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New foods and 50 years of CFIG at Grocery Showcase West


The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocer's kicked off its 50th anniversary year with an opening cocktail event at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Friday night. Albert Lum of Buy-Low Foods acted as honourary chair welcoming attendees to the annual event in the beautiful backdrop of the mountains and seawall.

See pictures from the opening cocktail below:

Sunday, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocer's Grocery Showcase West conference began with a 50th anniversary celebratory brunch.

At the gathering, John Scott, president and CEO of CFIG, together with the current chair, Brent Battistelli, presented the association's anniversary book to key retailers and sector leaders for their support.

Following the brunch, the trade show at the Vancouver Convention Centre officially opened to an awaiting crowd.

There are more than 400 booths including a small Canadian Processors Pavilion, First Time Exhibitors Pavilion, and CFIG's anniversary museum.

Check out some pictures from the tradeshow floor:

Some of the key trends from the show included a return to the basics, with more emphasis on "free-of" food offerings. Some notable products included Rude Health's line of UK cereals (distributed by Dovetale Collections). The cereals are gluten-free, and have no added salt or refined sugars.

Nature's Path meanwhile featured superfood breakfast cereals in their new lineup Qi'a that are USDA organic, non GMO, and gluten free. The ingredients in the line feature chia, buckwheat and hemp in three flavours: original, apple cinnamon and cranberry vanilla.

The humble potato chip is going high-end with the emphasis on flavour, and processing. Dovetale presented Darling Spuds hand-cooked British potato chips that are gluten free, and contain no major allergens.There's also Hardbite potato chips from Naturally Home Grown Foods in Maple Ridge, B.C., that are thickly cut and slow cooked and hand turned with no additives or preservatives and are gluten-free.

Vegetables are playing a larger role in snack and drink offerings as well, with the sudden burst in popularity of kale chips on food blogs and cooking shows; Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips were presented at GSW and they are gluten-free, vegan, cholesterol-free and certified USDA organic. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and carotenoids.

For those who want to drink their vegetables, there was Raw Foods' Raaw fruit and vegetable juices. There are six SKUS; the passion fruit wheatgrass features 100 per cent natural ingredients, no sugar added and no preservatives.

Consumers are also looking for more alternatives to sugar; Organika's Coconut Palm Sugar is touted as a natural sweetener that contains no artificial colours or flavours and is organic and 100 per cent natural. It comes from the nectar of the coconut palm blossom and can be simply substituted with a 1:1 replacement ration to cane sugar. The flavour is similar to light brown sugar, without the metallic finish typical in cane sugar and has notes of light butterscotch and caramel.

As people are looking to slow cooking, there's a return to flavoured oils and vinegars. There were notable ones at the show including The Vinegar Lady's line of fruit vinegars that feature locally grown B.C. products. Flavours include raspberry, blackberry, cherry, blueberry, peach and pear flavoured vinegars that can be used in reductions, salads and marinades.

Also out of B.C. is Whistler's Nonna Pia's Balsamic Reductions that can be used as a finishing sauce for meats and seafood, to toppings on pizza, salads or breads. Created by chef Norm Strim, the reductions are created by slow cooking the vinegar for 10 to 12 hours, and infused with whenever possible locally sourced fruit and herbs.

Meanwhile Casa Balsamica glazes from Modena, Italy, are to be used as a food seasoning condiment, and are thicker than the ordinary balsamic vinegars. They come in squeezable, top down bottles with flip top cap in unique flavours as cherry, raspberry and orange.

In oils, there's O-Live extra virgin olive oil that is pressed and picked in the Colchagua Valley, Chile. The company harvests the fruit and then presses the olives within two hours of picking resulting in a fresh, mild taste, ideal for grilling.

New Zealand's Alfa ONe Rice Bran Oil meanwhile is another up and comer. It contains no cholesterol, but has a light flavour and high smoke point, making it both ideal for deep frying and for baking.

The coconut proved to popular once again with Organika's organic virgin coconut oil that is not only great for baking and high heat, since it doesn't breakdown unlike other oils.

In condiments, there's Kikkoman's Wasabi Sauce that comes in a squeezable bottle and is for sandwiches and dipping.

Convenience, and indulgence were also big themes on the floor, with Dr. Oetker's Mug Cake a hit among attendees. The mix can be poured into a standard mug and microwaved for less than two minutes to get a delectable chocolate cake. There's also Rocket Foods' Oatmeals on the go that come in portable paper cups with simple, pure ingredients such as pure oats and organic evaporated cane juice.

Dark chocolate lovers meanwhile can enjoy Natrel's new dark choclate partly skimmed milk that contains real chocolate.

And flavoured water continues to be a big trend, with Kraft's new launch of Mio liquid water enhancer. With a few squirts, an ordinary water bottle can be turned into mango peach, fruit punch, strawberry watermelon or berry pomegranate. Sweetened with sucralose, Mio comes in portable 48 ml containers that make 24 servings.

For those at-home parties, Island Originals offers frozen drink and smoothie mixes, like their 500ml Margarita flavour that can be combined with ice and liquor and blended for a refreshing treat.

On Sunday evening, attendees celebrated in style with a retro 60s party at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Check out the costumes:

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