Fancy Food Show Spotlights Plant-Based Ingredients
In keeping with the mention at a buyer panel by Robin McNamara, of Roche Bros. Supermarkets, of plant-based food items as an emerging trend, the Summer Fancy Food Show floor was blooming with plant-based products of nearly every description, ranging from snacks to pastas and meat alternatives – giving vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians alike more choices, as well as providing tasty options for those interested in the health benefits of plant-based fare.
The Flowering of Cauliflower
One particular standout ingredient was cauliflower, once a humble vegetable minding its own business as a somewhat bland side dish, but now a plant-based powerhouse that promises great nutrition as well as fewer carbs. Among the cauliflower-based products on display at the Fancy Food Show were Caulipower, founded by the mom of two sons with celiac disease, which offers naturally gluten-free frozen pizzas and pizza crusts, as well as baking mixes; Outer Aisle Gourmet, which makes refrigerated Sandwich Thins and Pizza Crusts with fresh cauliflower and cage-free eggs; Halen Brands’ From the Ground Up, a line of snack crackers and pretzels that were suitably crispy while retaining cauliflower’s distinctive flavor; Kitchen & Love’s Cauliflower Quick Meals in spicy Peruvian Vegetable Ceviche, Moroccan Vegetable Harissa and Indian Vegetable Curry varieties; and Gaea’s Cauliflower Veggie Snack pack variety marinated in virgin olive oil and lemon.
Chickpea and Coconut
Chickpea also made a strong showing at the specialty food event, including indulgent flavors of crunchy snacks from Biena (A Girl Scouts-inspired Thin Mints variety), Saffron Road (Salted Caramel) and Lebby (Mocha), with all three also offering chocolate-covered varieties; pastas from Chickapea (maker of the only organic pulse-based mac & cheese on the market) and Explore Cuisine; The Amazing Chickpea spread; San Gennaro Foods’ chickpea polenta; and chickpea flour from Pereg Gourmet.
Coconut proved to be not only a popular flavor choice for a variety of cookies, bars and other confections, as well as the chief ingredient of macaroons like Koukla Delights, but also the base of such products as The Coconut Collaborative and Coyo yogurt alternatives; Petit Pot’s Riz Au Lait Coco; Chosen Foods’ Coconut Oil Spray; Nature’s Charm Coconut Condensed Milk, Evaporated Milk and Whipping Cream; and Leaner Creamer, made with coconut oil, not to mention a wide of coconut waters.
Naturally, the rising interest in plant-based foods gave nut butters – not just classic peanut butters, but also almond, cashew and others – and they were accordingly out in force at the Fancy Food Show. Interesting products of this sort included Argania Almond Butter featuring Moroccan argan oil to impart a smoother texture and more intense flavor, as well as additional nutrition; Noosh squeezable almond butter packs containing MCT oil providing heart health, obesity prevention and brain health benefits as well as a silky mouthfeel; Spread Delights’ single-serve Almond and Chocolate Hazelnut spreads in on-the-go stick packaging; and BNutty’s gourmet peanut butter flavors, among them Joyful Cranberries and S’More Dreams.
An interesting offshoot of this type of offering were products combining nut butters and jelly, as was the case with Bonnie’s Jams’ Nut Butter & Fruit Snacks pairing almond butter with its popular Black & Blue (berries), Strawberry Rhubarb, and Apricot Orange jams and preserves, and with Sprelly, which devised separately jarred gourmet nut butter spreads and jellies meant to be eaten together.
Other emerging plant-based ingredients noted at the show included moringa, a.k.a. the “miracle tree,” a superfood featured in teas, powders and smoothie mixes, and tart cherries, whose “highest antioxidant strength” was available in Cheribundi and Cherrish juices.
Additional plant-based products of interest were Bohana Popped Water Lily Seeds in three varieties; Chosen Foods Vegan Mayo, made with avocado oil; Caskai Sparkling Cascara infusion, derived from the dried husk of the coffee bean; Crunch-a-Mame Organic Edamame Puffs, made from soybeans; Elmhurst Milked Peanuts (touted as the first peanut "milk"); O.Vine wine-grape-infused water; Pan’s Mushroom Jerky in four flavors; P-Nuff Crunch Baked Peanut Puffs in three kid-friendly SKUs; Rind “skin-on superfruit” dried-fruit snacks in 1.5-ounce single-serve and 3-ounce resealable pouches; Siete Grain-Free Tortillas and Tortilla Chips, made from various plant and nut flours (including chickpea); and WellNY vegetable-based mozzarella (coming soon).