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Superfoods, natural products on display at bakery show

The Bakery Congress show featured the latest gluten-free products, as well as a push for more natural ingredients

If the exhibits at Bakery Congress 2013 are any indication, consumer concerns for health and wellness are paramount.

Held in Vancouver May 5-6, products ranged from natural sweeteners to sprouted grains, palm oils and kosher and vegan lines.

“The gluten free market is still very strong,” said Paul Hetherington, president and CEO of the Baking Association of Canada, organizers of the show. “The focus that we’re seeing a lot from the industry in regards to product offering is the drive toward natural and how to make a healthier product by introducing whole grains and removing some of the additives.”

There was a healthy dose of coconut oils and sugars on display–the newest in superfoods said to prevent a host of ailments from heart disease to Alzheimer’s.

Ryan Welton of natu’oil Services was singing the praises of red palm oil which he says is free of trans fat and high in beta-carotene, while Sikat Trading was handing out samples of a gluten-free, vegan lemon bar made with coconut flour, coconut oil and coconut sugar.

Stephanie dela Pena, director, brand management at Sikat, said she believe they are the only company importing green-banana flour into Canada, a product which she says carries all the health benefits of bananas, but is moister than other gluten free flours.

Matt Willer, vice-president sales and marketing for Xylitol USA, was touting the superiority of xyla, the “un-sugar.” Willer said there has been so much negative publicity about artificial sweeteners in the last couple of years, but in the last 12 months there has been equally as much pressure on refined sugar as a cause of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. “All of a sudden people are trying to find that alternative that is not sugar and not a chemical.” Xyla, he said, is a natural sugar with 40% fewer calories than refined sugar, 75% fewer carbohydrates, and safe for diabetics.

The company supplies 75 different products including pure palm organic coconut palm sugar and naturally sugar free gum to retailers such as Whole Foods, Choices and London Drugs.

Not everyone at the Bakery Congress however was promoting gluten free.

Austin Hohn, account manager for Rogers Foods, was showcasing the company’s organic wholegrain and artisan flours. “Flour and flour-based products can still be healthy and beneficia–there are still good healthy options when it comes to bread,” he said. “Artisan flours have a longer fermentation time and are more beneficial to the digestive system.”

BAC’s Bakery Showcase takes place May 4-6, 2014, at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont.

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