Natural Foods Merchandiser

Kids and ethnic convenience foods spice up Expo

Free gelato! Bowls of chips at every turn! Smiling ladies handing you spoonfuls of cookie dough! And the occasional Greek warrior scooting by on a Segway with a shield and quiver of Oikos yogurt. Feel like a kid in a candy store at Natural Products ExpoWest?

This year you might just want to embrace that inner child–and give them an order sheet. Kids’ snacks are one of the trends to note at this year’s show. "Even in tougher economic climates, families continually look for new snacks that are not only convenient and fun, but delicious and better for you,” says Jeff Canner, vice president of marketing at Ian’s Naturals, manufacturers of sweet and savory snacks for kids. Smaller sized bars and nourishing nuggets might seem Liliputian to you as you peruse the aisles, but keep in mind the mouths and taste buds of smaller snackers–and those who buy for them.

More and more easy ethnic foods will be calling for your attention this year at a time when consumers’ travel may be limited to their microwave. The combination of prepared-food convenience, delicacy of exotic flavors, and often-perceived nutritional value of Asian and Indian varieties has been making them great sellers.

Whether you’re on the hunt for the ultimate frozen eggroll or the most irresistible fruit roll-up, don’t forget to ask “Why?” says Suzy Badaracco who predicts trends for her company Culinary Tides. A toxicologist and former crime scene investigator, Badaracco, who is also a chef and dietician has switched her focus from “serial killers to cereal bars,” employing her predictive analysis techniques to profile food trends. As you chew on a sample of the latest and greatest food, “Ask the representative why you should buy it,” says Badaracco. “Do they have research? Claims to unique flavors? Does the product tie into any other trends in food or culture? If they just give you a blank stare, move on.”

For flavor – and idea – sampling, head to the Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Retailer Idea Exchange from 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. on Thursday is always ripe with suggestions and inspiration.

Learn the latest in the critical struggle for food safety at “GMO’s Getting ‘M’ Out of our Food” on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

To help understand why we – and our customers – eat the way we do, don’t miss the “Psychology of Eating: Mind Body Nutrition,” from 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. on Saturday.

Related articles:

Move over Goldfish – natural kids’ snacks are in the house.
Get schooled on the latest healthy treats for little noshers.

Merchandising the organic lunchbox.
How to entice parents to fill their shopping baskets with stuff for kids’ lunchboxes – things kids won’t want to trade for cheez doodles.

Spice up sales with the latest Indian offerings.
“Slumdog Millionaire’s” not the only Indian favorite this year.

Demystifying Japanese Cuisine.
Zen and the art of customer comfort maintenance: getting familiar with Japenese food.

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