Assorted Organic Craft Sodas

Food trends to watch from the National Restaurant Association show

By Rieva Lesonsky

The National Restaurant Association (the “other” NRA) show is always a good place to spot food and beverage trends. Here are some that Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) called out:

NRN called guava a “breakout flavor this year” and noted the various products (sorbet, syrup, punch and empanadas) all made with the tropical fruit.

We first noted tea was hot years ago, but the fervor has not died down. NRN says there was a “wide range of tea varieties” at the show, many with exotic ingredients (rose, green dates and orange flower water) and many made from matcha, a ground powder of green tea. Some companies introduced sparkling iced tea, which the magazine says is “possibly a new category in the carbonated soft drink world.”

NRN reports there are a number of foods featuring foods infused with unusual flavors, such as blueberry wine, banana bread beer and absinthe-flavored salami.

Apparently big beer companies masquerading as craft breweries have given Coke and Pepsi some ideas, since both introduced craft sodas. Their products join craft sodas from more entrepreneurial companies. Ginger beer continues to be popular.

Many companies touted what their food and beverages don’t have. NRN spotted lots of labels boasting about being gluten-, hormone- or high fructose corn syrup- free, as well as nitrite-free cold cuts.

Other trends of note included noodles of all varieties, “clean” meat and the possibility that Indian food will go mainstream.