COLOGNE, GERMANY – Three weeks after Anuga, the world’s largest food exhibition, ended, there is still a buzz around the innovative products showcased at the event. While the show broke records in both exhibitor and attendance numbers, with about 160,000 trade visitors from 192 countries attending the biennial expo, it also exposed visitors to new ideas and opportunities.

Anuga 2015 presented more than 7,000 exhibitors from 108 countries. The exhibitors were separated into more than a dozen halls designated by one of 10 different themes, with one of the largest sectors being drinks. In fact, more than 500 exhibitors were in the drink hall, with likely another 500 spread out over other halls.

Within the entire beverage sector, the fruit juice, water and soft drink segments were strongly represented, with energy drinks remaining an important theme, but not as overwhelming as they were at the expo two years ago. The trend towards functional nutrition also proved to be a strong driver of innovation, as were products with reduced calories and less sugar. As was expected, protein-enhanced beverages had a strong presence, but what was not expected were the plethora of drinkable egg beverages.

That’s right, drinkable eggs. Milk and plants historically have been sources of protein for ready-to-drink beverages. It appears eggs are emerging as an additional protein source.

At Anuga, Austria’s Toni’s Handels GmbH, a producer of free-range eggs, received Taste 15 accolades for its new Toni’s Smoothei fruit and whole egg drinks. Toni’s Smoothei contains 12 vitamins and minerals, along with protein from free-range eggs. The refrigerated single-serve bottles come in three varieties, including peach passionfruit, raspberry Riesling and strawberry ginger.

Taste 15 is an accolade bestowed upon the best new products at Anuga. This year, more than 830 companies applied to have their over 2,000 ideas included in the competition. In total, the jury selected 61 products and concepts that convinced in terms of idea, innovative power and creative implementation.

Denmark’s Dava Foods introduced White, a protein beverage made only from egg whites, flavoring and coloring. The pasteurized, refrigerated product comes in a 220-ml plastic bottle and has an unopened shelf life of up to six weeks. A single bottle delivers 22 grams of protein and comes in four varieties: pomegranate, strawberry, tropical and vanilla. The beverage is fat-free, lactose-free and contains no preservatives.

Finland’s Munax Oy’s egg beverage is named Laitilan Proegg Protein Smoothie. With no added sugar (the product is slightly sweetened with stevia and fruit), a 500-gram gable-top carton contains the whites of a dozen eggs blended with fruit puree and juice. The fat-free, lactose-free beverage provides 8 grams of protein per 100-gram serving, meaning one carton contains 40 grams of protein.

Dairy on display as well

Dairy proteins were showcased in an array of beverage applications including a new on-the-go breakfast option. Austria’s TSC Food Products introduced Dancing Cow 1-Minute Breakfast, which is a blend of skim milk and cereals (wheat, barley, oat and rice) and comes in two varieties: banana and chocolate. The drinks are nearly 90% milk, with each 250-ml single-serve bottle containing about 170 calories, 8.5 grams of protein and less than a half gram of fat. The product gets a nutritional boost from the addition of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, calcium and folic acid. The shelf-stable dairy beverages made in Germany have a nine-month unopened ambient shelf life. They contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Finland’s Valio introduced lactose-free fluid milk drinks in semi-skimmed, protein and barista formulations. The perishable products were joined by a new line of lactose-free instant milk powders. Being dried and non-perishable allows for long-distance travel and ambient distribution.

Austria’s Ennstal Milch showcased an extensive range of coffee-milk packages available for private label. This includes single-serve lidded cups, carton cans and glass bottles. Many of the formulations were positioned as being higher in protein or energy-inducing (from the caffeine in the coffee).

iCafe coffee beverages
iCafe is a line of shelf-stable canned drinks that are available in three indulgent, yet low in fat, varieties, including French vanilla, latte and mocha.

From Singapore, Boncafe International made its entry into the growing ready-to-drink coffee-milk beverage sector. The company’s iCafe line of shelf-stable canned drinks comes in three indulgent, yet low in fat, varieties, including French vanilla, latte and mocha.

