Making the rounds at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco last month, Phil Lempert couldn’t help but notice a curious pattern in the myriad chips and protein bars and truffle brie and deli meats on display.
The trade show is a harbinger of bubbling trends, and this winter’s edition brought foods made from pea protein, beets, chickpeas and cashews. Yep, the vegan offerings were ascendant. But they were also vastly different from the strangely pink faux hot dogs and slabs of phony bologna that Lempert, a veteran food industry analyst, had observed for decades.
These foods were creative and snacky, he recalls, and moreover, many weren’t even being billed as vegan. They were “plant-based.”
“The hottest trend was clearly plant-based everything — beverages, cheeses, imitation meats,” Lempert says.