Cool food trends from the Show floor
This year, mochi, a sweet rice flour dough, and boba, tapioca pearls, are popular infusions in treats and beverages.
The 2022 National Restaurant Association Show was back in high gear. The return to the live event meant aisles were packed with foods and beverages, technology, equipment, novelties, and hospitality innovations that are driving the industry forward.
More than 1,800 companies exhibited products and services. Concentrating on food innovations, we spotted clear trends from sampling foods in all three exhibit halls:
Plant-Based Everything: Plant-based substitutes were a major theme across the expo floors reinforcing the longevity and opportunity for this category. There was a new plant-based food for every section of the menu: plant-based meats, burgers, milks, cheeses, seafood, desserts, even a sunny-side-up egg from Yo! made plant-based proteins, sunflower oil, water, flour and a few more simple ingredients.
More innovations: Violife® Mini Cheese Alternative, Good Catch Plant-Based Seafood, Eclipse Foods Plant-Based Ice Cream®
Produce Innovation: Speaking of plants, produce itself was front-and-center on the expo floors in various forms. Among our finds: pink pineapple, innovatively packaged fresh salsas, sauces and mashed avocado to minimize labor, and novel, eye-catching ingredients to capture social media attention such as, ready-to-plate microgreens and edible flowers, including Buzz Buttons.
More innovations: Hormel Guacamole, DelMonte Sweet & Smokey Peach Salsa and PinkGlow Pineapple.
Booze-Free Beverages: Non-alcohol, mocktail, booze-free, and spirit-free were common themes with beverage exhibitors. New technology is modernizing well-known brands, Hispanic and Asian heritage inspire new flavors, functional waters are filling emerging health trends, and bubble tea has hit mainstream.
More innovations: Nitro Pepsi, Minute Maid Strawberry Hibiscus Agua Fresca, Smart Water Zero Sugar Gutsy, Stubborn Soda Agave Vanilla Cream Soda
Sweet Asian Treats: Mochi (sweet rice flour dough) and boba (tapioca pearls) are being infused into sweet foods and beverages. Bursting boba filled with juices were available for sample, bubble tea ice cream debuted, and mochi brought a new spin to donuts.
More innovations: MochiFoods Mochi Donuts, Amazing Tiger Boba Ice Cream, Bossen Bursting Boba
New Twists on Classics: Many exhibitors put a new spin on classic foods. Some went from frozen to shelf-stable with new technology, some combined popular flavors, and others went from savory to sweet or vice versa.
More innovations: Smuckers Savory Uncrustables, Doritos Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch flavor, Eggo Liege Waffle (Belgian style, ready-to-eat versions), Deep River potato chips (Argentinian Chimichurri, Cheddar Horseradish, Sweet Maui Onion)