Monday, Jun. 09, 2008

The 54th Annual Fancy Food Show

Hawking edible oddities like eucalyptus chutney, wasabi rhizomes and blueberry acai gummy pandas, some 2,400 exhibitors gathered at the 54th annual Fancy Food show in New York City in June. Their aim: to sell experimental flavors to the nation's specialty food stores, grocery chains, high-end supermarkets and, eventually, to you. Americans spend nearly $50 billion a year on specialty foods, a market that's grown more than 20% since 2005, boosted by our growing appetite for fancy energy snacks, infused bottled waters and all things organic. Food purveyors have taken notice — specialty products make up just 12% of all retail food sales, but their high prices yield big profits — and 3,500 new specialty food products launched in 2007 alone. To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, TIME scoured 345,000 sq. ft. of the food show's exhibition space and found the 12 most notable gustatory innovations.