Creative packaged snacks and innovative beverages were among the highlights at the Canadian Health Food Association trade show in Toronto last month.
Hundreds of exhibitors showcased their product lines and Canadian Grocer’s was there, to check out some of the top innovations at the show.
On the snack front, plant-based products were well represented. Seaweed, for example, took assorted forms including sheets (Annie Chun’s, in Sea Salt & Vinegar), crisps (Annie Chun’s, which layer seaweed with brown rice chips), chips (Chomperz, available in Jalapeno) and sheets rolled into cigar-shaped sticks from Sea Stick, sold in Spicy and Shrimp flavours.
Coconut showed up as jerky (Mighty Bee organic, in Spicy BBQ; and Hungry Buddha, in Jalapeno/Lime); chips (Hungry Buddha, with added probiotics) and clusters (Hippie Snacks, featuring sesame and other seeds).
Countering the kale-chip tide was Brad’s Pop’N Hot Broccoli Poppers flavoured with nut-free vegan cheese. Made from cassava flour, Quesava Kitchen’s veggie poppers, sold frozen, are available baked (for quick re-heating at home) or as bake-at-home dough.
Popcorn got a makeover courtesy of Halfpops. Far crunchier than traditional popcorn, and not at all fluffy, the half-popped kernels are also tiny and fit into a smaller bag that’s easier to merchandise on shelves. Rice cakes got a rethink courtesy of Element, whose round, thin cakes sported sweet toppings like yogurt-based Strawberry ’N Cream.
Among meat snacks was Chef’s Cut slow-smoked sirloin jerky (Chipotle Black Pepper) and the brand’s newest product, ground, seasoned beef and pork extruded and shaped into a bar.
SeaDNA debuted jerky — made from high-protein, low-fat seal meat sustainably sourced from the waters surrounding the Magdalen Islands and Newfoundland’s coast — available in Teriyaki and Chipotle Maple Pepper.
Energy and protein bars were also on display. Welo showed probiotic Matcha Almond bars and a Kids Probiotic Bar in Peanut Butter Chocolate, while Trek offered baked, cake-textured bars in Cocoa Oat.
Touting crickets as a highly sustainable source of protein, two manufacturers showed energy bars incorporating Ontario-farmed insects in powdered form. Primarily made from dates, Näak bars come in varieties such as Choco Orange and derive all their protein from crickets. Crickstart’s bars are gluten- and dairy-free and are available in Chili Chocolate and Cinnamon Cardamom.
Energy bars’ high-protein, bite-sized offshoots were in evidence, too. Larabar displayed its coconut-dusted bites, and startup Bite Me! Foods unveiled its energy balls fashioned from dates, oats, hemp hearts and flax and chia seeds. Thrive Tribe showed non-GMO, grain- and dairy-free bites.
Among thirst quenchers were several bone broth varities. A bottled, ready-to-drink product from Broya featured chicken bone broth flavoured with turmeric, ginger, ginseng and cardamom, and a beef version flavoured with coriander, cinnamon, turmeric and cardamom. Organika Bone Broth Protein Powder (in Original and Ginger) can be mixed with water as a drink or used in soups, sauces and stews.
Prized for its refreshing and hydrating qualities, watermelon juice anchored a number of beverages including cold-pressed WTR MLN WTR. Blue Monkey offered it in three iterations: 100% pure juice; sparkling; and Coco Watermelo mixed with sparkling coconut water. Jax Coco is relaunching two sparkling coconut waters, Ginger/Lemon and Raspberry, in Canada.
Welo is introducing Apple Cider Vinegar Drink in varieties such as Cold-Pressed Lemon Cayenne. Honeywater, in Lemon and Mint, is sweetened with Canadian honey. Tran Quini derives its natural-relaxant qualities from an herbal blend.