8 Trends from Natural Products Expo East 2017

Last weekend, we took a trip to Baltimore for Natural Products Expo East 2017, where hundreds of exhibitors came out from all over the country (and, in some cases, the world) to show the industry what they have to offer. While events like this are a magnet for unique, one-of-a-kind products, there were still some emerging trends that caught our attention. Here are eight trends that we noticed beginning to sweep the natural foods category:

Alternative Ingredients for Special Diets

 

 

Can’t have dairy? Fronana and Revolution Gelato are here to make sure that you can still enjoy a creamy, frozen treat. Can’t have meat? Jackfruit is finally coming into its own as a remarkably meat-like option – the samples of BBQ pulled jackfruit from the Jackfruit Company were practically indistinguishable from chicken or pork. Can’t have eggs, wheat, fish, milk, soy, shellfish, peanuts, or tree nuts? The dietitian behind Crunchy Kitchen feels your pain. After developing severe allergies following the birth of her daughter, she and her husband developed a line of wraps and waffles that feature plantains as a primary ingredient and are free of the top eight allergens.

Kombucha

 

While kombucha has been rapidly growing in popularity as a bottled beverage, we weren’t anticipating the sheer volume of kombucha brands present at the expo. Flavored with everything from lavender to cola, we are getting far more varieties of the fermented tea than we’ve ever seen before. If the expo is any indicator of what’s to come, we could soon see kombucha move out of the niche health space and expand even further into the mainstream.

Sap Drinks

 

 

With the demand for natural sweeteners continuing to grow, beverages that feature ingredients like maple and honey are taking off. Maple also pairs well with fruit, giving producers a wide range of options for flavor combinations.

 

Nuts and Seeds

 

 

The rhetoric around nut allergies is changing, and it’s probably not a coincidence that we are now seeing more and more products featuring nuts. For those whose systems can handle them, nuts are a very healthy snack that can be eaten raw or, increasingly, used as an alternative to dairy.

 

Organic Eggs

 

 

One of the more surprising trends that we noticed was a push for organic eggs. While several brands were selling eggs in traditional cartons, some brands are highlighting the specialness of their product by using alternative packaging, like bags.

 

RTD Coffee

 

 

With McDonald’s selling bottled McCafe drinks, the market is clearly embracing ready-to-drink coffee. Most brands are attempting to differentiate their product in some way, whether in packaging (ie., selling in cans rather than bottles), flavor profile (ie., removing the bitterness for a softer taste), or properites (ie., combining the coffee with an energy drink).

 

Squeezable Pouches

 

 

It’s arguable that brands like Yoplait pioneered this area years ago with products like Go-Gurt, but with the success of GoGo Squeeze (both with consumers and with valuable corporate partners), many more brands are coming out with drinkable products in pouches. Some brands like Once Upon a Farm have developed more traditional products like squeezable fruit blends and puddings, while others are using the packaging for more unusual snacks. Serenity Kids, for example, is using the packaging for savory meat-and-vegetable pastes.

 

Tea

 

 

Possibly due in part to the popularity of kombucha, tea also made a major splash at the show. Instagram favorite Fit Tea was there, as was Moonshine Tea (which partners with children’s charities), and Cusa Tea. Like the RTD coffee category, tea brands are setting themselves apart by offering some kind of added value. Fit Tea is for dieting and detoxing, for example, and Cusa Tea is a convenient choice as a premium instant tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yum: Ruby Chocolate and the History of Chocolate Innovation

On Tuesday, September 5th, 2017, Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut announced in a press release that they had invented a brand-new type of chocolate. Called “ruby chocolate” after its natural rosy pink coloring, the candy is said to be wildly different from traditional milk, dark, or even white chocolate in both flavor and appearance. Despite having no fruit flavoring (which might be expected, considering its hue), Barry Callebaut has said that their new chocolate has a smooth, berry-like taste.

The inventors of the chocolate have described the product’s coming launch as an attempt to “satisfy a new consumer need found among millennials – hedonistic indulgence,” fulfilling that desire simply by being exciting and different.

The attractive color definitely doesn’t hurt the candy’s chances in this market, as young consumers have a history of embracing colorful foods. From rainbow bagels to black ice cream to Unicorn Frappuccinos, snacks that have a bold aesthetic are an in-demand commodity in the Instagram age.

