Monday, June 26, 2017

Chickpeas and Lentils at the 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo

I attended the Sweets & Snacks Expo (aka, The Candy Show) which was held May 23-25 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The trade show organized by the National Confectioners Association hosted over 800 exhibitors representing candy, chocolate, and snacks companies. In this article, I will talk about chickpeas and lentils (pulses) in the snack aisle. I previously wrote about the “Coffee Meets Chocolate” trend at the show.

If year 2016 was the International Year of Pulses as proclaimed by the United Nations, could 2017 turn out to be the year of pulse-based snacks? Numerous exhibitors spotlighted the use of chickpeas, lentils, dry beans, and other pulsesin snacks to promote themselves as healthier options to traditional chips. Using pulses allows snack companies to offer the nutritional benefits of being high in protein and fiber while being naturally gluten-free.

Chickpeas, best known for its use in hummus, are likely to be the biggest star among pulses in snacks. Green Park Brands, the makers of HIPPEAS organic chickpea puffs, announced on May 23 that Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Strand Equity Partners were new investors in the company. HIPPEAS are certified gluten-free, kosher, vegan, and USDA certified organic. HIPPEAS are aimed at health and socially conscious millennials with bright packaging, the call-outs of 3g of fiber and 4g of protein per 1oz serving, and its partnership with Farm Africa, where a portion of proceeds go to supporting chickpea farmers in eastern Africa economically. HIPPEAS also made an appearance at the 2017 National Restaurant Association Show as shown in the photo above.

Numerous other companies featured chickpeas, best known in the U.S. for its use in hummus. Rare Fare Foods, offered Off the Eaten Path Hummus Crisps made with chickpeas and rice flour. GLK Foods introduced GoBitos, a line of seasoned roasted chickpeas, as a high fiber, high protein, “satisfying meal replacement”. Saffron Road’s Saffron Road ChickBean Crisps offered 5g of protein per 1oz serving in addition to being certified gluten-free and Halal. The Saffron Road ChickBean Crisps are made with chickpeas, lentils, yellow and green split peas, and rice and sweet potato flours.

In addition to chickpeas, lentils were another popular pulse at the show. Enjoy Life Foods, a division of Mondelez International, offered its Plentils lentil chips that are marketed as having 40% less fat than the leading potato chip, certified gluten-free, free of the eight major food allergens, and vegan. By combining lentils with high-protein edamame (immature soybeans), Harvested For You Baked Multi-Grain Chips by Hello! Delicious Brands offers 4g of protein per 1oz serving. The package for Daily Crave Spicy Sriracha Lentil Crisps from Natural Intentions, Inc touts its 3g of protein, vegan, kosher, and non GMO among its features. 

Coffee Meets Chocolate at the 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo

I attended the Sweets & Snacks Expo (aka, The Candy Show) which was held May 23-25 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The trade show organized by the National Confectioners Association hosted over 800 exhibitors representing candy, chocolate, and snacks companies. In this article, I will talk about the "coffee meets chocolate" trend while other articles will highlight other trends in snacking that I saw at the show – chickpeas and lentils in the snack aisle; spicy and fruity notes; meat snacks offer breakfast, gourmet, and kosher options: and popcorn appeals to both health and indulgence seekers.

Combining coffee with chocolate is not a new practice as chocolate covered espresso beans have been around for a long time. Woodstock Foods offered Organic Dark Chocolate Coffee Beans at the show. However, I saw many more confectionery items using coffee as an ingredient at this year’s show than previous shows as chocolate makers seek to capitalize on the growing interest in drinking specialty coffee, especially among millennials. One new launch is Wild Ophelia Cold Brew Chocolate Bites from Vosges Ltd. that features cold brew coffee and chocolate fudge centers covered with solid chocolate. Vosges highlighted the growing awareness and popularity of cold brew coffee in its sell sheet by citing research firm Mintel’s data that estimated cold brew coffee sales grew by 338.9% from 2010-2015. Cold brew coffee sales have skyrocketed in the U.S. because it offers a smoother, less acidic coffee through the process of steeping ground coffee in water for about 12-18 hours without using heat.

In addition to a love of cold brew coffee, many millennial consumers have an interest in products made in a sustainable manner that supports farmers and the community. Wild Ophelia’s Cold Brew Chocolate Bites are Fair Trade certified, and a portion of the proceeds go to supporting female food entrepreneurs. Amore di Mona uses fair trade and organic ingredients including Dutch cocoa butter, Madhava agave nectar, and La Semeuse coffee beans in its Chocolate With Crunchy Coffee Beans that is also gluten, soy & nut free. 

