The advent and popularity of stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, combined with the new access and reach of the internet, has made new distribution opportunities that have transformed the consumer food business. Not only has it driven a new wave of unique, upstart and independent food brands, but it's also opened an epic era of creativity and ideas in food products that bring new and exciting trends to the market. The internet has also expanded the access to food media, trends, items and ideas. Offline trends are moving to consumer eaters faster than ever. It's one of the most exciting and innovative times in the food business.
One of the hot new trends buzzing is seed oil, which is oil pressed from various seeds. In the past, this was predominantly grapes, but new companies like Stoger, of Austria, have taken seed oils to new levels with use of pumpkin, cherry and other new and unexpected seeds with flavors that are developing cult-like following. The company's pumpkin seed oil has won multiple honors and nods in the market, but its cherry, tomato and other variations are a close second. These oils are being used far beyond traditional usage also -- topping desserts, salads and putting fresh flavors into meals and dishes.
Salt infusions are also everywhere at the moment. Think traditional garlic salt, only instead of garlic its just about every possible ingredient you can imagine. S.a.l.t Sisters has an chardonnay oak smoked blend, for example, that is out of this world. You'll find all kinds of other variations in the market -- lime, rosemary, mushroom. The flavor builds on salt's taste, with subtle hints of whatever item has been infused into the mix. Most are not quite as poignant as garlic's presence in garlic salt, yet add a tasteful twist to meals and dishes.
Cold brewed coffee is rising in popularity as well. It's not 'iced' coffee, but where coffee is made without heat, usually set to steep for twelve hours or longer to pull in the coffee's flavor. It's often served cold but is fine at its traditional room temperature once ready. Many restaurants are making their own. Stumptown's Cold Brew is bottled ready to go and a favorite here. It's carried at stores like Whole Foods and specialty boutiques and restaurants.
While fresh fig is hardly new to the food world, it's having a moment. Only instead of the usual crostini and cheese pairings, its leaping onto sandwiches fresh and sliced thin and being cooked into rich and decadent meals and dishes. Chocolate and fresh fig pairings have been popular for a while and are continuing to see place.