Some have questioned whether or not it’s a good idea to mess with such a classic and beloved treat. The love of chocolate seems to be such a universal feeling that is has practically become cliché, and many consumers have a strong emotional investment in the sweet. From the Mayans to today’s trick-or-treaters, countless generations of enthusiasts from around the world have indulged and been delighted by the confection.

 

Chocolate has been around for centuries (early evidence of chocolate consumption has been dated as far back as 1900 B.C.), but the current trifecta of milk, dark, and white chocolate is a far more recent development than you might expect.

White chocolate was first launched by Nestle in Europe in the 1930s. It purportedly originated as a means of using up excess cocoa butter, as the product is made with a very high cocoa butter content. Today, cocoa butter must account for at least 20% of a white chocolate bar for it to legally qualify as such.

It wasn’t until 1948 that Nestle brought white chocolate to the U.S. on a mass scale, beginning with the almond-filled Alpine White chocolate bar. The bar was well-received and was available to consumers until the 1990s, when it was eventually discontinued.

Nestle was also involved in the creation of milk chocolate in the mid-1870s, as Henri Nestle, who invented powdered milk, helped inspire his friend and neighbor Daniel Peter to start adding milk to chocolate bars. Together they formulated the first successful milk chocolate recipe, which would go on to become a sensation.

Chocolate bars themselves had only been invented forty years prior to Nestle and Peter’s breakthrough, in 1847. Joseph Fry, in discovering a chocolate formulation that could be molded and would hold its shape, brought “eating chocolate” into the world, which had previously only known of chocolate as an ingredient in beverages.

All of this is to say that such a radical shake-up in the chocolate world is not as far-fetched as it may initially sound. We don’t yet know when ruby chocolate will be made commercially available, but it is entirely possible that it could change the game in ways we can’t yet imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Trends from the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show

 

According to the Specialty Food Association, the Summer Fancy Food Show is North America’s largest trade show for the specialty food industry. As such, it is the perfect place to scope out what sorts of new tastes are being explored by brands, and what trends are emerging as a result. Here are the top seven flavor trends that we noticed after attending last week:

 

1) Meat-Free

 

From eggless mayonnaise to fish-less fish cakes (which are made up primarily of beans), vegan products were out in full force this year. As more consumers become aware of the environmental ramifications of meat cultivation, meatless alternatives are gaining a lot of attention.

With the push for more protein-rich goods that are free of animal products, we were surprised at how few brands were incorporating insects into their food. Known to be full of protein, not unpleasantly flavored, and far more eco-friendly than livestock, insect-enriched products would have seemingly fit right in at this show. It feels like every year we say that consumers are close to embracing the idea of eating insects, yet once again it appears that the industry still isn’t feeling the love.

2) Veggie Snacking

 

 

Not so surprisingly, vegetable-based snacks continue to serve as a substitute for fatty products like potato chips and pretzels. Crunchy brussels sprouts, popped lotus seeds, seaweed crisps, and beet crackers all offer consumers easy ways to bring more vegetables into their diet without sacrificing snacktime.

Notably, vegetables are now being combined with more sweet treats – Biena, for example, won a Sofi prize for their roasted chickpeas covered in caramel and chocolate. Several other brands showed up with some variation of sweetened sesame bars, which could be an alternative to granola.

3) Coconut

Coconut sugar, coconut clusters, even coconut-flavored cheese – everywhere you turned, somebody had figured out a new thing to do with coconuts. Many of these products were honored with Sofi awards, particularly those that are intended for snacking, like World Finer Foods’ GoCo Crunchy Coconut Bites.

 

4) Spiced and Textured Beverages

 

We first anticipated the spiced drink trend back when Pepsico announced their limited edition Pepsi Fire flavor. Our prediction was confirmed when the most beloved non-Starbucks drink on Instagram, Blk. Water, came to the Fancy Food Show with somewhat savory new flavors like “Spicy Black Cherry” and “Peach Mango Basil”. One of the busiest booths at the show was relative newcomer H2rOse, a beverage brand that infuses water with roses and saffron.

The show also featured a range of textured beverages, with several aloe drink, puree, and chia seed drink brands in attendance. Aloe-based beverages are often a little thicker than a traditional juice, with variations in “globiness” depending on brand. As soda sales slip, unique drinks like these have an opportunity to expand their market.

