Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2023: Five innovative product spots

Insights Lab spotlights some of the brands and products that really caught the eye at the UK's leading artisanal food and drink event
Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2023
Earlier this week, the Olympia convention centre in London hosted the Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2023, with hundreds of artisan brands from all over the world descending for a two-day showcase of food and drink product innovation.

On day one, the winners of the 2023 Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards were revealed. Among those triumphant was regenerative cheese brand Golden Hooves, which took home the coveted 'New Product of the Year (UK)' award, with single origin chocolate brand Pure Chocolate Jamaica winning best new international product.

Here at the Insights Lab, we're not ones to miss a big food event, with our food insight specialists pitching up to taste (almost all of) what was on offer at this year's fair, coming away with plenty of innovation talking points.

We've painstakingly whittled our spots down to five brands and products for this free insight drop, with Korean street food, slow cooker sauces, and innovatively-flavoured chicken jerky all showcased and discussed.

O'Food, Korea
O'Food's tteokbokki products are designed to be combined and heated in water, sauce and all, with each meal ready to eat within five minutes
What it is: Tteokbokki is one of the most popular street foods in its native Korea, yet the simmered rice cake is yet to really make its mark in the UK. However, we spotted multiple tteokbokki products placed front and centre on the fair floor by Korean brands.

O'Food's recently-launched heat-to-eat tteokbokki stood out from a flavour perspective, with the range comprising five options: Original (with a gochujang sauce); Garlic (with a spicy garlic sauce); Sweet Chilli (with a Korean sweet chilli sauce); BBQ (with a Korean bulgogi sauce); and Rosé (with a Korean spicy carbonara sauce).

Why we're interested: With street food trends continuing to diversify, and Korean food options far beyond kimchi now entering the spotlight; tteokbokki could be one to watch as a convenient, cheap meal concept for retailers and caterers alike, paired with a bold sauce.

Meanwhile, bulgogi marinades are making waves within BBQ, driven by interest (and recent new openings) within Korean BBQ. Then there's the Korean spicy carbonara sauce, which seems ripe for the new generation of third culture innovators taking 'fusion' concepts to new, exciting heights.

Chimac also recommends its Sriracha Caramel be poured over pancakes, or used as a marinade for pork or bacon
What it is: One of three sauces on show from Dublin-based restaurant-meets-D2C brand, Chimac.

Described as "a traditional recipe perfect for Korean fried chicken or any savoury meal"; Chimac's Sriracha Caramel is a beautiful blend of sweet caramel, fresh garlic and hot Thai sriracha. And the sauce won a star at this year's Great Taste Awards.

Developed and launched during lockdown, Chimac's range of sauces also includes KBBQ and a Korean hot sauce.

Why we're interested: While sriracha may be old news in terms of trends, the decadent combo of caramel with the Thai sauce staple delivers artisan hot honey vibes (with a twist) - an eye-catching restaurant-to-retail option with appropriately trendy branding.
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Arrogant Chicken takes inspiration from Ukraine, where air-dried craft chicken snacks are said to be traditionally served with the likes of beer and wine
What it is: Not many chicken jerky brands on the market, are there? That being the question we posed to the founder of Arrogant Chicken when we found his stand on the upper levels of the fair.

His answer? They're the only one.

The superbly-named, fabulously-branded jerky company offers 'craft chicken jerky' with no artificial flavourings, no added sugars and no preservatives, with each pack boasting 23g of protein and just 0.45g of saturated fat.

Why we're interested? The globally-inspired flavours clinched it. We're talking Indian Tamil Nadu; Traditional Ukrainian (namely dill, garlic and fragrant black pepper); Caribbean Jerk; English Sunday Roast; and Spicy Korean BBQ (seeing the trend yet?).

Interestingly, the founder told us that he's recently been inundated with orders from gym-goers across the country for his protein-heavy, low-fat jerky.

Ghanaian Chilli-Led Range
Schoolyard Chillies, Scotland
Schoolyard Chillies' Apple Jelly, Raspberry Jam, and Chocolate Chilli Pretzels were all awarded Gold at the Farm Shop & Deli Product Awards 2023
What it is: Founded in 2017, Schoolyard Chillies is a Scottish social enterprise that produces an innovative range of sauces, chocolates, jams and condiments powered by Ghanaian chillies.

Its mission is the educational wellbeing of Ghanaian children. The brand partners with small, independent farmers in Eastern Ghana to provide a guaranteed route to market for their sun-dried cayenne peppers, so long as no children are removed from school to work on the farms.

The range is extensive, with a raspberry jam, apple jelly, sweet chilli sauce with lemongrass, chocolate chilli pretzels, and a bake-at-home chilli chocolate brownie mix among the products featuring the ethically-sourced Ghanaian chillies.

Why we're interested: Hot and spicy chilli-driven food was, arguably, the standout product 'trend' of this year's Speciality & Fine Food Fair.

Examples were everywhere. But it was the variety of options and the mission behind Schoolyard Chillies that made them stand out. And, you know what: their options really weren't spicy just for the sake of it. There was real flavour here, not just heat.
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Slow Cooker Sauces
Hawkshead Relish, UK
All were created "with simplicity in mind", designed for either using in a slow cooker or as a one-pot meal
What it is: Based in the Lake District, Hawkshead Relish is an award-winning artisan food producer, with the brand launching this range of Slow Cooker Sauces at the fair.

The four-strong line-up includes the summer-style Lemon & Garlic and Bloody Mary (the latter made with tomatoes, celery, vodka and a variety of herbs and spices); as well as Sticky Chilli and Honey Mustard.

Why we're interested: Slow cookers and air fryers are all the rage as cash-strapped consumers look to save money on their energy bills, with The Grocer proclaiming "a clear sales opportunity for sauces suitable for slow cookers" in its 2023 cooking sauces category report.
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