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[email protected]: Big (investment) deals for Ripple, Memphis Meats | Organic on the rise in EU countries

Tyson invests in lab-grown protein startup Memphis Meats, joining Bill Gates and Richard Branson

Already a backer of vegan startup Beyond Meat, Tyson is expanding its investment portfolio to include lab-grown meat maker Memphis Meats. Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Cargill are already investors in the San Francisco-based company, which is developing beef, chicken and duck meat grown in a lab from animal cells. “We want to work with them (Tyson) to scale,” said CEO and co-founder Uma Valeti. “Cost is the main focus for us.” Read more at Forbes…


Goldman Sachs invests in pea milk startup

The potential of the humble yellow pea just scored alt-milk brand Ripple a $65 million investment, bringing its total funding to $110 million. The new round comes from a mixed bag of investors, including Goldman Sachs, tech-focused Khosla Ventures, food-focused S2G Ventures and Fall Line Capital, which invests in farmland and agricultural technologies. Ripple’s pea protein ingredient, Ripptein, is extracted by a proprietary process that also strips out the funky flavor. Read more at Bloomberg Technology…


Organic farming booms in Bulgaria and Croatia

Organic production in Bulgaria grew 310 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to new data from the European Statistics Agency, and more than 190 percent in Croatia, making them the EU member states with the highest growing organic farming sectors. They also have the largest shares of land being converted to organic. On the other end of the growth chart is Romania, where the total share of farmed area that’s organic actually fell 20 percent between 2012 and 2016. Read more at Balkan Insight…


Ban called for chocolate price promotions in bid to curb obesity

Action on Sugar, a UK nonprofit, is calling for a ban on price promotions for large bags of chocolate known as sharing bags, which can contain nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar. Read more at…


This ‘Shark Tank’ pitch for healthy protein doughnuts landed a $300,000 investment from Barbara Corcoran

The Dough Bar launched in 2015 to bring Instagram-worthy baked doughnuts boosted with wheat, soy and whey protein isolates, to fitness-minded foodies. It’s a direct-to-consumer play—the company ships the donuts plain, and then customers can decorate them with toppings and glaze. Investor Barbara Corcoran offered a $300,000 investment for a 20 percent stake. Read more at CNBC…


9 ways your brand can support the regenerative movement

Eric Pierce New Hope Network

I am delighted that our previous three articles on regenerative agriculture—Regenerative agriculture: The brand opportunity, Food manufacturers, farmers and consumers can change climate for good and Brands are key to regenerative agriculture—have received so much attention. Thank you for connecting with us to learn more, and for reading and sharing this work. From your responses, it’s clear that you are interested in this exciting topic, and you are wondering how consumer brands can engage and support the movement.

We discuss these topics further in a webinar hosted by at 1 p.m. EST Feb. 7. Please register to join the conversation or learn more.

Here is a quick recap:

  • Despite the noble intentions of the Green Revolution, we are beginning to recognize the unintended consequences of our modern agricultural system, including polluted waterways, water shortages, nutrient-depleted soils and topsoil loss.
  • Regenerative agriculture has been identified as a powerful tool to combat these problems while providing a win for all involved, including climate, farmers, retailers, brands and consumers.
  • Changing consumer culture is creating an exciting opportunity. Consumers are more engaged in learning where their food came from, are willing to pay more to support responsible business practices, and are expressing concern about our changing climate.
  • Farmers will benefit from a transition to regenerative agriculture. However, many will hesitate to risk a transition and invest the time and energy to optimize the practices at their farms, and they will struggle to go against the status quo.
  • The best way to motivate farmers is through proven profitability and the existence of premium markets for products grown with regenerative practices.
  • Brands and retailers, with their ability to connect with and engage consumers directly, are in the best position to build the market for regenerative agriculture.
  • It is time to engage consumers in the benefits of regenerative agriculture through our brands.
  • The market is ready, and our brands have an opportunity to lead.

So, what can brands do? Where do you start?

Be curious, ask questions, engage and explore. Learn about regenerative agriculture. A great place to start is the recently published book "Kiss the Ground." Look for opportunities to participate in industry and farmer discussions on the topic. Share what you learn with others.

