across its entire range. Better Half, which comes in sweetened and unsweetened varieties, will also be merchandised separately from its existing creamers, allow Califia to make a move into the Half & Half section of the dairy case. The product will launch as a Whole Foods exclusive item.

Coconut cream wasn’t limited to dairy alternative products either. Jones Soda Co. is using the ingredient in its newest offering, Lemoncocco, a brand based on a classic Italian recipe blending lemon and coconut cream flavors.

Speaking of soda, that of the craft variety was another category well represented at Fancy Foods.

12445938_1037560689640376_290500849_nSipp Sparkling Organics, fresh off the announcement of the brand’s placement in 1,200 Target stores, had its upcoming line of 10.5 oz. cans on hand. In its canned format, Sipp will come in 12-packs, and while those are designed primarily for the food-service channel though they will also be sold at retail for a suggested retail price of $1.49 per can. In October the brand entered the Union Station Shake Shack in Washington, D.C. and has since entered several more of the burger chain’s locations.

Other craft soda brands with recent distribution gains at Target included DRY Sparkling, which recently entered more than 1,000 stores, and Fentiman’s, whose Curiosity Cola, Cherry Tree Cola, Rose Lemonade and Dandelion Burdock flavors can now be found at 900 Target locations nationwide.

Two and a half years after its initial launch at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, Found Beverage Co.’s infused sparkling waters came to Moscone Center by way of beverage broker Brands Within Reach, which became the exclusive distributor for the brand in the United States in 2015. Found’s still and sparkling waters are about to get a label revamp, designed for a minimalistic look. Also in attendance were Portland-based Hotlips soda, Pok Pok Som, and Joia, whose team revealed that a zero-calorie variety is in the works.

Several cocktail mixer brands doubled down on the category’s strong showing at last June’s Summer Fancy Food Show, with some companies sharing product updates just six months after making their Fancy Food debuts. Barsmith, for example, came back with two new additions to cocktail syrups line: a Shandy, made with hops and citrus and designed to be mixed with beer, and Oregeto, an almond syrup.

12556053_1537364256579289_162332289_nCocktail Crate had a new Spicy Michelada variety to sample and new placements at Whole Foods to discuss. The company recently entered Whole Foods’ Southwest and Mid-Atlantic regions by way of DPI and KeHE distributors, respectively. Also of the spicy variety was Owl’s Brew’s latest ‘Wicked Greens’, a green tea-based mixer with a kick from habanero peppers.

Hella Bitters has undergone a name change and is now known by Hella Company, a switch made to reflect the company’s widening line of cocktail products, the most recent of which include a new line of mixers available in Hibiscus, Tonic and Cola Varieties.