TGR’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wolfe attended Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore last week. Here’s a round-up of few products that caught her eye.
Very rarely is everyone at a tradeshow in a agreement about anything. The economy, the trends, the food, you name it. During my 12+ years as a journalist covering the specialty food and gourmet kitchenware industries, I’ve been to a lot of tradeshows, and I can honestly say this was a rare occasion where all the exhibitors I spoke with were happy: with the show moving back to Baltimore, and with the show overall.
Expo East was much larger than last year’s show in Boston, and traffic was solid. I spent two full days scouring the show, and here are a few trends and products worth mentioning.
The convergence of the gourmet and natural foods is not a new occurance, but it bears repeating. The food aisles of Expo East were full of specialty foods that could be marketed as gourmet, natural (and in many cases certified organic) and gluten free. Gluten free is more than a trend, it’s a medically necessary lifestyle for millions of Americans who have been diagnosed Celiac or gluten intolerant. Gluten free has become a starting place for product development and specialty food marketing. Good news is that the taste of these foods has improved greatly, as indicated by the abundance of delicious gluten-free products on the show floor.
Frozen foods have always been a staple at Natural Products Expo, but it seems there were more convenient and healthy all-natural and gluten-free items that would be equally at home in a mainstream supermarket or a specialty food store.
Notable new frozen products
Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Golden Platter Foods launched its line of frozen, fully cooked Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets, Tenders and Patties at the Natural Products Expo East. The products are allergen free and made without the use of additives, hormones and preservatives. The product line is just entering distribution. Each 24-ounce package has a suggested retail price of $6.99. For more information call 973-344-8770 or email email@example.com.
Good Foods Made Simple
Good Foods Made Simple, Wellesley, Mass., is looking to bring more affordable, convenient healthy breakfast options to the market with its new frozen food line. Three varieties of steel-cut oatmeal and egg patties are available. Each box of oatmeal contains two pre-portioned servings while the egg patties contain six per box. The breakfast line ranges from $2.69 to $3.99. For more information, call 800-535-3447 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vegan Quinoa Burger
Good news for buyers looking for alternatives to soy-based veggie burgers. Qrunch Foods unveiled its vegan quinoa burger. Made in a gluten-free facility, the Qrunch burger is free from gluten, dairy, soy, corn, egg, wheat and nut. The Qrunch burger does not contain any artificial flavorings, colors or GMOs. Each 2-pack has a suggested retail price of $3.99.
Italian Thin-Crust Pizza
Dr. Schar USA Inc. is introducing Bonta d’Italia gluten-free, Italian-made pizza to the U.S. market. The cheese and pepperoni thin-crust pizzas are brick-oven baked. Each 9.9-ounce box has a suggested retail price of $6.99. Available in December. For more information, call 201-355-8470 or visit www.schar.com.
Nuts for Coconut
Coconut -- water, flour, sugar, spread – semed to be everywhere at Expo East. Coconut, in all its forms, has been popping up at food shows for a while. It was named one of the top five food trends at the 2010 Winter Fancy Food Show.
Kelapo Coconut Oil Baking Sticks are a one-to-one replacement for butter. Certified organic and Fair Trade certified, this trans fat-free oil is cold pressed and unrefined. It has a two-year shelf life. Each package contains two, 8-ounce sticks and has a suggested retail price of $8.99. For more information, visit www.kelapo.com.
Other new products include: Glory Bee Creamed Coconut, Coconut Oil and Coconut Flour and Let's Do ... Organic Coconut Flour that is distributed by Edwards & Sons Trading Co. Also at Expo East was Earth Balance Coconut Spread, which was introduced earlier this year.
Coconut Sugar is a rapidly growing subset of the coconut category. According to SPINS, coconut sugar has experienced a 250 percent growth (yes, 250 percent) during the last 12 months.
Not to be confused with flavored sugars, coconut sugar is a 100 percent coconut product. It starts as a nectar from the coconut palm tree blossoms, or buds. The nectar is boiled to evaporate the water, and the remaining concentrated nectar is crystallized into sugar. Similar in appearance, taste and consistency to traditional brown sugars, coconut sugar is used as a one-to-one alternative to beet or cane sugar.