Explore your supply chain. Do you know your farmers? Have you visited them and seen how your ingredients are grown? Learn about where and how your ingredients are grown. Most natural product manufacturers have visited some or all the farms where their ingredients are sourced. Our research shows that only 16 percent haven’t done so.

Buy directly from farmers. Consumers want to know where their food comes from. But farmers also value knowing who their products are feeding. Consider building a relationship with and buying direct from farmers. A recent New Hope Network survey revealed that 39 percent of natural products manufacturers are buying directly from farmers.

Express your interest in regenerative supply. Speak with your ingredient supplier and talk with your farmers; express your interest in supporting regenerative agricultural practices. Your voice, your actions and your commitments will drive the transition.

Make commitments. When speaking with farmers who are considering a transition, plan on building a partnership. Consider making multi-year contracts that support the transition period for farmers. Seek out ingredient suppliers who offer ingredients grown with regenerative agriculture practices.

Focus innovation on whole, less processed ingredients. Finding ingredients that are grown with regenerative practices and preserved identities is difficult. Focus your innovation efforts on consumer demand for whole, less-processed foods and ingredients. When possible, formulate with foods you can process yourself.

Engage your consumers. Your brand has the power to influence and be a force for positive change. Share your values with your consumers, tell them about your efforts to transition your supply, and share your passions and your story. Don’t wait until the job is done; connect and engage by sharing your story. Changing consumer sentiment and values are creating an opportunity for you to build trust, demonstrate authenticity and differentiate your brand.

Engage in policy change efforts. The growth of the natural and organic products industry is proof that consumers and brands can move the market. Policy, however, can restructure that market or even institutionalize barriers to change. Consider engaging at the state or national level, or with organizations working to change our agricultural policies: Land Core USA, Center for Food Safety or Soil4Climate.

Engage with industry leaders. Get out in front and lead. Engage, support and get to know those who are already doing so: Grow AheadKiss The GroundRegeneration InternationalTerra Genesis InternationalThe Carbon UndergroundGreen America or Climate Collaborative.

It is time for the natural products industry to engage consumers in climate action and regenerative agriculture. The exciting thing is that the market is ready for us to lead. Are you ready to engage?

[email protected]: Kellogg's VC fund makes first 'channel investment' with Cargo | How a vegan cheese company raised $8.7 million

Thinkstock/shironosov talking to driver in car

Cargo raises $5.5M to let Uber drivers sell snacks and essentials nationwide

Eighteen94, the venture investment arm of Kellogg Company, is one investor in the latest funding round for Cargo, a startup that essentially turns Uber and Lyft cars into mobile convenience stores. It’s a service that sends drivers boxes filled with goodies—everything from Advil to phone chargers to snacks—that riders can purchase with their phones. The boxes also contain some free giveaway items that brands pay Cargo to distribute. Drivers earn money every time a passenger makes a purchase. Currently, it's used in about 2,500 cars in New York City, Boston and Chicago. "We see huge potential in the new consumer touchpoint within the passenger economy that Cargo is developing,” said Simon Burton, managing director of eighteen94 capital, in a statement. The fund has also backed Bright Greens and Kuli Kuli. Read more at TechCrunch...


Women in agtech: How Miyoko’s Kitchen CEO deals with male ‘guru’ figures in plant-based food

Miyoko Schinner has raised $8.7 million in three funding rounds. She says there’s no big secret to talking to investors—it’s just about being authentic and telling your story. “I can only speak the truth, tell our story, and if it resonates, it resonates. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” she says. Read more at AgFunder News…


‘Nomva is no more’

A probiotic smoothie company started by one of the founding employees of Suja and a co-founder of Nika Water is no more. Nomva, maker of squeezable pouches of HPP fruit and vegetable puree with added probiotics, got off to a good start with a $3 million series A in 2016 and placement in Sprouts, Target and Whole Foods stores. But a note on the front page of the company’s website this week announces that the “Nomva is no more.” Its Facebook and Instagram accounts have also been removed. “Since we began, we hoped to provide a product that met your high standards for food that fuels an epic life, and that raised the standards of what a food brand could be,” the note says. “When we look back at the last three years, we believe that mission has been accomplished.” Read more at Nomva… 


