You may have never thought you needed saffron salt, powdered blue cheese, or hemp rice cakes in your kitchen, but if tastemakers at the Winter Fancy Food Show are right, you’ll soon wonder how you lived without them.

The show, which caters to the professional movers and shakers in the specialty food business, offered up 80,000 products during its three-day run in San Francisco. That’s a lot to sort through but trendspotters (including an official trendspotting panel made up of top cookbook authors, food writers and broadcasters) walked the aisles looking for interesting products. Here are some of the flavors and ingredients that will be making news this year.

1) Alternative Oils 2.0

Chile infused oil

You may already have tried avocado or grapeseed oils for splashing on vegetables or using in stir fry but there's a new generation of fruit and vegetable seed oils as well as other oil varieties that are hitting store shelves. One company, Culinary Imports, showed off its line of tomato seed, chili seed and cherry seed oils, and offered recipe ideas for those of us who aren’t sure the best way to use. While all of their oils work for finishing salad or pasta, the cherry seed oil can be dribbled over cheeses and the chili seed variety is delicious over chocolate ice cream—really. Other oils seen at the show include organic coconut oil (excellent for baking) and tea seed oil, which works for stir frying because of its high smoke point.

2) New Uses for Blue

Blue cheese is showing up as a surprising ingredient in unusual forms. For example, you don’t think of powdered cheese as being a foodie-friendly product –it sounds as gourmet as cheese in a can. But the experts at Rogue Creamery are taking their award-winning blues to new places. Powdered blue cheese, called Blue Heaven Blue, due

Blue cheese

in stores this spring, can be used in recipes or even as a topper on popcorn. Chocolate makers are also taking advantage of this pungent and flavorful cheese. Bissingers Chocolates has created a new treat, Point Reyes Blue Cheese Wine Grapes, which is a wine grape coated with blue cheese and enrobed in chocolate, expected to hit stores soon.

One extra note about powdered food: get ready for more. Peanut butter powder and coconut milk powder were also on display. In some cases, especially peanut butter, the draw is lower calories and less fat when the powder is mixed with milk or water.


3) Seeds, Seeds and More Seeds

Ancient seeds such as chia and hemp are back in a big way thanks to their healthful properties, which include high fiber and Omega fatty acid content and cholesterol-reducing properties. New products spotted at the show included Enjoy Life Natural Brands Crunchy Flax Chia Cereal, while Lundberg Family Farms offered Hemp-a-Licious Organic Rice Cakes. Dukkah, an Egyptian side dish of nuts, herbs and spices mixed with caraway, sesame and cumin seeds, was also on display from importer K.L. Keller.


4) Bananas Finally Make it to the Top

In the past few years, citrus fruits have been the hot ingredients in desserts and confections but now the humble banana is the item of choice. The flavor was especially popular with chocolate (Vosges Haut-ChocolatWild Ophelia Peanut Butter & Banana Milk Chocolate Bar) but frozen dessert makers are embracing banana too (GoodPop Frozen Banana Cinnamon Pops). Lastly, the retro pairing of peanut butter and banana is relived with products like PB Crave CoCo Bananas Peanut Butter.

5) Inventive Salts

Sea salts

Sure, specialty salts can be popular for years but flavored sea salts like blueberry, saffron or tuna roe are getting attention as a way of adding a pop of flavor to recipes. Products made with salt itself were also a hit. Spice Lab introduced a gift set of four shot glasses made of Himalayan pink salt.

Chili pepper and chocolate

6) Spiced Up Treats

Spicy chocolate bars have been around for a while but now the trend can be found in other treats. Peppery flavors like chili and jalapeno showed up in Brownie Crunches from Seth Greenberg and cayenne mixed with bourbon and pecans in Lake Champlain Chocolate's Boom! Bam! bar. Even Jelly Belly, the gourmet jelly bean maker, got in on the act with its latest, Tabasco jelly beans.

7) Vegetables in Unexpected Places

Spinach cookies

If spinach shortbread or broccoli tea appeals to you, you're going to love this savory trend. Food makers are adding veggies in some unlikely products with delicious results. Expect to see carrot chocolate bars, spinach nutmeg cookies and teas boasting beet, cabbage and broccoli flavors and more at stores soon.

If all this isn't enough, here are a few more things to keep an eye out for in stores, according to the Fancy Food Show: balsamic vinegars with fruit, beer-infused mustards, crackers and candies, pomegranate and Moroccan flavors.

Tell us, would you try any of these new trends?