Bigger, bolder and beloved.  Those adjectives sum up the new product launches seen at the most recent Winter Fancy Food Show held earlier this year in San Francisco. Aside from having to expand exhibit space, the Specialty Food Association (formerly the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade),  witnessed record attendance (18,600 buyers) at the show.

“Consumers are embracing specialty food like never before and the strong numbers reflect continuing positive momentum for the industry,” says Ann Daw, the Specialty Food Association (SFA)’s president.

In keeping with that bigger, bolder and beloved theme, seasoned as well as newly arrived confectioners courted buyers with a host of sweets and treats that awakened senses and sensibilities.

Consider the following trends observed at the show:  

  •         Sweet & savory overtakes sweet & salty   
  •          Cheese ball chocolate mash-up
  •         Chocolate with a feminine mystique
  •         Continued evolution of ethical marketing

It didn’t take long for anyone walking the aisles to see examples of the sweet & savory wave: Feve Artisan Chocolatier’s award winning Pistachio Rosemary Caramel; Poco Dolce Confection’s Sweet & Savory Peanut Butter;  and Bissinger’s Chocolate-Covered Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese Wine Grapes stand out.

Of course, sweet & salty still remains popular, having long gone mainstream. In fact, some chocolatiers and confectioners , such as Katrina Markoff from Vosge Haut Chcolate, continue to tweak the bacon theme. She revised her famous Mo Bacon Bar to include a hint of cinnamon, a nod to childhood memories of Sunday morning breakfasts of cinnamon French toast and crispy bacon.

Yet, it the more expansive world of savory that caught the fancy of new and old confectioners.