Kroger’s Simple Truth brand hits $2 billion in sales

Albertsons recently garnered press for announcing that it had reached $1 billion in sales of its private label brand, O Organics. Kroger fired back this week by announcing that its own Simple Truth brand has achieved $2 billion in annual sales. The five-year-old brand, which comprises more than 1,400 SKUs, has become the second-largest brand sold in Kroger stores. Read more at Meat + Poultry…


Battle of the beans: Monsanto faces a fight for soy market

As BASF and DowDuPont prep their own versions of genetically modified soybeans, Monsanto’s dominance of the seed supply is at stake. Then there’s the fact that Monsanto’s line of glyphosate-tolerant seeds have lost effectiveness, and that there’s currently a scandal over crop damage linked to its new Roundup Ready 2 Xtend seeds and their herbicide pairing, dicamba. Read more at Reuters…

Unboxed: 7 new and notable ready-to-drink beverages

Beverages seem ready-made to inspire impulse purchases. Often bought with a grab-and-go meal, ready-to-drink beverages (both refrigerated and shelf-stable) offer just enough innovation and portability, and a relatively low price point, to urge consumers to buy with little thought.

There is impressive creativity brewing within the beverage category. From new ingredients that incorporate normally landfill-bound food waste into tasty juices, to products that help consumers maintain oral health throughout the day, aisles are awash in exciting new SKUs.

Why the surge? Market fragmentation is certainly a chief reason. Whereas old-school soda corporations (cough, Pepsi and Coca-Cola) used to dominate shelf space, smaller brands that prioritize health and natural ingredients have gained important ground in grocery stores—particularly functional beverages that promise improved energy, well-being, nutrition, sleep and more. According to data collected by Nutrition Business Journal, in 2016 beverages made up 65.9 percent of the functional food and beverage market, and in 2017, sales of functional canned and bottled drinks grew 8.8 percent to $6.43 billion. Evidence suggests that the category won’t slow down any time soon. By 2021, NBJ estimates, functional canned and bottled drinks will grow to $8.5 billion. Bottom's up!

Researchers pile on the evidence: Eat your greens (and blues)

Thinkstock/Svetl health benefits of leafy greens

Plant-based and plant-centric diets have been big buzzwords lately, and a string of new research will bolster not only people who’ve followed those trends, but anyone interested in tapping the benefits of plants through even just a few extra servings of them. Here, we explore some of the most interesting recent studies, and their takeaways, that you might want to know about.

Cholesterol-lowering benefits

Swapping plant proteins for animal proteins, for just one or two servings a day, could lead to a small reduction (about 5 percent) in three main cholesterol markers, helping with cardiovascular disease prevention, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests. What’s more: you may be able to boost those health benefits by combining the plant proteins—i.e. soy, nuts and pulses like beans and lentils—with other foods known to lower cholesterol, such as high-fiber oats and plant sterols.

“That may not sound like much, but because people in North America eat very little plant protein, there is a real opportunity here to make some small changes to our diets and realize the health benefits,” said lead author John Sievenpiper with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Keeping the brain young

Researchers showed, again, that mom was right about eating those greens. Turns out it may pay off particularly as you age, according to a recent study in the American Academy of Neurology’s medical journal Neurology. The research team found that people who ate at least one serving of leafy greens a day had a slower rate of decline on memory and thinking tests than people who never or rarely ate these vegetables—with the difference comparable to being 11 years younger in age, according to study author Martha Clare Morris of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.

The study followed nearly 1,000 people with an average age of 81 who did not have dementia. Over 10 years of follow-up, the rate of decline for people who ate the most leafy greens was slower by 0.05 standardized units per year than for those who ate the least. “Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health,” said Morris. “Projections show sharp increases in the percentage of people with dementia as the oldest age groups continue to grow in number, so effective strategies to prevent dementia are critical.”

And then to back up the eat-your-colors advice, another study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry tested the potential of vinegar made from blueberries for improving cognitive function in people affected with Alzheimer’s disease. The theory was that because blueberries are packed with bioactive compounds, and fermentation can boost the bioactivity of some compounds, then a fermented blueberry product might help to stop the breakdown of acetylcholine, a signalling compound found in lower levels in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

The study, conducted in mice, found that the fermented product could restore cognitive function in mice. Further testing is clearly needed, but the researchers say that their study points to the possibility that blueberry vinegar may be a promising food to help treat cognitive decline related to aging.


