5 Food and Beverage Trends From the NACS Show

Aimee Harvey, Managing Editor, Technomic

1. Tea time

Cold-brew and nitro coffee are all the rage in the dispensed-beverage category, but another contender is gaining momentum: tea. Hot, cold and frozen tea was a clear priority for companies such as Red Diamond, which promoted its Tropical Temptations tea line, made with 100% cane sugar instead of syrup. Flavors include Mango-Infused Green, Toasted Coconut, Blackberry and Sweet Apricot.

2. All-day breakfast

More c-stores are discovering ways to capture customer traffic with all-day breakfast. To help retailers provide variety and gain a competitive edge beyond morning hours, Johnsonville debuted a new line of premium breakfast sandwiches, with flavor-forward options such as its Sausage Breakfast Croissant, Italian Breakfast Panini and Andouille Scramble Wrap.

3. Clean-label desserts

Consumers want to know what’s going into the foods they eat, even when that food is an indulgent treat. Rich’s Foodservice recently acquired Salem, Mass.-based Jacqueline’s Gourmet Cookies, which specializes in clean-label cookies free of GMOs and artificial ingredients, colors and flavors.

4. Better-for-you bird

This year, leading quick-service restaurants pledged to switch to antibiotic-free chicken, while c-store brands such as Sheetz followed suit with plans to use cage-free eggs. Tyson Convenience now has more than 60 antibiotic-free chicken items available. “It’s part of our larger animal well-being platform,” said Kevin Miller, senior marketing manager for Tyson Convenience.

5. Hot and spicy handhelds

The demand for heat and spice had several suppliers getting creative with flavors for snacks. Van’s Kitchen introduced bigger, bolder flavors on the roller grill with new Korean BBQ, Buffalo Chicken and Orange Chicken Crispy Stix, while McCain Foods showcased a slate of new fried snacks, from chicken bites and cheese sticks to poppers and tater tots, featuring heat-tinged flavors of jalapeno, Sriracha, black pepper and Buffalo.