5) Beets

 

 

Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that beets were going to be the next major superfood, and the trend has continued into 2017. Not only do beets give products an exciting, eye-catching color – which is helpful for standing out at an event like the Fancy Food Show, which features thousands upon thousands of options – they also are rich in antioxidants and nutrients. Love Beets came to the show with a variety of beet products, including organic beet juice and a mixable beet powder.

 

6) Cold Soup

Tio Gazpacho and Fawen are just two of the cold, drinkable soup brands that presented at this year’s show. With the beverage industry starting to pull away from sugar and playing with savory flavors, it makes sense that vegetable-heavy drinks would shine.

 

7) Allergy-Sensitive Products

In addition to all of the meat-free products at the show, a number of brands came with gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free snacks and beverages for intolerant consumers. New Jersey company No Whey! Foods presented an assortment of popular candy alternatives, like “Pea NOT Cups”, chocolate cups filled with sunflower seed butter rather than peanut butter. Many of the products in this category are also vegan and/or kosher, and incorporate other trendy ingredients like coconuts and agave.

 

 

Package Design Trend: Dramatic Callouts

As consumers become more resolute in their preferences for trends that have been growing over the past few years (“simple” ingredients, environmentally-friendly production practices, etc.), brands are responding by dramatically highlighting these traits in their packaging. This has proved successful for many breakout brands, and this strategy should be considered in order to show potential consumers that their needs are the primary concern of the company.

rxbar

 

Protein bar manufacturer RXBAR took a pretty big gamble when they shrunk their logo by 60% in their 2017 package redesign. Their risk paid off enormously – by making the ingredients (which are easy for buyers to understand, a valued feature for modern shoppers) the star of the design, they launched their product into third place in its category.

 chia

KIND chose a similar strategy with their line of pressed bars, minimizing their brand name in order to free up room for the ingredients to shine. The company states that each bar adds two servings off fruit to one’s daily routine, and that the snack is made with just fruit and vegetables or fruit and chia. The packaging callouts emphasize this “simple” makeup.

daytm

This packaging from design agency mousegraphics reads like a recipe, taking what RXBAR has done a step further. While the funky hand-drawn typeface is a little difficult to read, the flavors are easily distinguished because whichever ingredient is most present in each bar gets a corresponding color and small illustration at the bottom. The project won a 2017 Dieline Award for Outstanding Achievement.

halotop

Halo Top majorly disrupted the ice cream category with its loud display of its outrageously low calorie count. The treat is made with stevia instead of sugar, meaning that the brand is able to differentiate themselves from fatty, indulgent competitors. Here, this fact is the hero of the packaging, as the calories-per-pint count is the first thing that draws the consumer’s eye.

water4change

Water for Change, which donates 10 liters of water to villagers in need for every carton purchased, won an A’Design Award for this packaging. The hand-to-hand illustration clearly calls out the value that the product offers beyond its basic function, and floating words like “eco friendly” and “sustainable” further express the image of environmental health that the brand is trying to promote.

 

 

The Present and Future of Alcohol

Alcohol is a multibillion-dollar market in the US, one that must constantly evolve in order to keep up with changing consumer needs. The category has seen some serious innovation so far this year, and our understanding of where the industry is now has provided us with some pretty significant clues as to where we can expect it to go in the near future.

The Present: Millennials Don’t Have Brand Loyalty

 

Alcohol1

According to a recent Nielsen study, last month only 24% of millennials knew what brand they wanted to purchase when they entered a liquor store. This is in stark contrast to 52% of baby boomers, who tend to have more developed, concrete preferences in this category. The study also found that just 11% of millennials bought alcohol on impulse.

What This Means for the Future

 

Alcohol brands can look at millennials’ lack of brand loyalty as an opportunity to have greater influence in-store, which means more investment in assets like package design and in-store advertising. Additionally, brands can be expected to make stronger attempts at building relationships with consumers via social media engagement.

The Present: Heineken Just Debuted a Non-Alcoholic Beer

Alcohol2

Heineken just released “Heinken 0.0” in order to compete with industry giants like AB InBev, which has made it their goal for 20% of their beer to be low- or zero-alcohol within the next eight years. Non-alcoholic beer manufacturers are also seeing the product as a potential rival to soft drinks, which have been losing retail momentum to lower-calorie options (Heineken 0.0 has half the calories of Coca-Cola).