What to consider as Amazon grows the Whole Foods 365 brand online

John Willkom, Director of CPG, Netrush

To date, the Amazon-Whole Foods Market acquisition has been very successful in generating hype and dominating headlines. It even raised the value of Whole Foods on Wall Street overnight while competitors nosedived. But despite this initial buzz, we haven’t seen significant changes or collaboration between both companies—and many anticipate this changing in 2018.

As this shift happens, a key brand that players in CPG and health categories should be paying attention to is 365, Whole Foods’ “Everyday Value” private label line of consumable products. 365’s expansion out of brick-and-mortar, by way of the Amazon platform, is expected to put pressure on competitors, especially those without a digital playbook.

As the 365 brand develops, brands should keep the following three things in mind.

1. 365 will lead an army of high quality private label products

The degree of separation between private label brands is lessening. This is largely driven by an increase in the manufacturing quality of private label products, which has raised trust in unbranded goods—66 percent of millennials (the largest cohort of shoppers) choose to shop for private label products. 

Like many large retailers with a solid in-house brand (Costco and Kroger, for example), Amazon uses a trail of consumer data to create its own versions of best-selling products. Right now, with its focus on grocery and CPG products, 365 is the second-best-selling private label brand on the Amazon marketplace behind AmazonBasics. Eventually, Amazon may only sell its white label products directly, leaving establishment brands to sell through the marketplace.

2. Competition will get stronger

Consumable goods are very easy to replicate. Creating a cookie, for example, is a relatively straightforward process that takes a matter of weeks. The barriers to launching a private label product are remarkably low. A brand’s most useful line of defense in this situation is having a great story that drives loyalty; without a story, there will need to be something exceptional or unique to separate a product from a private-label clone.

Another way to outshine private label brands, albeit a difficult one, is through quality and innovation. Soylent stands out as an innovative brand, having produced and released new versions of their product frequently, and in some cases, in just over a month. The changes to their product were in response to customer feedback, science and research.

Here's a  look at the Soylent product versions over time:

  • Early 2014—Soylent 1: First full version. Ingredients were finalized in January 2014, which use rice as the protein source and shipments began in April (vegan) and May (regular) of 2014.
  • Oct. 2, 2014—Soylent 1.1: The sucralose was decreased, giving it a more neutral flavor, and new digestive enzymes were added.
  • Nov. 10, 2014—Soylent 1.2: Omega-3 fatty acid from fish sources was replaced with omega-3 from algae, making the drink suitable for vegans and the enzymes added in Soylent 1.1 were removed.
  • Dec. 11, 2014—Soylent 1.3: Dipotassium phosphate was added and shipping box sizes were reduced.
  • Feb. 25, 2015—Soylent 1.4: Fats were incorporated into the powder that eliminated the need for the oil bottles, resulting in less packaging required in the shipping boxes. It used a carb/fat/protein calorie ratio of 43/40/17, isomaltulose was added and gum acacia was removed.
  • June 1, 2015—Soylent 1.5: Improvements to texture from a reduction to oat flour and an addition of emulsifiers. Removal of powdered safflower and flaxseed oil which were both replaced by canola oil powder, supplementing the existing powdered high oleic sunflower oil and algal oil.
  • June 23, 2016—Soylent 1.6: Uses whole algal flour, high oleic algal oil and soy protein isolate that replaces brown rice protein. 45 percent lipids, 20 percent protein and 35 percent low-glycemic carbohydrates, closer to Soylent 2.0 macronutrients. (Discontinued in October 2016 after reports of gastrointestinal problems.)
  • Dec. 15, 2016—Soylent 1.7: Reformulated to have a more neutral flavor profile and it removes algal flour in favor of more algal oil.
  • March 13, 2017—Soylent 1.8: The fiber source shifts from isomaltooligosaccharide to soluble corn fiber. Replaces all algal ingredients with high oleic canola creamer. Usage of gums is halved. Serving size is same while weight per serving increased.
  • Jan. 9, 2018—Soylent 1.9: With the 2020-required Reference Daily Intake guidelines, the potassium and fiber has increased per serving; all vitamin and mineral content has been increased or decreased to follow the revised guidelines. Cacao Powder version 1.9 is the first flavored powder product from the company.

