The Specialty Food Association announced its annual sofi™ Award winners last month. A glimpse at the honorees shows how some brand marketers are flaunting their farm heritage. This caught the attention of The Trend Curve team because it connects with a growing consumer interest in living a closer-to-the-land lifestyle—or at least the appearance of it. About ten percent of the Gold, Silver, and New Product sofi™ Award stars bore trademark traits of the Cottagecore craze. This is the “pastoral-life-for-me” trend that swelled dramatically during lockdown.
A few brands carried the essence of this trend into their ingredient selection, production, labeling, packaging and promotion. For example, Honey Shrub Blue Sage, a drink mix from Built by Bees, describes itself as a “concentrated drinking vinegar with a unique combination of honey, apple cyser, organic fruits and organic herbs.” The company goes on to say, “we left out the bad stuff, such as raw sugars, additives, preservatives, fats, sulfites, GMO’s & gluten.” Layer on the choice of harvest-bounty graphics on the label, plus a container shaped like tonic bottles from the early 19th century, and it becomes difficult to ignore the Cottagecore associations. The Gold winner in the Alcoholic Beverage and Cocktail Mix category similarly gets to the root, stems, leaves, and berries of the Cottagecore aesthetic. Raspberry Shrub from Tait Farm Foods is a classic mixer that can be used in everything from raspberry spritzes to champagne cocktails.
The Cottagecore bounty was not all found in the bushes. Check out St. Benoit’s pasture-praising, full-fat yogurt and its clean-ingredient list. Another Gold winner (in the Yogurt & Kefir category), this organic French Vanilla treat is comprised of only organic jersey cow’s milk, organic vanilla sauce and live active cultures.
Similar to the Cottagecore ideal is a Grandmillenial aesthetic. Some describe it as capturing the comfort of grandma’s old-fashioned sensibilities, but with today’s trend-right accents. This trend also had a following within the Specialty Food Association’s sofi™ Award winners. Case in point: this year’s Gold winner in the Functional Beverages category. Stone Hollow Farmstead’s Strawberry Rose Vinegar infuses, “the elegant flavors of sweet strawberries paired with luxurious floral notes of rose” into organic apple cider vinegar. The result is “a modern twist on an old fashioned remedy.”
Also fun from Stone Hollow is its Spice Girls-like lineup of Bloody Mary mixes. Grandpa may have reached for something similar back in the day, but this collection is perfect for the 21st-century brunching-while-hungover crowd. Come meet: Saucy Mary, Quirky Mary, Fancy Mary, Scary Mary, Sweet Mary, Loaded Mary, and Ordinary Mary.
Representing the epitome of the trend (though not an award winner) is Taro Bubble Tea Oatmeal from, Yi She Foods. It begins with gram’s and pop-pop’s sturdy breakfast go-to, but retrofits it with boba tea.
Other trends at SFA included food-as-experience kits, lavender and rose “flavors” and hints of an emerging Japandi influence—but we’ll save those topics for another post.