Hyping up health without losing flavour at CHFA

Natural health and organics industry buzzing at Toronto-based tradeshow

The Canadian Health Food Association's tradeshow this past weekend featured an array of businesses focused on the natural health and organics industry.

With over 800 exhibitors across 95,000 square feet, it's easy to become overwhelmed. We at Canadian Grocer took the opportunity to highlight some of the top trends innovations at the show. From sugar-free to savoury, exhibitors weren't short on new and exciting flavours to impress attendees.


The Non-GMO Project Verified seal was spotted on various products at this year’s show.

Mamma Chia’s beverages and vitality snacks have the Non-GMO Project Verified seal, as do Glee Gum products. Glee Gum is an all-natural gum that uses chicle—a sap that comes from sapodilla trees in Central American rainforests—in its gum base.

READ: Sugar-free and savoury foods of CHFA

Packing a flavourful punch

Whether adding new flavours to an existing line or coming out with an entirely new product, several exhibitors at the show were out to prove they won’t sacrifice flavour just because their product is healthy.

Yes beverages, for example, come in four flavours: raspberry red velet + chia, Belgian cocoa hazelnut “milk,” vanilla charge hemp “milk” and gold chia and turmeric cashew “milk.” Kam Chuhan, founder and CEO of Mississauga, Ont.-based Yes, compared the Belgian cocoa hazelnut “milk” to “healthy chocolate milk” given it only has one gram of sugar. She also compared the taste of the gold chia turmeric cashew “milk” to a salted caramel macaroon.

Over at the Solo GI booth, CEO Saul Katz spoke of the importance his company puts on the taste quality of its energy bars. He added that took nearly a year to develop the three newly launched flavours, which are dark chocolate almond, mocha fudge and apple cinnamon with quinoa.

Sugar-free is still sweet

It’s the health trend that keeps ticking: sugar-free products are here to stay. Birdie and Bill’s craft soda pop line, for example, is sweetened with its own proprietary blend of natural sweeteners. It uses Stevia and Erythritol, a zero-calorie, naturally derived sugar alcohol, to sweeten its soda.

Honeybush Health was promoting its herbal tea line. The four premium iced teas contain Honeybush, a flowering shrub that grows wild in the mountains and valleys of South Africa. Honeybush Health business development manager Dory Montague explained the teas get their sweet taste from the herb, which has a milder, sweeter taste than rooibos. The beverages are a good choice for those with diabetes and pregnant women, said Montague, since they are naturally sugar-free and caffeine-free.

Don’t skip dessert

Treats with a healthy twist were also on display. Chief among them was Koochikoo, a no-sugar cookie sweetened with a mixture of stevia extract and organic agave inulin. The latter also adds probiotic fibre, noted Sally Cox, founder of Seattle-based Koochikoo.

“People keep asking why there is so much sugar in products,” said Cox. Her cookies, which took a year to develop, are billed as the “world’s first all-natural sugar-free cookies” and contain 20% fewer calories than cookies made with sugar.

Cox said she was just launching Koochikoo in Canada now but that her product was already in Kroger stores in the U.S.

Another product for those with a sweet tooth was Manuka Honey Chocolate Truffle Bars from Zibadel Creations in Vancouver.

Manuka honey, which is made from the nectar of the Manuka tree in New Zealand, is high in antibacterial properties.

Zibadel’s owner, Fara Mikanikian, said his manuka chocolate bars are sold in Whole Foods and Choices Markets in B.C. but that now he was looking to expand across Canada.

Drink up

Beverages were also big at CHFA. These included Sealand Birk Water, which is water extracted from birch trees in Denmark in early spring, before the trees get their leaves.

The product is new to Canada said Christa Ou, buyer at Langley, B.C-based Best Brands Marketing, the broker handling Birk Water.

Meanwhile, several beverages touted their “super” health properties. For instance, Anti Plus Superfruit a berry juice that’s cold-pressed from Novidev Santé Active in L'Assomption, Que.

Thierry Houillon, company president, said the product contains no added water, only berries. A 125 ml bottle of blueberry Anti Plus Superfruit contains 124 berries, while the cranberry version of the drink is packed with 136 cranberries.

Anti Plus Superfruit is already sold at Sobeys’ Rachelle Béry health-food stores and Metro in Quebec, but is now launching in Ontario through Villa Anna Sales in Toronto.

Another beverage billed as “super” at CHFA was Rumble SuperShake. This hunger-quenching beverage can be consumed for breakfast or as an energy booster. Each 355 ml bottles contains 20 grams of protein, eight grams of fibre and 3,400 mg of omega-3.

The product made from 22 ingredients, including milk protein concentrate, green tea extract and organic spinach, was featured on Dragon’s Den. It comes from B.C.’s Rumble Drinks and is available in two flavours: Dutch Cocoa and Vanilla Maple.

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