Winter Fancy Food Show

Winter Fancy Food Show Observations

Once again the Winter Fancy Food Show did not disappoint those seeking exciting new products, flavors, and product concepts.

To give you a flavor of the show’s highlights, I have bundled my thoughts into 6 categories: 1) Products with whole grains or healthy ingredients, 2) Healthy products for kids, 3) Hummus in great variety, 4) Products made with or to be consumed with wine, 5) Gluten-free products and 6) A sampling of unusual items.

Whole Grains/Healthy Ingredients

I was looking for new products featuring healthy whole grains and ingredients and saw many such items. TruRoots and Urbane Grain showed easy-to-use, quick-cooking product concepts featuring quinoa and other wholesome ingredients such as lentils and mung beans. Linwoods, an Irish brand, introduced a line of “Super Foods,” mixes of ingredients like ground flaxseeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, goji berries and other healthful ingredients. These can be mixed with oatmeal, salads, cereal or granola to add a dollop of extra nutrition. Laxmi’s Delight’s Flaxseed Spreads are another creative option for eating more healthy grains. San Gennaro Foods showed a line of frozen breakfast items – oatmeal, polenta, and grits. Fall River Wild Rice showed a brand-new snack product, Wild Rice Bites, which is being marketed for both children and adults.

Healthy Products for Children

The greater industry focus on healthier products for children meant I found many examples of these. Sensible foods crunch dried snacks The Happy Baby Food company offered a number of healthy frozen meals, baby “finger foods,” yogurt snacks, baby food, and puree items. There was a line of Healthy Helpings “fun kid’s food” at the Perfect Bite Company booth which turned out to be a BJ’s Wholesale Club private label item. The Sensible Foods company offered a line of crunch-dried snacks with a variety of dried fruits and nuts. What I really liked about this booth was their video, which showed kids at a preschool just going to town eating their product. Very convincing! A little less convincing was the PequeOliva line of olive oil specially formulated for kids. I just can’t envision a need for such a product.

Hummus Bonanza!

Summer fresh Meal to hummus is a hot category right now (35% increase in US consumption over the past 21 months as reported by Fox News in April 2010), and I saw many innovative new versions at the show. Tryst Gourmet offered edamame, yellow lentil, and Tuscan white bean varieties under the Eat Well Enjoy Life label, while Fountain of Health offered hummus cocktail products, each topped with olive oil. Summer Fresh had a nice twist with their offerings of “Snack’n Go” products as well as “Meal to Go!” with three different varieties of hummus combined with flatbreads and other healthy salad ingredients.

Wine-Related Products

At last summer’s Fancy Food Show, I reported on an ice cream made with wine. It seems that products either made Chocolate for wine with wine or developed to complement wine are all the rage right now. I saw at least five such products: Cookies & Corks by CookieZen, sweet and savory cookies to pair with wine; Wine Snaps, shortbread biscuits made with wine and black pepper; California Wine Wafers, a product originally from the Czech Republic; Wine Nuts, nuts flavored with chardonnay and merlot; and even Brix Chocolate for Wine, chocolates designed to complement wine.

Gluten-Free… Everywhere

I was looking for gluten-free products and I found them…everywhere. At this point, I think many companies simply assume that they should have a gluten-free version of their regular product, if at all feasible. I saw so many gluten-free products that I stopped keeping track of it. This trend is here to stay, at least for now.

Odd & Unusual

Plush Puffs Gourmet marshmallows under the odd and unusual category, I spotted these products. Plush Puffs Gourmet “artisan” Marshmallows buck every trend out there (at least the health-oriented ones) and it’s hard to imagine that we really need a gourmet marshmallow… There is nothing new about functional chocolate, but I love the attitude of the CocoXan functional chocolates with benefits (from Xan Confections). How can one ignore products like Coco PMS (“Un-Bitch Yourself” is actual copy from their marketing materials) or Coco Preggers (“Happy Mommy – Happy Baby”)? Along the same lines, TeaMotion offers teas for emotional well-being. Retro branded products were predicted to be a trend this year, so the Bosco Milk Chocolate Bar is launching at an opportune time. There are a number of noodles out on the market that are made with unusual ingredients, for example, GreeNoodle (made with Moroheiya, a super-healthy vegetable also known as mallow leaf), and Noodles (made from yam flour). Finally, a product that takes the prize for the strangest juxtaposition of flavor and concept – Skillet Bacon Jam. Enough said!

Winter Fancy Food Show
Winter Fancy Food Show

What were the big take-aways from the Winter Fancy Food Show?

1) Many innovative products offered more convenient ways for people to consume whole grains and healthy ingredients. Surprisingly, the key recommendations in the new USDA Dietary Guidelines do not specifically recommend eating more whole grains, just fewer refined-grain foods. Nonetheless, I expect there will be many more products to come in this category.

2) Since hummus is such a hot category right now, more companies are trying to figure out how to leverage this growth. I wonder, what will be the next innovative product that offers a convenient, healthy alternative for time-starved consumers?

3) Enough wine products! While these products are very creative, I personally would rather enjoy my wine in the traditional way – maybe some cheese and crackers, but skip the sweets!

If you would like more information about any of these products or have questions about the show as it relates to your business, please contact Nancy Peterson at inf@foodbiz.ca.

Check out our Winter Fancy Food Show Photo Gallery for more photos of the show.