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Fresh Summit’s junk food vibe

mushroom chips
These dried mushroom snacks from Shrooms Snacks were addictive, and one of many mushroom options featured at Fresh Summit.

ORLANDO, FL—If you spent as much time as I did canvassing the floor at Fresh Summit last week, you might have noticed some themes.

Greg Johnson, director of media development for Blue Book Services, and I discussed the big trends we saw, and the leading ones I noticed were all focused on flavor, and oddly enough, chips.

I’m talking chips, as in potato chips.

We’ve seen produce packaged and marketed similarly to junk food snacks in the past, but I’m talking about the actual products themselves being heavily influenced by the flavor and appeal of crunchy, fried indulgence.

Greg talked with one potato company, Fresh Solutions Network LLC, that drew from the potato chip aisle for new microwaveable potato flavors, and I saw not one, not two, but three different mushroom “chips” and several versions of mushroom jerky that packed a serious umami flavor punch.

I liked the shiitake mushroom chips at Guan’s Mushroom Co., Commerce, CA, so much that I flagged down more than one retailer to have them try a sample.

Adjacent products have been encroaching on produce for years now, and it was never more apparent than seeing things like avocado oil, protein bars with no fruit or vegetable tie-in, and premium drinks heavy on trendy ingredients like Chia seeds and dairy alternatives.


Crafty cocktails

It also was hard to ignore the creativity marketers used to draw crowds to their booths. It’s not enough to roll up a bar at Happy Hour anymore, it seems. There were custom crafted drinks like the beers brewed specifically for promotions – Naturipe Farms offered a blackberry version and California Giant went with strawberries.

Wholesum Harvest went a step further with Bloody Mary mix created from “ugly” vegetables.

Speaking of blood, one Australian citrus firm, Melbourne-based Pinnacle Fresh, promoted its blood orange brand, Dracula Blood, with Dracula Blood Orange margaritas.

(If I missed any, please point me to the company and booth number so I can put them on my “must visit” list for Fresh Summit 2019.)


Beets and replacements

If vegetable noodles were the darling of Fresh Summit 2017, I’d say the “vegetable substitution” trend took it a step further in 2018.

I saw even more “noodle” options, including a colorful medley pack with beets, sweet potatoes and zucchini. Speaking of beets: move over jicama tortillas, I saw beet tortillas, beet salsa, beet flour and beet drinks on display.

Jicama continues to gain ground, too, and even had a chip of its own.

Stay tuned for more trends from Fresh Summit 2018.

Pamela Riemenschneider is Retail Editor for Blue Book Services. You can reach her at