These coffee-filled products offer a quick burst of caffeinated energy for on-the-go consumers in a portable format. CoffeeSnacks, Inc touts its Java Me Up! Coffee Bars as “Coffee That Never Spills”. Its Java Me Up! Café Mocha Coffee Bar is a caffeinated energy bar with 35 mg of caffeine, 6g of protein, and 5g of fiber and is made with organic, shade-grown, direct trade coffee; dark chocolate; rolled oats; almonds; sunflower seeds; flaxseed; and chicory root fiber. Awake Chocolate says that one Awake Caffeinated Chocolate Bar contains 100mg of caffeine, equivalent to a cup of coffee. An even higher caffeine content is claimed by the GET UP and GO Energy Shot Cookie from Get Up and Go Ventures that is aimed at energy shot drinkers with 180mg of caffeine in a 3oz cookie (two servings in each cookie) to “Knock Out the 3pm Slump”.

In terms of portability, the smallest caffeinated item at the show was Coffee Thins in a 0.35oz package from Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa. The Coffee Thins look like little chocolate squares and are made with 100% arabica coffee beans and cocoa butter. The company’s licensed Krispy Kreme Coffee Thins “Your On-The-Go Coffee Snack” were created to taste like the coffee from the popular doughnut shop chain. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Top Non-Alcoholic Drinks Trends Seen at the 2017 National Restaurant Association Show

The National Restaurant Association Show hosted its 98th annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel  Show and Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants (BAR) at NRA Show from May 20–23, 2017 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. In this article, I will highlight noteworthy trends in non-alcoholic drinks that I saw at the show. I previously wrote about alcoholic drinks trends and food trends seen at the NRA Show.

1. Cold Brew Coffee Is Hot

Cold brew coffee is one of the fastest growing segments in U.S. beverages in retail and foodservice channels. Retail sales of ready-to-drink (RTD) cold brew coffee grew by 580% from 2011-2016 while cold brew menu penetration grew by +300% from 2014-2016 according to data presented by John Buckner of S&D Coffee & Tea. In his “Cold Brew Coffee: Why Is Hot?” presentation, Buckner told the NRA Show audience that cold brew coffee offers an opportunity for foodservice operators to grow beverage sales, reach millennials, and charge more on a per cup basis than traditional iced coffee by offering a premium, smooth tasting product.S&D Coffee & Tea offered multiple cold brew coffee variants including black, flavored, nitro, and soft serve ice cream at its booth. 

There was no shortage of cold brew coffee at the show as numerous exhibitors offered up bean bags, liquid concentrate, kegged, and RTD versions. Tradecraft Outfitters  hosted a mobile pop-up that featured Metropolis, Stumptown, and Stumptown nitro cold brew coffees on tap as well as a stand offering  RTD cold brew coffees from La Colombe, Limitless, Metropolis, Passion House Coffee Roasters, Stumptown, and Zingerman’s.  Califia Farms and High Brew Coffee showed their RTD cold brew coffees while BUNN showcased their Nitron Cold Draft Dispenser that uses one gallon concentrate BIBs (beverage-in-boxes) or caddy packs instead of kegs. Royal Cup Coffee and Tea offered personalized coffee by allowing visitors to create “Nitro Art” with the Ripple Maker that prints image or text onto coffee foam. The company offered two nitro cold brew options: Royal Cup French Roast Cold Brew Coffee and HC Valentine Aztec Organic Cold Brew.

2. Rising Interest in Gourmet and Specialty Coffees

Not only are millennials driving growth in cold brew coffee, they are also driving growth in gourmet and specialty coffees. Millennial coffee drinkers are highly interested in handcrafted beverages, unusual flavor combinations, and learning the stories behind the coffee growers and roasters. I had a chance to speak to Lavazza North America’s CEO and EVP, Davide Riboni at the show. Riboni discussed how American consumers are looking for a higher quality product and increasing their consumption of espresso-based beverages (EBBs) such as cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos, especially away from home. He said that EBBs have about 20% market penetration in the US and thinks it can get to 50% penetration. In addition to competition from espresso, drip filter coffee is decreasing in popularity in the U.S. because of the convenience offered by single-serve pods from Keurig and Nespresso.

To appeal to consumers looking for gourmet coffees and help its hotel and restaurant customers grow their coffee business, Lavazza is providing more single-origin coffees that offer storytelling potential. At the show, the company showcased its new Lavazza KAFA Forest Coffee from Ethiopia as well as relaunching the !Tierra! Single Origins line of Rainforest Alliance, sustainably produced coffees from Brazil and Tanzania. KAFA offers uniqueness due to its limited production and geographic origin as arabica coffee is thought to have originated in this region. Unesco has acknowledged Kafa as a “biosphere reserve”. To emphasize the luxury aspect of Lavazza KAFA, the company offered workshops that served KAFA in three different ways including a pour over with cinnamon and ginger (and served with a side dish of popcorn as done in Ethiopian coffee ceremonies) and as a coffee mocktail with cold brew coffee and Monin cherry syrup to bring out the cherry notes in the coffee.