Following a similar strategy, Amazon launched a private-label fashion brand called The Fix with the intention of releasing new styles monthly, based on consumer demand. The supply chain implications of such rapid changes can be daunting for both small and large brands. And if Amazon is able to implement similar rapid feedback-based changes to 365, and if Amazon injects products into both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, CPG brands will need to differentiate themselves more than ever.

3. Put customers first

Amazon collects massive amounts of data on sales trends and customer archetypes. With this information, they are able to constantly stay on top of what products shoppers are looking for, and pair their offerings with attractive delivery options. Applying this strategy to 365, Amazon has upped the customer experience by making grocery products available via Prime Now and Prime Pantry, nearly instantly, at a low price.

When plotting out your go-to market strategy, put customers at the front end of your process. Think about how, when and why people buy products like yours. Think about Amazon, social media, and all forms of retail, and identify where your products fit into these buckets.

The traditional sales funnel—awareness, consideration, conversion—has evolved. Brands should take a realistic look at how their customers search, review and purchase their products, and place their investments where there is true value. This extends far beyond websites and offerings: Brands should be thinking about how the supply chain (2-hour delivery, free returns, free delivery, seamless ordering) can be a competitive advantage.

To compete in the near and distant future, brands must be willing to offer their customers one of three things: a product with a story they can believe in; a product with a unique selling point that nobody else can deliver; or a convenient experience that adds value to their lives.

John Willkom is the director of CPG at NetRush, which provides supply chain capabilities and creative services to increase brands' presence and sales on the Amazon marketplace.

[email protected]: Competition heats up in dairy alternatives | Investors haven't given up on meal kits

Thinkstock/AlexPro9500 milk alternatives nondairy fresh

Cows vs. nuts: Who gets to be called milk, and are they climate friendly?

We know about the dairy industry’s attacks on plant-based alternatives, which are eating into its market share. But now, even among those alternatives, competition is ramping up, and to get ahead, some brands are leveraging an environmental angle. One of those is Milkadamia, a brand that’s set to appear in coolers in Walmart stores this month. It’s positioning itself as a more climate-friendly alternative to milk, and one that uses regenerative and holistic farming techniques. Pea protein maker Ripple also touts a smaller environmental footprint and has funded research on greenhouse gas emissions associated with different kinds of dairy alternatives. Read more at Inside Climate News…


Vegan jerky! Cashew cheese! Plant-based foods are big at the Fancy Food Show

In addition to trends like banana snacks and Middle Eastern cuisine, plant-based offerings were abundant at the Winter Fancy Food Show this week. New products included a plant-based butter made from aquafaba and vegan jerky make with textured vegetable protein. Read more at San Francisco Chronicle…


Organic meal kits draw investors despite Blue Apron’s troubles

Sun Basket, which is already backed by Unilever, has raised $57.8 million from Silicon Valley firm August Capital. The meal kit maker says it saw revenue nearly quadruple in 2017 but is not yet profitable. Meal kits are a tough business rife with operational challenges, high marketing costs and low customer retention, but they’re still drawing attention in the changing world of grocery. Read more at Bloomberg Technology…


Increasingly complex retail and foodservice marketplace opens opportunities for seafood

U.S. per capita consumption of seafood has been stagnant for nearly two decades, but given shifting consumer preferences, that could change. The NPD Group says restaurants and foodservice could be a big opportunity for seafood, as consumers increase their spending on food away from home and show a willingness to spend more on premium products. Read more at Seafood Source…


Tesco responds to demand, launches robust vegan initiative

British grocer Tesco—one of the largest retailers in the world—has dropped a new line of vegan products with help from Whole Foods Market’s former senior global executive chef, Derek Sarno. Wicked Kitchen encompasses ready-to-eat meals, sandwiches and wraps, and salads. Read more at Forbes…

Natural Products Expo

Meet our 2018 Natural Products Expo West Pitch-Slam judging panel

Our 2018 Pitch-Slam competition focuses on early-stage innovation and mission-forward companies promoting business as a force for good. At Natural Products Expo West 2018, our influential panel of five judges brings years of expertise, fresh perspective and diverse backgrounds to evaluate each team and select our 2018 Pitch-Slam winner. At the Pitch-Slam Semi-Finals and Finals Competition at Expo West 2018, these judges will help guide eight lucky brands to hone in on the most important elements of their story and build the perfect pitch.

