Specialty Food Association Dishes on Top Trends for 2020

New York, NY—Sustainability, plant-based, and regenerative agriculture are just a few of the topics we expect to hear even more about in the upcoming year—but what else is on tap for 2020? WholeFoods Magazine spoke with Phil Kafarakis, President of Specialty Food Association (SFA), to get the gourmet take on grocery trends. With SFA’s recent rebranding reflecting the continuous development of the specialty foods industry, the association is looking at what else will be new in 2020.

“Trends are popping up all over the place and interconnecting,” Kafarakis says, explaining that in the past it was more common for a trend to sweep from one side of the country to the other. “We see trend origins all over the place. If you think of Austin, Portland, San Jose and the Bay Area, even Omaha…these are incredible entrepreneurial zones where you’re getting some great ideas for food. That’s a big part of how it’s changed the dynamic of the country.”

One major shift is the move away from conventional—shopping trends are now catering to a more adventurous shopper. The typical shopper who used to pick up milk is now choosing the almond milk that’s placed next to conventional offerings, and may pick up uniquely flavored snack for the kids, and a cereal that is certified for a sensitive diet, Kafarakis explains.  “The fact that you have consumers gravitating towards products that are wellness driven and mission based has created a sense of excitement and significant incremental growth,” he added. “The days of going to a grocery store and seeing big brands picking up the categories has come to an end.”

Trends to Watch

Upcycled foods, which are scraps of all-natural food ingredients that are turned into edible products, is one of the biggest trends right now, according to Kafarakis. More familiar trends that have already taken root, like plant-based, will also continue to see innovation and traditional categories will continue to incorporate new alternatives. One example: In recent years there has been heavy focus on superfood produce including kale, pomegranate, and cauliflower; this year, Kafaraki, expects to see Mushrooms become the star.

Here, more of top trends and trending ingredients retailers will see grow and evolve, according to Kafarakis:

  • Fermented Condiments
  • Prebiotics and Dietary Fibers
  • Barley and Buckwheat
  • Cocktails
  • Mocktails
  • CBD-Infused Products
  • Dairy Alternatives
  • Drinking Vinegars
  • Mineral-Based Beverages
  • Products with influence from West African, Korean and deep Latin American cuisines
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KeHE Lists Top 5 2020 Trends
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Also in the forecast: A focus on sustainability 

In 2020, SFA will be offering educational courses to its members that cover a range of topics to help industry professionals prepare for the future. In addition to marketing management, transportation, packaging and logistics topics for specialty food industry professionals, SFA will be working with Seeds&Chips, a global organization that speaks to a variety of social agendas, to help discuss social missions. During their themed lectures, Kafarakis says conversations around plastic, sustainability and upcycling will be major topics.