Lavazza was not the only coffee company at the show emphasizing the origin of its coffees. Coffee Planet’s booth signage stated that the company “was born in Arabia where Arabica coffee was first roasted over 500 years ago”. The company was started in the United Arab Emirates in 2005, signed partnerships to serve its coffee in highway convenience stores, expanded into hotels and supermarkets,  and developed a franchised café concept in the UAE before expanding into other international markets. Coffee Planet now wants to expand into the US foodservice market.

3. Healthier Sodas and Soda Alternatives

Volume sales of carbonated soft drinks have been declining in recent years as health conscious consumers seek to reduce consumption of sugar and artificial sweeteners. To retain consumers, soft drinks companies are turning to new product launches and acquisitions to offer “healthier” sodas and soda alternatives that provide flavor and bubbles minus the high fructose corn syrup. The Coca-Cola Company introduced the Barrilitos Aguas Frescas line of fountain drinks that contains 50-60 calories per 8oz serving. Modeled after Mexican aguas frescas, the Barrilitos Aguas Frescas in Horchata and Tamarind varieties are flavored with fruit juices, purees and/or spices. PepsiCo sampled its line of Stubborn Soda that was launched in select foodservice channels in a fountain format in 2015. Stubborn Soda contains 90-100 calories per 12oz serving and is made with Fair Trade certified cane sugar and stevia. After completing its purchase of Bai Brands LLC in January 2017, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. showcased Bai’s 5-calorie drinks (per 11.5oz serving) including Bai Bubbles that are sweetened with erythritol and stevia leaf extract). Tractor Soda Co offered Tractor Organic Crafted Soda that is USDA-certified organic and made with organic raw cane sugar, organic fruits, herbs, and spices. Another organic soda offering is Brooklyn Organics Craft Ginger Ale that contains 5-10 calories per 8.4 oz serving that is sweetened with organic stevia leaf extract.

4. Iced Teas Aim to Attract Health Conscious

Tea companies are aiming to pull away consumers from soft drinks by emphasizing its refreshing and healthy properties. Tiesta Tea has been selling loose leaf tea blends in retail channels.  At the show, Tiesta Tea noted how “tea attracts millennials” and that its loose-leaf tea blends offer functionality such as slenderizing (Lean Green Machine Light Citrus Green Tea) and age defying (Blueberry Wild Child Blueberry Hibiscus Fruit Tea). Rishi Tea launched its Craft Brew Sparkling Tea & Botanicals line of sparkling tea and botanicals in one-way recyclable PET kegs. Rishi Craft Brew was created to offer the energy boost of cold brew coffee and the health benefits of kombucha in a product that contains no added sugar or preservatives. The Runner’s High Sparkling Tea contains yerba mate and green tea for the uplift and organic schizandra berries, an adaptogenic herb to restore the body.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Alcoholic Drinks Trends Seen at the 2017 National Restaurant Association Show

The National Restaurant Association Show hosted its 98th annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants (BAR) at NRA Show from May 20–23, 2017 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. In this article, I will highlight noteworthy trends in alcoholic drinks that I saw at the show. A separate article on non-alcoholic drinks trends will be published at a later time.

1. Alcoholic Drinks Get Technology Infusion

Bars and restaurants experience many “pain points” according to many beverage technology exhibitors at the NRA Show and the BAR Pavilion. A major pain point is speed of service – consumers want their cocktails and jello shots immediately. One possible solution to wait times is having consumers serve their own cocktails. DraftServ Technologies in partnership with Micro Matic and RIPE Bar Juice created a Cold Pressed Craft Margaritas Self-Serve Machine where a patron uses a DraftServ card (after age verification) to pour a cocktail. The Micro Matic machine holds a bag-in-box of cold-pressed HPP (high pressure processing) mixer and the spirit such as tequila and combines it for the patron. DraftServ also offers advanced consumer analytics by allowing owners and managers to review what pours best, at what time, and by demographic segments.

For high-volume bars serving jello shots, they have had to wait several hours for the gelatin shots to “set” in the refrigerator as well as messes created by mixing gelatin mix with liquor. The makers of Jevo The Automated Gelatin Shot Maker claim that bartenders can make up to 300 gelatin shots an hour by using the Ready-To-Eat mode that takes 15 minutes or the Quick Prep mode that takes 2.5 minutes before finishing in the refrigerator. Billed as the Keurig of gelatin shots, the Jevo is a machine that uses proprietary flavor pods and any liquor. The flavor pods are produced by Jel Sert, makers of Royal gelatin dessert mixes and Fla-Vor-Ice Freezer Pops. Jevo has partnered with alcoholic drinks producer Beam Suntory, makers of Pinnacle vodka, Cruzan rum, and Jim Beam Kentucky Fire. Jevo tracks usage of the flavor pods and can automatically place a replenishment order through Wi-Fi.

