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Simple ingredients and gut health highlight CHFA East

Our editors walked the show floor in search of trends from major health food trade show in Toronto

It was back to basics at the Canadian Health Food Association show in Toronto earlier this month, with a multitude of products containing very few ingredients.

The two-day show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre hosted 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.


There were a number of products touting simple, natural ingredients. Among these was RXBAR protein bars. Frustrated by the number of protein bars on the market containing multiple, unrecognizable ingredients, Peter Rahal and Jared Smith launched the RXBAR brand in the U.S. in 2013. The co-founders each invested US$5,000 and began making the bars out of Rahal's parents' basement. Four years later the company sold to Kellogg for US $600 million.

The bars come in multiple flavours and are made with simple, identifiable ingredients--egg whites for protein, dates to bind, dried fruits or nuts for texture--that are clearly labeled on each package. (The last item on the ingredients list sums up the brand ethos in two words: "No B.S.")

In Canada, the bars can only be purchased in 12 packs ($35.97) and only online through and, but the company says it has bigger distribution plans for 2019. There are six flavours available through these channels: Chocolate Sea Salt, Blueberry, Coconut Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate and Chocolate Chip.

The maker of Nomz--organic, vegan, paleo, gluten free and non GMO energy bites--is making a play in the frozen treats category with a dairy-free, vegan ice cream made with banana and nut butter. The ice creams are sold at Whole Foods in mini mason-type jars for $9.99 and are available in almond butter, hazelnut butter, coconut butter and pistachio butter varieties.


From simple ingredients to simply made, cold-pressed, organic pouched baby food brand Once Upon a Farm covers the bases. The California-based company, co-founded by actress Jennifer Garner, says its products are made in three easy steps: fresh produce gets picked, blended and pressed. That's it. The line is available in five flavours--Green Kale & Apples, Mama Bear Blueberry, Sun-Shiny Strawberry Patch, Wild Rumpus Avocado and OhMyMega Veggie--and retails for $2.49 per pouch. The line is only sold at national grocery store chains in the U.S., and the company is looking to break into the Canadian market.

That’s it., an aptly named Los Angeles-based snack brand that boasts extremely simple ingredients lists, had its fruit bars and veggie bars on display at the show. Most of the fruit bars are made from only two ingredients (three at the most). The Apple + Strawberries bar contains one apple and 12 strawberries, for instance--nothing else, including no added sugar--while the Apple + Banana bar contains just one apple and one banana, and the Apple + Pineapple contains one apple and one quarter of a pineapple.


With the global market for probiotic ingredients predicted to exceed US$64 billion by 2023, it's no surprise they're popping up in everything from drinks to snack bars. Welo was showcasing new flavours in its line of probiotic bars including Activated Charcoal, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip. The bars are gluten, corn and soy free, contain 3 billion vegan probiotics and only 3 grams of sugar. And, the company says these bars don't need to be refrigerated, unlike most products containing probiotic ingredients. The Toronto company, which also produces probiotic cold pressed juices and apple cider vinegar drinks, will be featured on an episode of Dragon's Den on CBC this fall.

Fermented foods are also known for being great for gut health, and California-based Wildbrine had its tasty selection of fermented innovations on display at the show. Wildbrine’s full line of naturally fermented organic krauts come in flavours like Organic Arame & Ginger, Organic Smoky Kale, Organic Green Kraut and Organic Red Kraut. The live, raw wild-fermented krauts are vegan, gluten free and kosher. Wildbrine was also displaying its Kimchi Live shots, brewed from whole ingredients including Napa cabbage, korean peppers and fresh herbs. Flavours include Citrusy Japanese, Spicy Korean and Zesty Thai.





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