Fats, fermented foods and fizzy beverages popular among new natural and organic products.
Product developers are using peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas to create protein-rich and gluten-free snacks, pastas and more.
“While protein continues to see a strong demand, consumers are being more selective about the source,” said Jenna Blumenfeld, senior food editor at New Hope Network, in an interview with Food Business News before Expo West. “There is increasing awareness that traditional protein sources like beef, pork, animal sources, chicken and the like use a tremendous amount of water and resources, so we’re seeing bean-based protein rising.”
New pulse-based snack products include Peas Please white cheddar baked pea snacks from Peeled Snacks, Brooklyn; Skinny Dippers baked black and white bean-based chips from Austin, Texas-based Beanitos; and snacking lupini beans from Brami Beans, New York.
Pulses pop up in new pasta products from Explore Cuisine, Red Bank, N.J., and Modern Table Meals, Walnut Creek, Calif.
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Product makers are going against the grain feed with new meat and dairy products derived from grass-fed animals.
“I think this is a rising trend not only because the ‘grass-fed’ term conjures this bucolic image of cattle grazing on a green hill, but I think it also assuages fears of animals being fed G.M.O. grain,” Ms. Blumenfeld said. “Some say it tastes better.”
Recent innovations include 100% grass-fed whole milk drinkable yogurt from Maple Hill Creamery, Stuyvesant, N.Y., grass-fed beef and pork jerky from Lawless Jerky, Marlton, N.J., and grass-fed beef bone broth from Bare Bones Broth Co., Medford, Ore. Debuting from Barnana, Santa Monica, Calif., is raw and unpasteurized grass-fed gorilla milk, which the company said is more genetically similar to mother’s milk.
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Boasting natural probiotic benefits, fermented foods and beverages are gaining ground as an alternative to yogurts and supplements. Farmhouse Culture, Santa Cruz, Calif., is introducing a line of Gut Shot organic probiotic vegetable drinks in intriguing flavors including garlic dill pickle, smoked jalapeño, kimchi and ginger beet. The products may be added to soups, salads or sauces or swigged like a beverage, the company said.
“With fermentation, rather than add probiotics to foods that typically wouldn’t have them, like baking mixes, brands are prioritizing natural fermentation processes,” Ms. Blumenfeld said.
Joining the likes of kombuchas, krauts and kimchis on the trade show floor were fermented tea leaves from Burma Superstar, San Francisco; sauces made with fermented onions and seasonings from Cultured & Saucy, Santa Barbara, Calif.; and vinegar-based beverages from such brands as Pok Pok Som of Portland and CideRoad Organic Switchel, Mendham, N.J.
“Not only do these products provide digestive health benefits, but they also tap into this growing consumer interest in products that are less sweet and maybe even have a savory taste profile,” said Carlotta Mast, executive director of content for New Hope Network, during a presentation at Expo West. “It’s a hot trend for many reasons.”
Companies are committing to sustainability in creative new ways.
“The whole food waste story is continuing to gain traction,” Ms. Blumenfeld said. “There are so many companies trying to utilize ingredients that would normally be thrown away, and packaging is a big story there, too.”
Alter Eco, San Francisco, is launching an innovative new compostable pouch for quinoa, developed to help reduce the more than 17% of plastic landfill materials in the United States.
“We’ve never had a fully compostable pouch like that, and it’s paving the way for the rest of the industry to get on board with that, also,” Ms. Blumenfeld said.
The trend also refers to nose-to-tail sourcing, exemplified by Austin, Texas-based Epic Provisions’ new lines of bone broths and animal cooking fat, as well as products made with repurposed ingredients, such as San Clemente, Calif.-based KonaRed beverages made with the discarded portion of the coffee fruit, and New York-based Sir Kensington’s new Fabanaise vegan mayo, made with aquafaba, the water left over from cooking chickpeas. Barnana upcycles imperfect organic bananas previously tossed at farms to create potassium-rich snacks.
Fat is no longer feared by consumers, who have come to embrace such natural sources as avocados, coconut milk, butter and lard. Avocado oil has become a popular alternative to canola and vegetable oils, which are off-limits in a Paleo lifestyle, Ms. Blumenfeld said. New products include avocado oil mayonnaise from Primal Kitchen, Malibu, Calif., and Kettle Brand potato chips cooked in 100% avocado oil from Kettle Foods, Inc. From Si O Si Superfoods, Mexico City, makes freeze-dried avocado chips under the Yumma Superfoods brand.
Also trending are whole-milk and cream-on-top yogurts. Smari Organics, Petaluma, Calif., has expanded its line of Icelandic-style yogurt with four full-fat flavors, which include black cherry and chia, New Orleans coffee, key lime and pineapple. The brand said Icelandic yogurt traditionally had been made nonfat for centuries.
