I spent three days last week at the Baltimore Convention Center, surveying the consumer packaged goods industry’s best food packaging while nibbling, noshing, slugging down shots of coffee, kombucha and everything in-between, and figuring out the near future of what will soon be on your office desk. Your food future looks bright.
As we’ve seen all year, the big shift across categories is a movement towards portion-sized packaging. Sometimes called meal replacements, snacks are getting bigger. Layered on top of this snack and snack-sharing trend is the trend of adding nutrition ingredients, a.k.a. neutraceuticals – protein, probiotics, vitamins and minerals – to bars, rice cakes, and bite-size, gluten-free balls. More companies are going after nutritional and environmental benefits (grass-fed beef and by-products of beef, GMO-certification, and organic everything was the norm). And fermented foods aren’t going anywhere.
Here’s what inspired me at Expo East 2017,
Customized Drink Formats
The coolest new packaging trend in drinks is a push-top canister on water bottles. That is, push down on the cap to release the ingredients stored there, then shake your newly infused water with goodies. Caps, filled with ceremonial grade matcha in Buddha Tea’s Matcha Now or with probiotics in Karma Wellness Water’s Probiotics line, turn water into something more flavorful and healthful. And the separate storage does not compromise the integrity of the ingredients. Sweet!
New Super Berries
Açaí is so…2016. The berries you need to know about now come from Korea and Finland, not the Amazon. OmiBerry, known in Korea as Omija, or five flavor berry, delivers sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter flavors. Also known as Schisandra Chinesis, it arrives Stateside from Hyojongwon Corp. in Omiberry Tea, Omiberry Sparkling, and Omiberry Berry Syrup. Very slurpable and nutrient-dense.
The New Nordic movement that has swept the restaurant world is now coming to packaged goods. Berries native to northern Europe, such as sea buckthorn, cloudberry, and bilberry, pack in the anthocyanins (they slow down free radicals) and put açaí’s nutrient profile to shame. Roberts Berrie from Finland showcased portion-sized cups full of berries that you can drink, some with added fiber and protein.
Perhaps the single best thing I tasted at the show was the Mozzarisella from Italy’s Plant Based Foods. Made from sprouted brown rice, this cheese contains no dairy by-products (whey or casein), has a pliant texture akin to mozzarella di bufala, and melts beautifully on the tongue. Follow Your Heart also showcased their new line of six sliced vegan cheeses. Pepperjack Style Slices and Smoked Gouda Style Slices are as flavorful as they are clean – no soy here! Reformulated so it no longer sticks to your teeth, Daiya’s cheeses and cheese pizza are even better than before.
New Hummus and Tahini
The Mediterranean foods trend shows no sign of slowing and regional favorite ingredients continue to show up in new products. Ithaca Cold-Crafted never heats their chickpeas, treating them instead to a cold-pressed process which keeps their hummus’s flavor fresh. Yes, you really can taste fresh in packaged hummus, especially the Lemon Garlic. Though they would not reveal what makes their tahini taste so fresh, Al Arz Tahini sang with pure, bright sesame flavor.
Consumers are waking up to the micronutrient benefits of seaweed. Ocean’s Balance Kelp Purée is designed to be stirred into soups, smoothies or wherever you need to boost calcium and folate levels. And GimMe Snacks Seaweed Thins, roasted almond or coconut slivers sandwiched between two seaweed sheets, were addictively crunchy and easy to eat.
And, File under Fan Favorite
Raised in New Jersey, I am a huge fan of the amazing local produce that continues to thrive in quieter corners of the Garden State. The Jersey Tomato Co. works with farms in Vineland and Swedesboro to grown an heirloom varietal suited to the local climate for their line of flavorful, no added sweetener sauces. Marinara is a classic but the Hot Salsa is more novel. Either way, it’s all Jersey delicious.
This is just a snapshot of what I tasted. As I gaze into my crystal ball, I predict you will also be seeing more variations on gluten-free pasta (konjac noodles, anyone?) a spike in Asian flavors (lots of Japanese cherry blossom and Thai coconut plus those omija berries), ghee replacing butter as a paleo and fat coffee mainstay, and more dairy-free and paleo desserts than you can shake a stick at (dairy-free mochi is here to stay).
Love catching up on food trends? Here’s what we loved at San Francisco’s Fancy Food Show earlier this year.