What This Means for the Future

 

Beer brands – as well as other alcohol manufacturers – are going to start considering the financial promise of alternative markets. While producing non-alcoholic beverages may seem like an odd departure from convention for Heineken, research has shown that the European market for non-alcoholic beer has grown over the past five years as the overall beer market shrank. In Spain, zero-alcohol beers have as much as 10% market share. The future of the alcohol industry is going to depend on identifying and supporting niche trends like this that show potential for going global.

 

The Present: “Poptails” are Taking Off in the US

Alcohol3

The recent trend of “sloshies” (frozen alcoholic slushies, usually with a white wine base) has now evolved into “poptails”, frozen alcoholic popsicles. Initially introduced into the UK market, the treat has just become available in the US through brands like FrutaPop. Each pop in this particular brand has 5% alcohol and comes in thirteen flavors, including Sparkling Prosecco, Cranberry Mojito, Pina Colada, Rum Punch, and White Coconut Sangria.

What This Means for the Future

 

Innovation in the alcohol industry is trending towards understanding the consumer’s environment. Both poptails and sloshies appeal to young people drinking outdoors – summertime parties, poolside lounging, and beach trips are all served well by these products. Additionally, freezing the drink allows brands to incorporate the kind of special cocktail features that one could find in a bar, like the sprig of mint encased in the boozy Watermelon Mint Lemonade Pop. Finding ways to include these types of added-value traits is going to be imperative for new product development.

 

The Present: e-Commerce is Changing the Game

Alcohol4

The explosion in popularity of both online shopping and subscription box services is affecting the way that alcohol brands are packaging their products. Bulky, heavy glass bottles were never especially ideal for shipping from warehouses to retail locations, and they are doubly impractical for direct mailing. UK startup Garcon Wines has been in the news lately for their ingenious flat bottle design, intended to make the wine easier to fit through a traditional English letterbox.

 What This Means for the Future

 

Alcohol manufacturers (particularly wine companies) will begin straying from classic bottle designs and will start looking towards new solutions that preserve the product in a lightweight, yet functional way. It can be as simple as following Garcon Wines’ example with more compact structures, or brands can go as far as Bota Box has with their award-winning cartons, which are both much lighter and far less prone to breaking than standard wine bottles.

Alcohol5

As more brands begin to focus their attention on e-commerce rather than retail, design strategy will move away from what looks best on the shelf and will instead consider what will provide the easiest means of quickly transporting the alcohol to the consumer.

 

Flavors of America

At the end of last month, Hershey’s began rolling out their “Flavors of America” campaign, which has the company including signature regional tastes and ingredients into varieties of some of their most beloved products. So far, options include:

 

1)   Reese’s Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cups, for Georgia

reese'sgeorgia

2)   Hershey’s Cherry Cheesecake Chocolate Bars, for New York

 

cherrycheesecakehersheys

3)   Strawberry KitKats, for California

strawberrykitkats

4)   Orange Cream Pop and Key Lime Pie Twizzlers, for Florida

 twizzlers 2

twizzlers

5)   PayDay BBQ, for Texas

Flavor-Texas-PayDay-BBQ

6)   Hershey’s Coconut Almond Kisses, for Hawaii

Flavor-Hawaii-Hershey-Kisses-Chocolates-Coconut-Almond-Flavor

This campaign is very much on trend, as food brands are becoming increasingly local. For example, last year ConAgra launched new Slim Jim flavors inspired by regional cuisine, including New York Buffalo Style, Philly Cheesesteak, and Cali Taco. Interestingly, Jill Dexter, brand director from Slim Jim, referred to this rollout as their “Flavors of America” platform. Not only is the concept growing in popularity, the name itself is being applied across different companies.

SlimJim_Embedded

2016 also saw granola producer Maple Nut Kitchen combining two major trends into one campaign with the release of four regional flavors for their Paleo line: Northern Berry Harvest, Eastern Apple Pecan, Southern Cherry Almond, and Western Cocoa Cayenne.

 maplenutkitchen

Frito-Lay might actually be at the top of the regional flavor game, and they’ve been doing it for a long time. It was way back in 2011 that Lay’s introduced three localized varieties at once, with Honey Mustard for the Northeast, Creamy Garden Ranch for the Midwest, and Chipotle Ranch for the Southwest. Even prior to that, they released Balsamic Sweet Onion in the Northwest and Cajun Herb & Spice in the Southeast. As far back as the early 2000s, the company experimented with options such as Chicago Steakhouse Loaded Baked Potato, Santa Fe Ranch, and San Antonio Salsa. Similar to ConAgra and Hershey’s, Frito-Lay predictably named that campaign “Tastes of America”.

lay's honey mustard

Some of Lay’s regional flavors have been so popular that the company transitioned them into national rollouts, such as Garden Tomato & Basil. Unlike Hershey’s, which is rolling out their “Flavors of America” varieties across all regions, Frito-Lay tends to initially introduce a regional flavor into its appropriate local market.