Ghee, or clarified butter, is gaining fame in fats. 4th & Heart, Los Angeles, offers such varieties as Madagascar vanilla bean, Himalayan pink salt and white truffle sea salted.
“What I think is most exciting about natural fats is it’s an emerging trend and yet scaling to mainstream really quickly,” said Eric Pierce, director of business insights at New Hope Network, during a March 10 presentation at Expo West.
Fizz is sizzling in the beverage category. A spate of new sparkling options recently has bubbled up, offering a sophisticated twist on soda or functional benefits. Debuting from GoodBelly by NextFoods, Boulder, Colo., is a new line of sparkling probiotic beverages, featuring a blend of 20 billion probiotic cultures per bottle. Flavors include apple zinger, berry and lemon ginger.
Avitae USA, L.L.C., Cleveland, is launching a sparkling caffeine water with no calories or artificial ingredients. Made with caffeine derived from green coffee beans, Sparkling Avitae will be available in unflavored, black cherry, raspberry lime, berry kiwi and mandarin passion fruit varieties.
Soul Fizz, Inc., Los Angeles, has introduced Giggle, the beverage category’s first organic low-calorie vitamin-enhanced sparkling line for children. In lemon and orange varieties, the lightly carbonated drinks are sweetened with stevia and erythritol and have less than 15 calories per serving.
Bhakti, Boulder, Colo., is expanding into the carbonated category with a line of sparkling tea in four varieties: lemon ginger black, mango lime matcha, mint mate, and tart cherry rooibos.
Joining the lineup of gourmet sparkling beverages from Dry Soda Co., Seattle, is Fuji apple, made with four simple ingredients, including a touch of cane sugar.
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For the health-conscious carnivore, options abound featuring sustainably sourced specialty meats, including boar, bison and buffalo. New jerky products from Durham Ranch, a family-owned bison ranch in Wyoming, are free of nitrates and phosphates and made with wild game. The brand’s Hunter Sausage Sticks line features varieties like maple cured elk, wild boar and bourbon, venison with garlic and rosemary and ancho chili bison.
Native American Natural Foods, Kyle, S.D., is debuting a new line of buffalo snack products. Developed to fuel active outdoor lifestyles, Tanka Trail mixes combine buffalo meat snacks with fruits, nuts and seeds in a resealable double pouch. Flavors include blueberry almond, mango pepper and coconut almond.
Austin-based Epic Provisions, which was recently acquired by General Mills, is set to launch a line of Wild Game Meat Bars in select Whole Foods regions beginning in April. Products include grass-fed venison with sea salt and pepper, wild-caught salmon with sea salt and pepper, and 100% wild boar and bacon.
Vegetables are cropping up in a variety of snack formats, from freeze-dried beets to vegetable-infused jerky. A new exhibitor at the show, Wild Zora Foods, L.L.C., Fort Collins, Colo., makes meat- and vegetable-based savory snack bars in such varieties as chili beef with kale, apricot and cayenne pepper; Mediterranean lamb with spinach and turmeric; and curry masala turkey with spinach, dates and cardamom.
The latest launches from Lake Success, N.Y.-based Hain Celestial Group’s Terra brand are celery root chips and pickled beets chips, featuring red and golden beets with a hint of dill. Beets star in the form of a freeze-dried snack from Crunchies Natural Food Co., Westlake, Calif., and in a new Beet Chips line from Rhythm Superfoods, Austin, Texas. The latter product features thinly sliced, dehydrated beets in three flavors: original, sea salt and cinnamon with coconut sugar.
Additionally, Dang Foods, L.L.C., Berkeley, Calif., is featuring its new line of Onion Chips, made from crispy, caramelized whole onions.
A summertime staple has become the star of several new products. New DRINKmelon pure watermelon water from the St. Albans, Vt.-based makers of DRINKmaple, is made from 100% domestically sourced watermelons harvested at the peak of ripeness and peeled and juiced prior to undergoing a gentle filtration process. The beverage offers heart-healthy hydration, digestive benefits and aid in muscle recovery, the company said.
Another brand at the show, Wtrmln Wtr, New York, rescues waste-bound watermelons unfit for display in supermarkets to make its lycopene-rich refresher, which contains only raw watermelon and a hint of organic lemon juice. At Expo West, the company debuted a multi-serve option.
Go Raw, San Jose, Calif., unveiled Grow Sprouted Bars, a line of protein bars made with sprouted watermelon seeds. With 12 grams of protein and 230 to 240 calories per serving, flavor varieties include dark chocolate, cinnamon spice, mint chocolate and zesty lemon. Watermelon seeds pack a high concentration of minerals, B vitamins and amino acids, according to the company, which also offers a sprouted watermelon seeds snack sprinkled with Celtic sea salt. Also featured at the show were spiced watermelon pickles from Pickled Pink Foods, Roswell, Ga.
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