Fancy Food Show. There are thousands of food manufacturers, countries, and companies displaying their wares and means. And by my very unofficial count, at least 20% of them are serving up samples of cheese and olives.
2. The top three growth areas in terms of sales are shelf-stable functional beverages (yummo); yogurt and kefir; and energy bars.
3. In 2011, Kosher was the leading new product claim. 446 Kosher products were introduced last year, beating #2, All Natural (267), by a landslide. L'Chayim.
4. Gluten-free is the hottest thing since sliced bread. (Now, if they would only make a good gluten-free sliced bread). Everyone is coming out with gluten-free specialty foods. In fact, a poll by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT), shows that 35% of manufacturers are looking to add the GF label to their lines this year. That's the good news. But what bothers me, as a gluten-free girl of 15 years standing, is that now everybody and their cousin is shouting GLUTEN-FREE to their packaging. Yogurts are trying to milk the gluten-free trend. Potato chips are trying to add to their appeel (sic) by toting GF. And it's a pita that hummus is doing it, too. Because all of these products, for the most part, are gluten-free, anyway.
5. Caffeinated water makes sense. After talking to the lovely people at Avitae, I am fully on board with the idea of having such a beverage on airplanes. Hear me out. The biggest problem during a long-distance flight (aside from a potentially smelly seatmate) is dehydration. Yet, what do people tend to drink (non-alcoholically) during long-distance flights? Coffee and Coke. Both are diuretics. But they do wake you up. So, you arrive at your destination wide-eyed, albeit dehydrated. But caffeinated water can help you arrive both wide-eyed and wet. What's not to like?
6. My favorite story from the Fancy Food Show is the tale of Tanka Bar. The company is owned and run by members of the Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The innovative energy bar meshes tribal ancestral knowledge of the life-giving qualities of native foods with today's quest for healthy "snack" foods. Made with prairie-fed buffalo, cranberries, and no artificial anything (and they are gluten-free, too), Tanka Bar seems the ideal protein product for keeping up endurance on the road. I can't wait to take a pack along on my lengthy train journey through Siberia.
7. You can now buy canned wine and boxed water.
8. The largest olive oil producers in the world are Spain, Italy and Greece. Hopefully, the golden nectar, in particular, can grease the wheels of the sagging Greek economy.
9. Expect to see more products packed with fiber and probiotics.