If the turnout at the Fancy Food Show that ended June 30th is any indication, retailers are responding to consumers' desire to eat well - even if it means they're doing more cooking and entertaining at home.
Last year, according to the show organizers, specialty food accounted for 15.9 percent of all retail food sales, up to $48 billion, an 8.4 percent increase in annual sales.
While new product production declined last year, there was a significant increase in products made to satisfy cravings. Chocolate and confectionary products, desserts, ice cream and alcoholic beverage rollouts all grew significantly, show organizers reported.
With 250,000 products representing 81 countries, there was far too much to sample and see in three short days.
The emphasis seemed to be on artisanal products - small batch, hand crafted products running the gamut from pastas, olive oils, cheeses, and dry cured meats to honey, chocolates and confections to dry rubs and spices.
From small domestic producers came products as diverse as O Olive Oils citrus based organic oils - blood orange and Meyer lemon - and Edwards Virginia Hams Surryano dry cured ham, a domestic alternative to Serrano and Prosciutto to award-winning John Kelly Chocolates Truffle Fudge Bites - Dark Chocolate with French Grey Sea Salt, which was a sublime melt in your mouthmix of sweet and salty.
The Italian and Spanish purveyors offered a dizzying selection of cheeses, cured meats. olive oils and vinegars.
Leonardi, noted for its fine Modena Balsamic vinegars since 1871, introduced a novelty sour-sweet condiment Balsamo Oro, unique for its flakes of gold alimentary leaves.