The NACUFS 2022 National Conference was held in Spokane, where attendees convened around wooded pathways and rushing rivers around the city’s convention center.
During the event, education sessions examined supply chain, contract management pros and cons, culinary trends, marketing and more. Keynote speaker Michael Ruhlman (cookbook author) spoke about the enduring importance of food. College chefs competed in this year’s culinary challenge. But here, we are taking you directly to the show floor and focusing on food trends you may have missed.
Outer Aisle served garlicky, craveable snacks without the carbs, using cauliflower instead. The flavor is so big, carbs are the last thing on your mind.
Land O’ Lakes created this super-luxurious cacio e pepe, an underrated pasta dish that really makes black pepper pop and then immediately get smothered in buttery, creamy goodness.
Veggies with a chance of meatballs
This meatless meatball from Dr. Praeger’s contains more than seven different veggies.
Tyson offered both plant-based and chicken-based nugs at their booth, confirming the idea that there’s room for both versions, and when your concept is dip-focused, the lines get blurred even more.
Texas by way of the Carolinas
Fun fact: Did you know Texas Pete is from North Carolina? The cult favorite played into the hot ‘n spicy trend with scorching samples.
Surprisingly refreshing Texas lemonade has a kicky splash of hot sauce stirred in.
Sushi is getting in on the plant-based movement, with this simulated spicy salmon roll from Wild Blue.
Wild Blue also offers poke bowls, a trend that might be leveling off a bit, but still afloat.
Trendy teas, please
Tea trends are decidedly floral, including rose, butterfly pea flower and jasmine.
Butterfly pea flower gives iced tea a cool purple hue. We’ve seen this ingredient in fancy cocktails for a while, but it’s about time to bring the purple rain to daily use.
Finally boba is becoming more mainstream! Boba, a chewable tea you must experience to fully grasp, comes in many flavors, like taro, mango, matcha, brown sugar…you name it.
Research is showing that peanut-free may not be the best way for college and K-12 campuses to protect those with allergies. These fun single-serve snack ideas are from the National Peanut Board.
Parfaits and other high-protein portable snacks are going strong for busy campus environments. This one is from Pacific Northwest Canned Pears.
Parfaits in big volume
General Mills debuted these new bags for making healthy parfaits in record time.
Leaning hard into the southern comfort trend, General Mills shared fluffy biscuit sammies.
Mighty, meaty mushrooms
While many plant-based ideas were at play on the show floor, the Mushroom Council held its own, demonstrating the meaty properties of mushrooms in creations like all-shroom sausage, made fresh at the booth.
Boneless bone broth
Mimicking bone broth made with animal bones, this mushroom “bone” broth has so much umami it’s crazy.
Banza has been doing crisp, chewy cauliflower crusts for a while now and has got it down to a science.
Cheers to charcuterie
Smithfield was serving up lots of cool spins on charcuterie boards, centering around some spicy pepperoni.
This is a grab-and-go-mingle solution to charcuterie boards at events.
Here’s a sweet trend we’d like to see take off—the pride of any Little Italy bakery…the cannoli! East Coast-based Golden Cannoli Shells Co. is giving cannolis the luxury treatment.
And for less-fussy cannoli flavor, these chips are made for dipping.
Cannoli chips and dip
Here’s how it looks individual-serving style.
Could the next big spice be ras al hanout? The name translates in Arabic to “head of the shop” (the best spices a seller has) and is a heady mix of spices and complex flavors built from centuries of culture.
Chickpeas were well represented, with US Foods going bold with spicy snack bowls, perfect for a mid-afternoon energy boost or a powered-up side dish for dinner.
Can we live here?
Waffle Cabin’s enticing aroma permeated the show floor with a beckoning syrupy scent.
Simplot created a fiesta vibe with college-friendly snacks “majoring in fiesta.”
Simplot’s smoothies were the perfect foil to all the spicy food on the show floor. Oh wait, these were spicy mango smoothies!
Beep boop…more pepperoni…boop
This pizza making robot drew a big crowd to see how it could measure up to human pizza makers. Seeing the pepperonis lined up was mesmerizing.
Ready for the oven, this is how precise the robot can get with toppings.
Boar’s head used tostadas to turn turkey sandwiches into something much more trendy and fun.