Taking flavor inspiration from local tastes is huge in the snack category, and the trend is expected to continue gaining momentum. Not only does the practice help tailor products to markets based on preferences, it also gives big brands an opportunity to connect more personally with consumers across the nation (and beyond). By incorporating ingredients and styles of various areas of the country, national brands like Hershey’s are able to compete at the local level with smaller companies.

For example, one of Hawaii’s most popular candies, simply called Coconut Balls, comes from local company Hawaii Candy. It is easy to see the similarities between this coveted confection and Hershey’s Hawaiian treat, Coconut Almond Kisses.

coconut balls

It is unclear right now whether or not Hershey’s intends to develop flavors for all fifty states, or how Californians, Hawaiians, Floridians, Georgians, Texans, and New Yorkers will react to Hershey’s attempt at capturing their distinct local tastes. The campaign definitely has an interesting concept behind it, and other brands that are considering localization will surely be watching to see how successful it is.

Four Branding Trends from Expo West 2017

Chris Burton, our Art Director, travelled all the way to Anaheim last week for Expo West 2017. The four-day event is the country’s largest natural foods show, and it gives industry professionals the opportunity to see what’s in store for the future of organic foods. Shifts in consumer tastes usually lead to major design shakeups, and here are four of the biggest packaging trends that we noticed.

HandmadeFotoJet Collage1

With consumers becoming increasingly interested in buying local small-batch products, branding is taking on a distinctly “handmade” look. Handwritten logos, drawings, and rough edges are all major trends, as brands are moving away from the overly polished “hipster” look of the last few years in favor of appearing wholesome and healthy.

ProteinFotoJet Collage2 Protein is in everything right now, from plant milk to pancakes (FlapJacked wins best name). As a result, we’re seeing categories looking a lot more diverse than they have in the past. For example, protein-packed cookie brand Bite Fuel is using a very heavy black font in all of its branding, which is unrecognizable from the bright colors and gentle script of more familiar players like Mrs. Fields and Famous Amos.

With this sudden interest in protein, we’re also seeing more artisanal varieties of meaty products like beef jerky. Duke’s came to Expo West with dried brisket and Cajun-style dried sausages, with elegant packaging that highlights the seasonings and flavor additives over the meat.

This protein phenomenon is manifesting itself in two ways – products that traditionally would not contain much protein are being set apart with strong, commanding designs, and products that have always been known to be great sources of protein are trying to appeal to new consumers.

 

Animal ImageryFotoJet Collage3

Consumers want to feel closer to the food that they eat, which means becoming more comfortable with the animals at the source. Meats, cheeses, and flavored snacks are all beginning to feature realistic depictions of livestock, sometimes using straight-up photographs.

Meat-and-dairy-free products are using images of animals as well. Los Angeles’s Kombucha Dog, for instance, puts photos of homeless dogs from local shelters on their labels, using store shelf space to help them find homes.

MascotsFotoJet Collage4

Mascots were all over the place this year, which is interesting for a natural foods show – mascots are most commonly associated with sugary cereals and fast food. Brands are now recognizing that mascots can help build relationships with consumers, who can feel personal and emotional connections to them. They can also considerably boost a brand’s recognition potential, which is especially attractive for new products in crowded categories.

 

5 Emerging Packaging Design Trends

While each client and project are different, knowing what design trends are more popular can get you going in the right direction and will give you an idea of how consumers will interact with the product. Consider mobile-engaged packaging, personalized packaging, and digital print to create more personalized experiences for consumers. To engage consumers on a personal level and provide them with an experience through packaging, consider the following packaging design trends.