An interesting spin on dairy comes from Austria’s Berg Bauer with its new Sodala Spritzzz. The refrigerated beverage combines buttermilk, fruit juice and sparkling water, providing for a nutritious and refreshing drink. The two flavors are green tea lemonade and strawberry grape.

Speaking of tea, there were many interesting twists on iced tea, the most popular way to consume tea in the United States and a format that’s catching on elsewhere in the world.

Mangajo in the United Kingdom markets a range of still fruit juice and tea combinations. Now there are two sparkling options: lemon and green tea and pomegranate and green tea. From the Modello Group in Greece comes Aloe Love Iced Tea in passion and pomegranate varieties. They contain aloe vera juice and gel, along with fruit juice and green tea extract.

Plant-based innovation

Four plant-based beverages received Taste 15 accolades. Austria’s Evasis Edibles GmbH introduced Helga, a functional beverage based on algae, which is a source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll. A single-serve 250-ml bottle contains 30 calories.

Froosh is a line of 100% fruit – and now fruit and vegetable — juices produced by the Swedish namesake company. The company received a Taste 15 award for its new spinach and coconut milk drink. Other new offerings include a starfruit with yuzu and beetroot with black currant.

Interestingly, beetroot appeared as an ingredient in a number of new beverage innovations, including BIO Rüben Herz, a Taste 15 winner from Austria’s Voglsam GmbH. The beverage is a unique combination of 80% concentrated beetroot juice that is fermented, 10% concentrated Jerusalem artichoke (a source of inulin fiber), 5% passionfruit puree and 5% herbal extract (peppermint, lemon balm, lavender, stinging nettle and black cumin). The drink comes in a 3-liter bag-in-box concept.

The vegetable beetroot is on its way to becoming the next superfood, as it is loaded in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, according to the company. When combined with the Jerusalem artichoke and herbal extract blend, the drink supports a healthy digestive system. A 100-ml serving contains 125 calories, 0.5 gram of fat, 2.5 grams of protein and 4.3 grams of fiber.

Another Taste 15 winner was found in the fine food hall. From Great Britain’s Ovio Wellness Ltd., Ovio Infusion is a line of beverages based on olive leaf extract, which is a source of polyphenols and flavonoids. The cucumber and juniper variety received the award. Other flavors in the line include lemon and mint and strawberry and elderberry.

There were numerous twists on apple juice at Anuga. Austria’s Omi’s Apfelstrudel is a cloudy apple juice with a hint of cinnamon formulated to taste like grandma’s baked strudel. It is designed for the adult palate.

Another adult-centric innovation came from Germany’s Possmann GmbH, which received a Taste 15 award for its Pure Cider. The hard apple cider is available in original and rose varieties, with the latter flavored with a splash of black currant.

Two of the most interesting adult beverages were part of Anuga’s special wine-tasting zone that included a scheduled seminar program as well as an open tasting forum. First-class sommeliers were available to discuss everything from grape cultivation to culinary pairings.

Not available for sampling because of its exclusive nature and price point was a newly released wine from Austria’s Leo Hillinger Estate. With only 999 bottles of Icon Hill produced this year, the wine commanded an exceptional bottle, and box to protect that bottle, which were both designed by Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-British architect who in 2004 became the first woman recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

VV wine
ViniVega, a vegetable-based wine, is the brainchild of two vegetable growers who wanted to explore innovative applications for their crops of tomatoes and paprika.

Another unique product came from The Netherlands. Described as both a cooking and drinking wine, new ViniVega is the brainchild of two enterprising vegetable growers who wanted to explore innovative applications for their crops of tomatoes and paprikas. The farmers worked with Neerlands Wijnmakerij, one of the largest Dutch wineries, to produce the first-of-their kind vegetable wines.

Mark your calendar and plan early for the next Anuga, which will take place Oct. 7-11, 2017, in Cologne, Germany. For more information, click here.