Madhava’s Organic Coconut Sugar that is grown and harvested sustainably in Bali made its show debut. It is an unrefined sweetener that is available in two varieties: Coconut Sugar that is most similar in texture and color to traditional brown sugars, and a Blonde Coconut Sugar that can be used to replace granulated white sugar. Both come in 16-ounce bag. Suggested retail price is $4.99. It will be available on Oct. 1 through Tree of Life. For more information, call 303-823-9900.
More Stand-out Products
As in past years, the snack chip category was well represented with chips, popped crisps, popcorn, crackers. Kettle Foods New York Cheddar Potato Chips, crackers from La Panzanella, gluten-free lentil crackers from Mediterranean Baked, and the kid- (and adult-) friendly snacks from Pirate Booty, Flamous Brands' falafel chips, and the new Michael Season’s Popped Black Bean Crisps were a few of the notable standouts.
Hawaiian Sea Salt Tasting Collection
The Spice Lab, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based spice company, has a variety of spice sets that are all attractively packaged in glass test tubes with cork stoppers. The Gourmet Tasting Collection of 11 salts from Hawaii made its Expo East debut. Included in the set are: fine and coarse Hawaiian Pink Passion; fine and coarse Hawaiian Pink Passion Sea Salt; fine and coarse Hawaiian Bamboo Jade Sea Salt (Hanalei Green); fine and coarse Hawaiian White Papohaku Sea Salt; fine and coarse Hawaiian Black Lava (Kilauea) Sea Salt; fine and coarse Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt; and Hawaiian Guava Wood Smoked Sea Salt. Each set has a suggested retail price of $59.95. For more information, call 954-275-4478 or visit www. thespicelab.com.
Gingras Extra Old Apple Cider Vinegar
Gingras, a Rougemont, Quebec-based company, is introducing its Extra Old Apple Cider Vinegar to the U.S. market. Made from GMO-free apples grown in Quebec’s apple-growing region, this artisanal vinegar is aged up to 12 years in French cognac barrels. Two varieties are available, regular and raspberry flavored. Each 500 ml bottle has a suggested retail price of $12.99. For more information, call 514-293-4591 or visit www.cidervinegar.com.
Chicago Importing Co., is expanding its line of Chilean products. At Expo East, the company introduced Golden Spring Chilean Carica. This hand-selected golden papaya is high in Vitamin C and fiber and is a natural source of the papaina enzyme. It’s available in 16-ounce glass jars. Also new are Quelitas, a snack line that’s available in nine varieties. For more information, call 800-828-7983 or visit www.chicagoimporting.com.
Specialty food distributor Avenue Gourmet, Owings Mills, Md., is expanding its line of authentic Latin products. Recent additions include dried sweet potato, sweet potato flour and dried purple corn all from Peru. Also new is a paella kit that includes saffron, rice, the pan for $25.
The distributor also showcased the new Koppers Chocolate line The Box. Shipping Oct. 15, The Box is a 4-ounce square of all-natural treats. In all, 11 varieties are available including chocolates, chocolate covered espresso beans, fruits, nuts and more. Suggested retail price is $5.99.
Other new and notable items available through Avenue Gourmet include Polka Dot Bake Shop’s sweet potato crackers, Heidi Swiss chocolate bar line, David’s Chocolate Frites, all-natural vegetable straws enrobed in Belgian chocolate, and Chocolate Carmel Popcorn.
Avenue Gourmet is constantly finding and distributing new-to-the-market products to its retailer customers, which include supermarkets such as Giant, natural food stores and independent gourmet shops. Patricia Lobel, who co-owns the company with Lee Cohen, says finding those new products and creating a distribution channel for them is the backbone of their business. “Sourcing in the most important thing for us,” Lobel says. “We have to be ahead of the game.” For more information, call 410-902-5701 or visit www.avenuegourmet.com.