CHICAGO — Convenience, indulgence and bold flavors were common themes among products on display from more than 900 food companies at the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s trade show, held Nov. 16-18 in Chicago. Small manufacturers and large public companies alike showcased a variety of differentiated offerings and capabilities that propel private brands beyond national brand equivalency.

From healthy snacks to gourmet condiments, here’s a small taste of the latest innovation in the private label segment.


Henry’s Humdingers

Heat and sweet unite in a line of spiced honeys that were featured on the television show “Shark Tank.” Henry’s Humdingers were developed by Burlington, Wash.-based Henry Miller, a teenager with concerns about colony collapse disorder and its effect on the bee population.

Varieties include Phoebe’s Fireball, which combines chipotle and cinnamon, Grumpy Grandpa, featuring red pepper and garlic, Naughty Nana, with spicy pepper and ginger, and Diabolical Dad, flavored with habanero and lime.

At the trade show, Denise Miller, chief operating officer and the creator’s mother, shared samples of the spicy sweeteners.

“Henry wishes he could be here,” she said, “but he had a test today.”

Oogie’s Gourmet Popcorn

With sales rising 27% in the past year, the ready-to-eat popcorn category is red hot. Oogie’s Snacks, Denver, collaborates with retailers to develop private label and store brand products with such unique flavor profiles as hatch chile con queso, cracked pepper and asiago, and smoked gouda.

The products are made with non-bioengineered corn and contain no artificial ingredients. Varieties on display at the show included cheeseburger, which captures hints of pickle, mustard, ketchup and flame-grilled beef in each kernel.

Ocean Snack Seaweed Crisps

Sliced almonds, seaweed and sesame seeds combine to create a nutritious snack from Woobo, a Commerce, Calif., maker of Korean food products. The crisps are flavored with a seasoning of soy sauce, anchovy, shrimp, kelp, red pepper powder and sugar, and contain 80 calories and 5 grams of protein per serving.

Veggie Roasters

From Urban Accents, Chicago, comes a line of seasoning packets for cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and more. Featuring such exotic flavor combinations as sweet and spicy Moroccan, spicy peri peri and lemon, parmesan Mediterranean, and Asian curry and honey, Veggie Roasters were created in response to an uptick in vegetable consumption. Each packet includes a recipe for roasting, baking or grilling up to 3 lbs of produce.

Grove Square Gourmet Soups and Sides

Rice and vegetables in a coffee machine? Bay Valley Foods, a subsidiary of Oak Brook, Ill.-based TreeHouse Foods, is expanding the single-serve category with soups and side dishes that are cooked in a Keurig brewer. In chicken noodle and vegetable beef varieties, the soup mixes contain a packet of dry ingredients and a K-Cup that produces flavored broth.

On the sweet side, Bay Valley is launching a collection of float mixes, featuring root beer, cherry cola, orange cream and salted caramel varieties. Each single-serve pod brews a flavored syrup topping for ice cream.

Pierre’s Chef’s Signature Ultimate Ice Cream

A pair of culinary-inspired concoctions from Pierre’s Ice Cream Co., Cleveland, includes Holé Molé, which combines cinnamon ice cream with chili chocolate chips, chocolate-covered toffee pieces and molé fudge swirl; and Croppy Road, featuring chocolate ice cream with chocolate-covered marshmallow cups, almonds and a smoky salted caramel swirl. The decadent offerings were designed by celebrity chefs.


The definition of mayonnaise may be under debate, but the folks at Calavo Growers, Santa Paula, Calif., describe their avocado-based sandwich spread as a vegan-friendly substitute. Made with Hass avocado, white vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and lime juice, Aveyo contains a fifth of the fat and a third of the calories of traditional mayonnaise, plus potassium, fiber and B vitamins, according to the company.

Calavo also introduced an avocado chocolate mousse, which mixes Hass avocados with cocoa, almond milk, agave nectar and vanilla extract to create a nutrient-rich indulgence — but sadly no samples were available at the show.

Pho Liquid Broth

A new line of broth concentrates from Savory Choice, San Mateo, Calif., offers a convenient solution for preparing pho, a trendy Vietnamese noodle soup. In chicken, beef and vegetable flavors, Pho Liquid Broths are packaged in premeasured pouches to be combined with a choice of protein, cooked rice noodles, vegetables and a garnish. The products are free of gluten and trans fats.

Ready to Bake

Baking brownies is dangerously easy with a new product from Prepat’33, based in Bordeaux, France. The company offers a line of liquid batter for cakes, brownies and muffins packaged in shelf-stable pouches. No additional ingredients needed. New to the lineup is a microwavable brownie mix that allows consumers to create a single serving or, for those with stronger willpower, a full batch.