Snacks in new ways – Every traditional snack that you can think of (potato chips, cookies, etc.), seemed to have a newer and healthier competitor at this year’s show. Most of the chips at the show weren’t made from potatoes. They were made from beans, lentils, pasta, kale, rice, falafel, seaweed, pumpkin, or coconut, just to name a few. There was hummus made from carrots and beets instead of chick peas, and bacon in the form of a spread to upgrade your crackers or sandwich. Popcorn was on a new level, featuring interesting flavours like fudge, Thai coconut curry, sriracha, cranberry, almonds, salted caramel, and even crab seasoning along with clean and sophisticated packaging.
Fun, upscale desserts – The desserts featured at the show were all about being upscale, yet fun. There was wine ice cream in flavours like cherry merlot, chocolate cabernet, and peach white zinfandel. Chocolate was not featured in bars so much, but rather as “bark” or brilliantly mixed with bourbon as a topping on peanut brittle. Also on display were pie pops which brought rich, delicious pie concepts to life on a stick. Some of the flavours included key lime, banana cream, and caramel apple crumble. Also of note was the abundance of gelato and sorbetto. There was every type imaginable from agave nectar-sweetened to organic in all kinds of interesting flavours like strawberry balsamic, peanut butter stracciatella, cool limone, peanut butter pretzel and Vietnamese iced coffee.
Food truck inspiration – There were many products inspired by the food truck craze at the show. There was even an exhibitor in the “what’s hot, what’s new” area that featured an actual food truck distributing samples to attendees. Also spotted were food truck packaging, packaged Korean tacos (similar to Chef Roy Choi’s famous taco trucks in Los Angeles), on-the-go fusion food like lemon grass curry and sweet ginger enclosed sandwiches, and bagged mini samosas.
Grown-up beverages – From carbonated soft drinks, to healthy juices, there was an abundance of drinks targeted at adults. Upstairs I spotted Nostalgia soda and downstairs soda with the tag line “soda for grown-ups” in flavours like dry meyer lemon, dry pomegranate, and cranberry lime. Another interesting find was all-natural soda with interesting flavours like ginger-apricot-allspice and pineapple-coconut-nutmeg. Other grown-up beverages included “drinking vinegar” with flavours like spiced beet and Thai twists, BBQ Bloody Mary mixers, craft cocktail mixers with lavender bloom and sriracha margarita, waters with only a hint of flavour, and kombucha soda.
Bring the heat – There was heat everywhere throughout the show. Snacks, sauces, sides, and even drinks were getting in on the spicy craze. Chili lime and sriracha seemed to be the most popular flavours across many categories at the show. Heat even showed up in confectionery products with craft chocolates in flavours like raisin-Vietnamese-cinnamon-walnut, Chipotle peanut and black pepper walnut. Also of note were spicy tomato herb pasta chips, white cheddar jalapeno popcorn, red habanero mustard, wasabi pretzel balls, roasted raspberry chipotle sauce, pistachio and roasted pepper dip, yuzu citrus red chili sauce, and much more.