Simplicity

t-shirt-packaging-design-the-t-shirt-01Consumers are overwhelmed with the choices available to them, so sometimes, it’s best to just keep things simple. Clean, clear labeling and minimalist packaging can help to get the point across quickly, with no fluff. It also creates brand transparency and increases buyers’ confidence. When consumers are looking for products that can simplify their lives, they are attracted to minimal packaging that is simple (not boring) and instantly answers the questions they are asking. By identifying what the consumer needs and expressing how your product can fulfill that need (in no uncertain terms), your packaging will be more powerful and instill trust with your audience.

Geometric Shapes

jeannieburnside_meld_5Screen-Shot-2016-01-15-at-2.50.19-PM-768x321Geometric patterns and shapes are visually appealing and can fit nearly any product. Using familiar colors and shapes can provide a simplistic approach that reaches consumers in a nostalgic way.

Vintage

038a433ff8e7485a5846c156265aea80static1.squarespace-2Old-fashioned packaging design focuses on the good ole’ days. Modernizing old design trends and presenting vintage packaging, with emphasis on calligraphy and letterpress, will relate your packaging to something of higher value.

Enhanced Shelf Life

05967f81b443a987d367f4763a7ba606Most designers believe in the standard that your packaging should be able to stay on the shelf for approximately three to five years. However, it can remain on your customer’s home shelves for just as long. That’s why it’s important to design unique packaging that looks good both in the store and at home. By accounting for how it will look on the shelves in the store, you can attract more new customers. By accounting for how it will look on the shelves at home, you can keep your current customers satisfied. It also encourages consumers to leave the packaging out on the counters more often (instead of hiding them in the cabinet), which results in free advertising for anyone who sees the item.

Sustainable Packaging

c8371dabd11828690cc7e2df6231717apd-19Sustainable packaging offers a more environmentally friendly option, which can still be functional and beautiful. It can also empower social consciousness overall. Choosing green, socially responsible packaging is good for your business, the environment, and your bottom dollar. Successful sustainable packaging needs to be less disposable and have the smallest possible impact on the environment. This can include using recycled materials to produce the packaging and/or encouraging customers to repurpose the packaging after the contents are gone.

Have you noticed other emerging design trends that we missed?

Retro Packaging Is All the Rage

Today’s world is fast, non-stop, and all about constant communication and information gathered through our phones and tablets. But even in this modern, technology-driven world, sometimes looking back to simpler times is the best way to draw customers, and that’s where retro packaging comes in.

Retro packaging hits people’s sense of nostalgia, and also implies longevity. When a well-known company brings back old designs, or designs a new look that looks vintage, it reminds people that the brand has been around a long time. For example, M&Ms are marking their 75th anniversary and is rolling out several designs inspired by its packaging over the years, but at the same time are also introducing new flavors of the beloved chocolate candy.

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New companies are also savvy enough to take advantage of the retro look. In 2012 for instance, Small Town Brewery, in Wauconda, Illinois, introduced Not Your Father’s Root Beer, an alcoholic beer with a root beer taste, with packaging featuring a man dressed in 19th-century clothing. Other features of the logo included a barrel and old-style fonts. Even the cardboard container for the beer’s six-pack is designed to look like a small wooden crate.

“Retro packaging and labeling carry the appeal of quirkiness and nostalgia, and they project authenticity to shoppers,” says Bruce D. Sanders, a consumer psychologist, retail consultant and author of “Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers.”

He notes that during a three-week stretch in 2011, Heinz Ketchup re-introduced its eight-sided glass bottle from the 1990s; Hostess Cakes used retro packaging; and PepsiCo rolled out throwback versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew.

“But trends do have a freshness date,” he says. “The special edition of Heinz Ketchup disappeared after five months. The Hostess Cakes items made their Brigadoon-style appearance for one month.”

The bad economy that has marked much of the 2000s is one reason for all of this looking-back, according to Sanders.

“Nostalgia is more attractive to shoppers during times of uncertainty, such as from economic downturns or social isolation,” he says. “Consumer behavior researchers find that when people are feeling lonely, they get interested in nostalgia. In one study, when consumers were made to feel socially uncertain by the experimental manipulation, they became more likely to prefer automobile makes, food brands, TV shows, movies, and even shower soaps which reminded them of their personal history.”

He adds that some brands are “perennially retro,” such as L.L. Bean and Restoration Hardware.

