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SIAL Canada showcases latest innovation and trends in food


There was much cause for celebration this year at SIAL Canada held May 11-13 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Not only was the trade show celebrating its tenth anniversary, it was the first time it took place in Toronto instead of Montreal.

The show, organized by EXPO Canada France, in partnership with SET Canada, provided many informative seminars on emerging sectors and trends in the industry.

On Wednesday, Isabelle Marquis, director of XTC World Innovation in North America, a market intelligence company, highlighted global food product trends.
She said consumer expectations can be summed up in five “axes”–ethics, convenience, pleasure, health and physical. When it comes to health, globally companies are cleaning up ingredient lists, with some even putting it right on the front of their packaging such as Maple Leaf’s Natural Selections line. The deli meat line features no preservatives, artificial ingredients or fillers.

Secondly, Marquis looked at the growth in sophisticated products–from packaging to the surprising mixture of complex tastes and textures. For example, a classic such as macaroni and cheese is now updated with lobster while apple pie becomes decadent with white chocolate and cranberry added.

As well, she said consumers are looking for cooking help to gain time or for better results. For example, Europe’s Best frozen roasted gourmet vegetables feature grill marks for home cooks looking for restaurant-like quality.

On Thursday, Claudia Schmidt, research associate at George Morris Centre, gave an overview of Canada’s specialty food sector, which is expected to grow as the visible minority population in Canada is forecasted to reach an estimated six to eight million in 2017 (from four million in 2001).

The Halal market, for example, has huge demand¬–experts say by 2013, nearly half of Canadian visible minority groups will be Muslims–but there’s a lack of supply in Canada, with a lot of lamb meat imported from New Zealand and Australia. Meanwhile, when it comes to kosher food, it’s gaining ground among the non-Jewish population as 25 per cent of Canadians surveyed believe it’s safer to consume.

There was no shortage of new product innovation on the trade floor that featured food from more than 40 countries and nearly 700 exhibitors. Among them:

For those concerned about health and wellness, Fructivia presented its rehydrated dried fruit with plant extracts. Available in nine varieties, it is targeted to a specific health concern, such as energy and vitality.

Chobani offered its Greek yogurts in 14 different flavours that feature only natural ingredients, real fruit, and twice the protein of regular yogurt.

New World Natural Foods presented dairy- and wheat-free Bliss Balls. Packaged in eco-friendly containers, bite-sized balls of fruit, nut, and virgin coconut are covered in chocolate for a healthy, yet indulgent treat.

For time-pressed consumers, Olida introduced refrigerated heat-and-eat meals in attractive take-out box packaging. There are six Asian and six Italian dishes.

Comavo showcased its ready to eat frozen guacamole in three different varieties: avocado pulp, spicy guacamole and original guacamole. It only needs to be run under warm water before it’s served.

Tillman’s presented Toasty, what it called the first frozen toaster-friendly snack in meat, vegetable and egg varieties featuring no artificial colours or flavours.

There was also plenty of gourmet, restaurant-inspired food as well.

Duhaime featured its Deluxe Fruit Spreads in gourmet flavours such as strawberry and champagne and tropical fruits and rum.

Aladdin Bakers featured its pre-grilled flatbread panini that can be served cold or heated. Flavours include pre-grilled spinach, pre-grilled southwest and pre-grilled sundried tomato.

Printemps Gourmet showcased its spreads and sauces, including its peppery mission fig cheese complement, and caramelized onion and citrus confit.

In the Trends and Innovations area, the top-10 most innovative products chosen by a jury were highlighted. Products were judged on their marketing strategy, manufacturing process, packaging and recipe.

The 10 products that qualified for the Trends and Innovations Awards were:
Creative (Medes Goncalves SA); Birch Sirup(Erabliere Escuminac); Meal-to-Go (Summer Fresh); Caramlized onion and espelette pepper (Brickstone Fine Food); Fruit & Fruit bars(Your Bar Factory); Entrée Creatives (Urban Foods-Provialys); Individual Potato Gratin (Cool & Simple); Grok (Gattuso); Maple Candies (Decacer); Quinoa Salad Kit (Tiffany Gates). Your Bar Factory Fruit & Fruit bars was awarded the grand prize. The fruit bars provide two servings of fruit and are free of trans fat, artificial flavour and preservatives.

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