Kombucha and protein take centre stage at CHFA East

Our editors pick the top trends from major health food trade show in Toronto

More kombucha and protein. Less gluten and GMOs. At the Canadian Health Food Association show in Toronto this past weekend, which ingredients were missing from a product was often as important as what was in it.

The two-day show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre proved a busy affair, with companies from across North America showcasing the latest in natural and healthy fare.

Canadian Grocer’s editorial team was there, checking out the latest trends and which new items are on the way to store shelves.

As expected, gaining food trends were all across the show. Case in point: Paleo, a grain-free, dairy-free diet based on the eating habits of cavemen. Several exhibitors promoted the Paleo credentials of their products.

Among then was Bob’s Red Mill, which is gearing to launch Paleo baking flour in 453-gram and 907-gram bags in Canada. The product hit U.S. stores more than a month ago. It’s for those looking to bake everything from cookies to pizza crusts using grain-free flour.

Paleo flour is a combination of several flours—namely, almond, organic coconut and tapioca—plus arrowroot starch. A spokesperson at the booth noted that grain-free flours such as Bob’s Red Mill almond flour have been selling well in Canada. So there’s every reason to believe that Paleo flour will catch on, too.

Another Paleo-inspired item at CHFA East was Boned Broth. The Kelowna, B.C.-based company’s beef broth is made from the bones of grass-fed, ethnically raised cows, simmered for 14 to 18 hours, then flash frozen.

Launched last November, the soups are sold in some 400 stores across the country. Co-founder Shane Whittle said his company is pioneering the “bone broth category into grocery.”

The broths, available in beef, chicken and hemp varieties, are sold in stylish 500ml soup containers. But stores can also incorporate the broths into their HMR sections. For instance, Whittle noted that Nature’s Fair Markets, a B.C. natural supermarket chain, is selling Boned Broth in coffee cups in its prepared foods department.

For those looking for a Paleo snack, there’s Great Bear Paleo Bites, grab-and-go snacks that are also vegan and gluten-free. Company founder Tracy Lydiatt, a former geologist, started making the bites for herself as something to eat between crossfit workouts.

Soon she began selling them to others, and today the bites are made in a church in Oliver, B.C. in three varieties: Apple Cinna Summit, Cocoa Goji Mojo, and Lemon Cran Trail. True to Great Bear Paleo Bites’ name, Lydiatt said that two years ago a bear broke into her car and devoured a box of the snacks.

Great Bear Paleo Bites wasn’t the only snack with bite-sized appeal at CHFA. While the show’s aisles are usually filled with companies selling snack and energy bars, this year several exhibitors were promoting bites rather than bars.

Among these was Triple Goodness Bites, which contain a greatest hits trio of trendy ingredients: quinoa, chia and hemp. Oh, and dark chocolate, too.

The product was launched just weeks ago by Toronto-based Triple Goodness in 100-gram bags with eight bites per bag. Flavours include banana chip, toasted oats, maple flax, and seat salt.

Also trying to take a bite out of the snack market is Bounce. The Australian company has been in Canada for four years selling its protein energy snacks called Bounce Balls, due to their rounded shape.

But this month it’s launching Bounce Bites that contain ingredients such as nuts, fruit and whey protein in 120-gram resealable pouches. Traci Artus, who handles sales and events for Bounce in Canada, said the bites will be available in three varieties: coconut almond, coconut cacao, and blueberry banana.

Bars and bites weren't the only sources of protein. CoolWhey claims to be North America's first protein ice cream, containing 40 grams of protein per 500ml container of chocolate chip crisp, vanilla and salted caramel. Available mainly in health food stores, the company is launching a lower protein (23g) ice cream with flavours strawberry banana, coconut, chocolate and peanut butter into stores, starting with Whole Foods.

The founders of ProTings were frustrated with the lack of protein options beyond bars and shakes so created a vegan, gluten-free, 120-calorie bag of chips containing 15g of protein. Flavours include Tangy Southern Barbecue, Spicy Chili Lime, Toasted Sea Salt and Zesty Nacho.

Also created by gym-goers bored with the same sources of protein, Lenny & Larry's, from Panorama City, Calif., makes protein-filled brownies, muffins and cookies, which are also vegan, non-GMO, kosher and contain no trans fat. The cookies are packaged in single servings in double chocolate peanut butter, birthday cake, chocolate chip and snickerdoodle and contain 16g of protein per cookie.

With fall around the corner, it only makes sense that shoppers are likely to gravitate to warm soups as the weather gets colder. Burnaby, B.C.-based company Happy Planet was showcasing new flavours at the show, including comfort classics like chicken pot pie and tomato and grilled cheese. Happy Planet also aims to capitalize on the popularity of ethnic food with the launch of a Korean hot and sour soup.

Other companies also noticed the appeal of soups and broths that extend beyond the classic chicken noodle. Imagine Foods, a Hain Celestial brand, was sampling a miso broth that requires only the addition of tofu, scallions and seaweed.

Bone Brewhouse, another company inspired by the Paleo trend, showcased a Vietnamese pho broth alongside its original bone broth and lemon ginger flavouring.

Fermented tea, kombucha, beverages were evident throughout the show. Clear mind, lemon ginger cayenne and love are just some of the flavours available in Townshend's Brew Dr. Kombucha. The drinks are organic and 100% raw kombucha. There are no juices or flavourings added after fermentation. The product is packaged much like a craft beer.

With colourful, artistic design, Clearly Kombucha made its first trip up to Canada from San Francisco Bay Area for the show. It's a sparkling tea with flavours including black current, chai cola, raspberry ginger, strawberry hibiscus, tangerine and raspberry lemonade. Last fall the company launched a seasonal brew pumpkin spiced flavour kombucha with only 25 available bottles.

Forget salt and vinegar and all-dressed—the modern chip has gotten a makeover.

Late July, one of Syder's Lances' brands, was sampling chips with a spice, including jalapeño lime and bacon habanero.

The Gourmet Secrets, based out of Edmonton, Alta., were featuring what they call a cheeto for adults. Cheesy puffs (made in a cheese puffery) come in flavours such as blue cheese jalapeño and sriracha cheddar.

Kettle brand potato chips were introducing new flavours such as Moscow mule (based on the popular cocktail) and Korean barbecue. Kettle was capitalizing on the avocado craze with a new line of chips made with avocado oil.

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