The best part? There is still time to be a finalist! Until Jan. 26, you can apply to tell your story to these amazing judges at Expo West—and win a prize package that includes a suite of services from New Hope Network plus a free booth at Natural Products Expo West 2019. Apply here

Expo West Pitch-Slam Semi-Finals Competition 
Marriott, Marquis Ballroom North
5-6 p.m., March 7 (following the Natural Products Business School)

Expo West Pitch-Slam Finals Competition & Party 
Marriott, Grand Ballroom F
4:30-6:30 p.m., March 8

Millennials spending more money eating out, less time preparing food at home

Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages millennials sharing a meal

The USDA’s Economic Research Service has released a report that details some of the grocery purchasing habits of different generations, with a close-up look at the kinds of purchases millennials tend to make. A lot of the report is not surprising, but there are a few interesting findings worth noting.

The clear, overarching trend with millennials is that spending on groceries is down, and spending on food outside the home is up. Even so, there are some grocery categories that seem to present opportunity among millennial consumers—these are categories where millennials spend at least as much, or more, of a percentage of their food spending as traditionalists (the generation born before 1946) do.

Analyzing IRI data from 2014 and demographic data, researchers found that millennials spent more of their grocery budgets than other generations on fish, eggs, and nuts but less on white and red meat (and the percentage of food spending on meat declined progressively with each younger generation.) Average proportion of spending on prepared foods was 7.5 percent for millennials, versus 6.6 percent for traditionalists. Millennials also spent more of their grocery budgets than other generations on pasta and sweets, but less on grains.

“Millennials allocate the highest budget shares to prepared foods, sugar and sweets, and pasta but the least to grains. The first three categories all require minimal preparation for consumption,” the authors explain. “Note the slight negative relationship between per capita income and prepared food purchases for the three oldest generations, which is absent in the millennials trend.”

Convenience is the clear takeaway: 62 percent of millennials reported purchasing prepared deli food, carry-out, delivery or fast food within the last seven days, while only 47 percent of traditionalists and 56 percent of Gen X-ers did so. The importance of convenience carries through to cleanup, with millennials spending the least amount of time per week (55 minutes less than Gen X-ers) on food preparation, presentation and cleanup. Interestingly, the researchers found the same pattern across income levels, suggesting that “millennial preferences for convenience may be a principal characteristic of the generation.”

Worth noting is that all is not lost for food eaten in the home. Fewer millennials buy food to eat at home, but the percentage of people eating at someone else’s home is greater than older generations. That may mean there’s opportunity to market food for entertaining purposes and appeal to millennials who may be hosting other millennials in their homes. ­­­­

There also seems to be a continued shift toward healthy eating, with an “an increasing appetite for fruits and vegetables as income rises and [millennials] allocate less to animal proteins”—although millennials also spend more of their food budgets on sugar and sweets as they become wealthier.


Top food trends from the Winter Fancy Food Show 2018

Fancy Food Show Promo Image Final

What makes a food trend?

Is it when three or more similar new products from different companies debut at a trade show? Is it about booths that seems to garner the most excitement from attendees? Is it when a product seems to perfectly embody not only the values of its core consumers but also ideas lingering on the edge of popularity? Yes to all. Here, find eight food trends distilled from the Winter Fancy Food Show 2018, complete with savory, sweet and oh-so-awesome product examples.

Your mom may have warned you about eating raw cookie dough, but these brands give you the A-OK with cleaned-up, egg-free formulations. Birthday cake-flavored cookie dough? Sounds decadent—and it is. But single-serve packages allow consumers to indulge without feeling too bad about it afterwards. It's also delicious when spooned over ice cream.

