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Trendspotting: keeping it simple at SIAL

Forget complicated ingredient lists; many products are sticking to basics

There’s something to be said for keeping things simple—particularly when it comes to food and beverages.

Several products spotted on the second day of the SIAL Canada trade exposition contain few—and in some cases, just one—ingredient. In a time when food companies and nutritionists alike create messaging about the importance of using (and eating) only ingredients people can pronounce, these products stick to the basics.

Van Dyk’s 100% Pure Wild Blueberry Juice contains only that: wild blueberries. More specifically, they are Canada Grade A wild lowbush blueberries grown in Nova Scotia. The juice comes from whole blueberries grown in fields owned by the Van Dyk family; it is not from juice concentrate. No sugar, water or preservatives are added to this flavourful juice. It has a one-year shelf life.

Randy MacDonald, business manager at Van Dyk’s Health Juice Products, said the antioxidant-packed juice has multiple applications, and can be used in everything from smoothies to reductions for pork or veal. It can also be added to sparkling water, said MacDonald. The target demographics for the juice are female buyers for the household that want to make healthy choices for their family, as well as the boomer generation that is interested in continuing a healthy lifestyle later in life.

The 500-millilitre bottles are sold nationally in the health food section of Loblaws and Sobeys; in Ontario, the product is distributed by UNFI and also available in grocers including Longo’s, Whole Foods and Goodness Me. It also has distributors in Edmonton and Nova Scotia.

Another tasty product at SIAL stood out because of its use of a single ingredient: an apple syrup made from 100% apple juice. Unlike other apple syrups, this product has no sugar added. “It’s completely natural,” said Vergers Cataphard’s Mélissa Cataphard, who is part of the fourth generation of the family that runs the Quebec apple producer.

The apple syrup (pictured), which comes in a 250-millilitre bottle, can be used in a wide spectrum of recipes, ranging from salad dressings and granola bars to sangria and poultry. Cataphard told Canadian Grocer that the syrup can also be used as a sweetener in place of sugar in coffee, and is a good alternative for diabetics looking for something sweet. She said its glycemic index is five times lower than that of white sugar.

This week’s appearance at SIAL marks the first time the product has been exhibited outside of Quebec. The apple syrup launched in Quebec roughly three years ago and is currently sold in Metro and IGA stores in that province. It’s stocked in the produce section close to the bags of apples, said Cataphard.

The company handles its own distribution in Quebec and is currently looking for distribution in Ontario and the rest of Canada.

Keeping with the limited ingredients trend seen the show, Fruit of the Land debuted its new line of jams. The private label collection contains 75% fruit preserve, and comes in flavours including apple, fig and apricot. The fresh (never dried), sun-ripened fruits used in the jams come from a farm in the Carmel region of Israel. VP of marketing, Stacey Kurtz, said the jam line is designed for families. “You feel good giving it to your kids,” she said. “It’s fresh fruit in a jar.”

Beyond the standard way the jams can be paired with bagels or scones, it can also be spooned into Greek or low-fat yogurt, said Kurtz. The apricot flavour makes a nice glaze for chicken, she added, and the fig jam complements a cheese platter. “We see jam as well beyond the breakfast table,” said Kurtz.

The jams are currently available at Fruit of the Land’s year round store in Promenade Mall in Thornhill, Ont.; the company is looking for a distributor for outside of the Greater Toronto Area.

Other companies found a simple packaging tweak or the addition of one ingredient could lead to a new and innovative product.

Black River Cheese, based in Milford, Ont., recently changed the text on its iconic logo to read “Prince Edward County” rather than “naturally aged” to emphasize the localness of the product.

Ross Chamberlain, account manager with Black River, said specialty cheeses have become a big hit for the artisan cheesemaker. Its maple cheddar, infused with maple syrup from a local producer, is the company’s best selling product. It inspired other flavours like honey cheddar and wine cured cheddar, with the honey and wine also sourced from local wineries and honey farms.

Woolwich Dairy also created several products stemming from its original Chevrai goat cheese. While Woolwich’s original flavoured chevre is still popular, marketing manager Jenna Pringle said the company has been able to incorporate popular flavour trends into the mix, creating goat cheese varieties such as thai fusion, taziki, lemon & lime, and even sriracha.

This was the third SIAL show in Toronto since organizer SIAL Canada announced in 2010 that it would begin alternating the show each year between Toronto and Montreal. Before then the show was only held in Montreal.

Attendance was up 20 per cent during the first two days compared to the last show in Toronto in 2013, Xavier Poncin, SIAL Canada's executive director, told Canadian Grocer Thursday.

He added that the number of exhibitors was 835 from 45 countries, an 11 per cent increase from the last Toronto show.

Several exhibitors interviewed by Canadian Grocer said they had been able to see representatives from major Canadian grocers.

Poncin said that SIAL had also made an effort through its U.S. Buyers program to attract American grocers to this show. He noted that buyers from New York-based Wegmans and several American independents were at the show.

SIAL wrapped up Thursday afternoon. The next show will be held April 13 to 15 in Montreal.

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