In the fall, the New York-based Specialty Food Association (SFA) Trendspotter Panel released its 2023 predictions for specialty food trends. Out of the nine top trends, several applied to the dips and spreads category.


"Brands will focus on helping consumers go simple in their preparation and cooking routines and assure would-be cooks that taking shortcuts is nothing to be ashamed of," said Melanie Bartelme of Mintel.

Retail delis can play up the convenience of dips and spreads by marketing them as ready-to-eat snacks and placing pita chips, tortilla chips, pretzels or crackers near the refrigerated grab-and-go cases where the packaged dips are located.

Environmentally conscious products

"With growing unrest over climate issues and their impact on the future food supply, products that feature some aspect of sustainable ingredients, upcycled ingredients, or environment-friendly packaging, are leading the way," said Jonathan Deutsch of Drexel University.

Consumers are looking for "a heightened emphasis on packaging design to communicate sustainability, introduce creative ways to consume and decant well-established consumer products, and telegraph aspirational consumer values and price point," said Stan Sagner of We Work for Food, LLC.

For retailers, making a switch to more sustainable packaging for private label dips and spreads could be a draw for consumers if the store placed a sign in the deli section with information on the new containers and their environmental benefits.

Deli managers could also ensure that employees working behind the case are educated on the new packaging and able to answer any questions that consumers have about what sets it apart. 

Balance between health and indulgence

"Better-for-you snacks like dehydrated vegetables or mushroom chips continue to dominate," said Lindsay Leopold, food stylist.

With many brands now supplying healthier dip and spread products, retail delis are in a great position to market healthy, delicious snacking for both kids and adults.

Chips and crackers made with multi-grains or dehydrated vegetables could be placed near the dips and spreads to highlight healthier snack pairings.

The deli could also cross-merchandise with the produce department to advertise fresh-cut vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, celery and cucumbers as nutritional dipping alternatives and a way to get kids to eat more vegetables.

International cuisines

"Shared through the memory, influence and multi-generational heritage of immigrants, this wave of texture and flavor offers complex, nuanced blends of herbs, spice, specialty chiles, fruit, rich nuts and seeds and punches of umami," said Victoria Ho of SherpaCPG.

"From main dishes to condiments, in 2023 we will see a lot more international flavors," said Osei Blackett of Picky Eaters Restaurant, Ariapita and Chef Picky Events + Catering.

Salsa products create a perfect opportunity for retail delis to market international flavors from a variety of countries.

Hummus is another product that can be displayed with other Mediterranean foods like boxes of falafel mix, pita breads and olives.

Variety in spicy flavors

"What began in the hot sauce category is exploding into honey, spreads, confections, beverages and snacks, snagging new markets like younger consumers, especially, and inspiring specialty food companies to introduce heat and spice into existing product lines," said Mikel Cirkus of Firmenich.

"Brands are testing new flavors and combinations, increasingly in the form of flakes or 'blends' and not just sauces, which brings a new application into the mix to be able to use a little or a lot," said V. Sheree Williams of The Global Food & Drink Initiative, Cuisine Noir.

If a retailer carries a variety of refrigerated salsa products, deli managers could take the extra step to add brightly colored signs underneath each product with a short description of the unique spices and heat levels.

This might catch a consumer’s eye as they are passing by the section and even encourage consumers to pick a few different salsas to compare at home. A deli could also place a sign suggesting consumers use the different dips and spreads to create a tasting flight as an alternative to a charcuterie board when entertaining guests.

Natural Sweeteners

Used across categories ranging from sparkling tonics to pasta sauce, to artisanal chocolate to classic bakery treats, natural sweeteners give brands a platform for differentiation as well as the appeal of a clean label," Ho said.

Delis can emphasize the natural ingredients in their dessert hummus products and also tie them in to the better-for-you snack displays.