Top 5 Design Trends at the 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show

The Fancy Food Show is always a treat—literally! If you’ve never been, it’s a 3-day-long snackfest that is the biggest gourmet food event in the country. It’s always interesting to see what’s new and what’s hot. A lot of sources talk about the food trends at each show, but what about the design trends?


Design trends are good to be aware of because you need to know what other brands are doing in order to make your brand stand out from the competition. Trends across successful product categories also indicate what is favorable to an audience. Sometimes following design trends can work for you, positioning a product as the latest hot item in a category, and sometimes they can work against you, making your product blend in with all the others. Under no circumstance would you ever want to copy what another brand is doing—that’s not what we’re talking about here.

You can leverage certain themes in design trends in a unique way to work for your brand. It’s important to have an understanding of the audience and to make sure the trend works for your product and brand. Then use the trend in a style that makes it your own, not doing something just because it’s the latest fad.

Recent studies have spotlighted the focus on Millennials as the biggest gourmet food consumer group. This should come as no surprise since we’ve been hearing about the importance of Millennials as a consumer group for the past several years. Many of the trends I noticed at the show were in a style heavily targets Millennials—clean, hipster, minimalist.

Millennials are the biggest general gourmet food consumer audience now and it’s certainly smart to appeal to this generation group. Just make sure you’re not alienating your other audiences if applicable and that you’re not doing anything that will go out of style quickly (unless you’re willing and prepared for that). Also Millennials span a large age group and many on the upper end of the range are settling down and having families now, so it’s important to note the changing needs of Millennials as they age.

Here’s what I noticed as the top 5 design trends at the 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show:

1. Refined: Super clean, upscale, minimalist, polished, serious look. Modern fonts, lots of whitespace. Some felt almost fashionable—if food had a runway show, these products would be strutting down the catwalk.

2. Artisan: Really embracing the handcrafted, small-batch essence. Traditional yet fresh. A touch of nostalgia. Retro-cool.

3. Metallic accents: Metallic foil stamp used sparingly. On foil pouches, designs that reveal the metallic surface in parts for a little bling.

4. Hipster: Young, urban, sometimes a nerdy cool vibe (if the package were a person it would be wearing big glasses with a thick black frame). Think trendy Brooklyn design.

5. Typography-based: Type, type and more type! The letters take the focus here. Words stacked in a block, big letters, bold, in-your-face.

Hi, I’m Jenn David Connolly, creative strategist and founder of Jenn David Design. For over 20 years I’ve partnered with specialty food brands to create powerful, distinct, strategic design that commands attention and gets results.

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