“They aim to project authenticity via continuity,” Sanders says. “A retro image is associated in shoppers’ minds with a store being in business for a long time, carrying trustworthy merchandise and staffed with reliable people.”

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Isaac Cohen, Chairman of the JNCO clothing line, says the company has embraced its retro roots.

“Back in the ’90s, JNCO was an international sensation thanks to its comfortable wide-legged jeans and non-conformist philosophy that represented the best of retro SoCal culture,” Cohen says. “When we revived the brand in 2015, we tried to reinvent the brand and the style of our clothes to match the modern trends. This approach yielded moderate success, but after answering the pleas from our followers asking for a return to our ’90s styles, our revival really took off. For our die-hard follower base, our retro products and packaging have worked to our advantage and helped strengthen our overall brand.”

Randy Gunter is the owner of the Gunter Agency, a marketing, advertising and design firm. His company acquired a consumer company, McNess Consumer Products, last October. McNess has been selling home, health and cleaning products since the early 20th century, and Gunter is emphasizing the company’s long history with its packaging.

“McNess has been around since 1908 and we are in the process of changing some of the packaging, but everything is with a retro design,” Gunter says. “When we took over, there was a lot of inconsistency. There are still some products that need to be changed yet, but we’re doing that when we need to replace inventory… We’re in the process of also bringing back several old products that had been discontinued.

So when it comes to retro packaging, you could say that everything old is new again.

Some Thoughts on the 2015 Fancy Food Show

Earlier this week we sent Kory Grushka, our Director of Business Development, to the Fancy Food Show in NYC to study up about the latest trends in the world of retail food. He was also tasked with gorging himself with hundreds of thousands of small gourmet food samples. To that end, we are happy to report that Kory was up to the task, as both objectives were met with resounding success. Below are some of his thoughts and observations from the show:

Obviously this year’s show was full of natural, organic, gluten-free and other healthy food products – both new and old. These are trends that are clearly here to stay and many (if not most) of the new product development out there seem to be focused on these areas. International flavors is another trend that has been picking up steam in the packaged food industry for the last few years, and was all over the place this year as well.

Kitchens of Africa

Staying on the international flavor theme, Kitchens of Africa is a startup out of North Carolina that is bringing native African flavors to market with an interesting new line of cooking sauces and marinades. Their products stood out as bringing to market some delicious and unique flavors, while riding high on the international flavor trend (which is here to stay).

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Apinya Thai Food Co.

Staying with the international flavor trend, Apinya Thai Food Co. recently rolled out a new product packaging line for their Thai chili sauces that caught our eye. The packaging features an upside-down clear tube container that showcases the vibrant colors of the sauces, while prominently featuring the brand name in Thai letters (rather than English). Its a very compelling package structure and design and obviously capitalizes on the sriracha craze.

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Guiness Chips

A couple of really interesting licensed products caught our eye as well. Some of you may have seen Guiness Chips before… these are potato chips that are infused with the famous Guiness stout flavor, and they are RIDICULOUSLY delicious.

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They launched in Europe a couple of years ago and were first introduced into the US market in January 2015. Very unique product and flavor profile, and a great example of logical licensing in the food business. This is not Jack Daniels lip balm… this is a complementary flavor and a recognizable brand extending into a why-didnt-I-think-of-that product category. As any bartender knows, Beer, chips, pretzels and nuts are the life blood of any bar… why shouldnt they go together? Just surprising that you dont see more beer/chips combinations… yet.

Sriracha Stuff

For years, we were surprised that the original Sriracha brand – Huy Fong Foods – did not extend their brand or sauce into other food categories. To that end, I wrote this article back in 2013 which questioned why there were not more sriracha products on the market. Naturally then, I was absolutely shocked when I stumbled across the booth for POP! Gourmet Foods, a popcorn company, and I saw this on their table:

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As you can see, its a shmorgasboard of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha-branded products, from croutons to ketchup to potato chips!  All are co-branded with the POP! brand. Now, you might be asking yourself, what does a popcorn guy know about ketchup or mayo or hummus??? Probably not that much. But as you can read here, somehow the owner of the POP! brand was able to persuade Huy Fong Foods to grant them a license not just for popcorn, but for a ton of other unrelated food products. While it may be a little late in the Sriracha game, its still amazing that a popcorn company was able to license this super exclusive (and reclusive) brand for all these random products. Hope it works out for them, but really more shocked than anything.