Product examples:
Edoughble Birthday Bash Ready-To-Eat Cookie Dough
The Cookie Dough Cafe Gourmet Edible Cookie Dough
Because Cookie Dough Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Snack

The lazy-Sunday breakfast staple was a popular item at the show, appearing in formats ranging from sweet snacks (waffle chips, anyone?) to a mini protein-packed waffle sandwich encasing sausage and eggs, to classic stroopwaffles. We’re not sure why the crosshatched hot cake was spotted more than its flatter cousin, the flapjack. One theory: Greater surface area allows for more contact with taste buds, making a more delicious nosh.

Product examples:
Start Right Waffle Sliders Turkey Sausage & Egg White
Belgian Boys Waffle Chips
Daelmans Mini StroopWafels Caramel

Americans can finally expand their knowledge of Middle Eastern cuisine beyond hummus. Both new and existing brands exhibiting at the Fancy Food Show launched products that celebrate the ingredients and cooking techniques from countries in and around the Middle East. For instance, we learned about kuku from new brand Oyna Foods. Kuku is a savory, veggie-based Iranian dish held together with a small amount of eggs and garbanzo bean flour. We sampled high-quality tahini paste from forward-thinking small brands such as Obour Foods, which blends tahini with date syrup and pomegranates for a sweet take.

Product examples:
Tarazi Falafel Mix
Oyna Natural Foods Green Beans Kuku Baked Veggie Square
Mediterranean Organic Kalamata Pitted Olives With A Hint Of Cumin

These experiential products, often crafted from nutritious ingredients such as beans, nuts, cassava or corn, are a compelling way to add interest to the snack category. Puffs are a particularly fun way to get a pop of flavor due to their melt-in-your mouth texture. Many puffs featured at the show were coated in cheese and spice.

Product examples:
Rasoi Boondi
Rooted Popped Lotus Seeds
Puffworks Original Peanut Butter Puffs

Make like a banana and split! While fried banana chips have been available in the bulk section of retail stores for years (maybe decades?) it’s rare that we’ve seen any brands launching new banana products in packaged food. At the show, banana appeared in dairy-free frozen desserts and snacks. Sure, they’re still banana chips. But now they’re dusted with exciting spices, fried in better-for-you oils (without trans fat) and made into nuanced grain-free potato chip swaps.

Product examples:
Hakuna Banana Choco Choco Chip
Bubba’s Fine Foods Blazing Buffalo ‘Nana Chips
Hungry Elephant Nana Chips

Tea (including Camellia sinensis and the blended herbal variety, tisanes) continues to permeate foods across categories. Verdant matcha tea was a popular choice, tinting quark and kombucha bright green. One brand even incorporated the fermented bubbly tea into an interesting probiotic bar to add tangy flavor and interest.

Product examples:
Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Hong Kong Milk Tea
Vegan Bob’s Kombuchabar
Wunder Creamery Grass-Fed Quark Green Tea Matcha

Once upon a time, jerky was available only in convenience stores as a stick made with meat from dubious origins and packed with preservatives such as nitrates and loads of salt. Now, jerky is a popular category that has taken over the snack aisle. Given that most jerky brands prioritize high-quality meats (usually antibiotic free and often grass fed), low sugar and minimal sodium, jerky can be a healthy snack. Brands at the Fancy Food Show innovated with air-drying techniques for a softer bite, thinly slicing the meat for a chip-like texture and more.

Product examples:
Field Trip Crispy Cuts Pork Rinds Island BBQ Recipe
Bovino Crispy Beef Jerky made with 100% Grass-Fed Beef
Stryve Protein Snacks Gourmet Beef Biltong Peri-Peri

Ideal for retailers who don’t have large kitchens to prep grab-and-go items, these ready-to-eat fresh salads and bowls feature convenient, lunch-perfect ingredients like marinated tofu, cauliflower rice, salads and even a chic meat-and-cheese-and-cracker lunch. Kind of similar to Lunchables, but for adults.

Product examples:
Kitchen & Love Cauliflower Quick Meal Indian Vegetable Curry
Haig’s Delicacies Mix & Serve Taboule Salad
Olli Salumeria Snack Pack Genoa