Tips From The Fancy Food Show

The $109 billion specialty food category has something to teach the wine industry.

Wine wasn’t on the trade show floor at the Winter Fancy Food Show, which closes today at the Moscone Center after three days, 15,000 exhibitors, and tens of thousands of new products on display. But, with a 15% share of all US retail food sales and 22% growth since 2012, specialty food has a wealth of lessons to offer the wine industry.

Here’s a look at prominent trends that are driving that growth. Paired with each trend are some suggestions for how wineries can apply it to their communications.

Trend: Wide diversity of cultural influences. Or, millet ramen is the new pasta.
Suggestion: With items ranging from millet ramen to habanero crystals hitting the market, your tasting notes may need a refresh. Expand the vocabulary of your notes to reflect a more diverse span of pairing suggestions and also a wider range of ingredients that are culturally familiar to broader audiences.

Trend: Vegetables are being used as an ingredient or accent in products ranging from tea to yogurt to ice cream to rhubarb sparkling beverage. Seaweed in particular is taking off.
Suggestion: Does your wine pair with vegetables? Say so, and which ones. Offer recipes that enhance the pairing. Consider targeting those recipes to the much-coveted millennial audience, which is showing signs of maturing and who, for the first time, are spending more on meal ingredients than on snacks and treats, which are favored by their younger peers.

Trend: Mushrooms are at the convergence point of three significant trends: vegetables, umami, and foraging.
Suggestion: Make this an educational opportunity. An innovative and highly aromatic product like Truffle Zest from Sabatino Tartufi could bridge the gap between what consumers smell on the plate to, immediately afterward, what they smell in their glass.

Trend: Latin food is gaining popularity at multiple levels, from food halls to high-end restaurants.
Suggestion: How does your wine pair with Latin American cuisine? Understand the flavors in order to accentuate what’s harmonious in your wine.

Trend: Convenience and simplicity.
Suggestion: Narrow the decisions consumers have to make. It makes their lives easier. For your ecommerce platform, for example, adjust settings and interface to streamline purchases. Note, however, that simple does not mean boring. Every so often, present a “reach” offering that’s indulgent or adventurous.

Cathy Huyghe is the author of Hungry for Wine: Seeing the World through the Lens of a Wine Glass. Find her online at