Another pain point for bars is watered down drinks as ice melts. It was previously thought that liquor could not be frozen. To maintain the taste of “on the rocks” drinks from first sip to last sip, Beyond Zero was developed to be able to freeze liquor into ice cubes. Patrons no longer have to worry about the dilution factor as frozen liquor melts into liquid liquor.

2. Kombucha and Tea as Cocktail Mixers

Kombucha and tea have traditionally been viewed as healthy beverages with antioxidants and less sugar than soda. But kombucha and tea have not been seen as cocktail mixers. Bartenders and drinkers are turning to a wider range of mixers as they go beyond tonic water to include bolder flavors such as ginger beer. In turn, makers of kombucha and tea see an opening in the cocktail space.

Health-Ade Kombucha, Pure Steeps (Wonder Drink), and Owl’s Brew exhibited at the BAR Pavilion to market themselves as cocktail mixers to bar and restaurant operators. At the NRA Show, Health-Ade Kombucha served kombucha on tap and from glass bottles. Health-Ade offered four cocktails recipes including for PCH Mojito and Beet Sangria. Stephen Lee, CEO of Pure Steeps sampled his Kombucha Wonder Drinks. He explained how kombucha makes a good mixer in cocktails. He offers several kombucha cocktail recipes including one for the Blood Orange Kombucharita in his book, Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs, and Mixers.

Owl’s Brew offered its “Tea Crafted for Cocktails”. The company’s liquid tea concentrates are loose leaf teas and spices that have been fresh-brewed and sweetened before bottling. The Owl’s Brew products designed to be two parts Owl’s Brew and one part liquor were designed to provide a fresh, lightly sweetened alternative to existing mixers.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Top 5 Food Trends Seen at the 2017 National Restaurant Association Show

The National Restaurant Association Show hosted its 98th annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants (BAR) at NRA Show from May 20–23, 2017 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. In this article, I will highlight noteworthy trends in food that I saw at the show. A separate article on beverage trends will be published.

1. Bowling for Breakfast

Menu trend analyst Nancy Kruse highlighted Wagamama's Ramen Breakfast in her "Menu Trends 2017" session. McDonald’s decision to offer an all-day breakfast effective October 2015 has brought more attention to the additional revenue potential of breakfast. Restaurants adding more breakfast options are embracing traditional egg, sausage, and cheese sandwiches as well as breakfast bowls and ethnic egg casseroles such as the Tunisian shakshuka. The “Bowling for Breakfast” FOODamental Studio session ties into to the rising demand for comfort foods such as ramen noodles served in a bowl. In the session, Abra Berens, Chef at Granor Farm, demonstrated how to use eggs, beans, and vegetables to make a breakfast bowl. 

2. Filipino Flavors

Ricardo Jarquin, Brandon Domingo, Josyline Javelosa, Ph.D., Consul Melchor Lalulino, Jr

Filipino cuisine was center stage at this year’s show. Two FOODamental Studio sessions featured chefs preparing Filipino dishes that represent a melting pot of culinary influences from Spain, China, Malaysia, Japan, and the U.S. At a “Breakfast Beyond Borders” session, Carlo Lamagna. Executive Chef at Clyde Common and creator of the Twisted Filipino pop-up dinner series, demonstrated how to prepare arroz caldo, a type of congee with chicken bits. The National Restaurant Association cited ethnic-inspired breakfast items and authentic ethnic cuisine as two of the top 10 food trends in its 2017 Culinary Forecast.

In the “Cool as Kinilaw” session, Chef de Cuisine Ricardo Jarquin and sous chef Brandon Domingo from Travelle Kitchen + Bar taught me and other attendees how to make kinilaw, a Filipino style ceviche made with coconut milk. Agriculture Attaché Josyline Javelosa, Ph.D., of the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines and Consul Melchor Lalulino, Jr (both pictured) of the Consulate General of the Republic of the Philippines attended the kinilaw session. The Philippines pavilion at the show hosted exhibitors featuring a wide range of foods including banana chips, calamansi concentrate, coconut amino sauce, and single-origin dark chocolate.

3. Diners Want Plant-based Options

Though only 3.3 percent of U.S. adults follow a vegetarian-based diet according to a 2016 Harris Poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, growing numbers are looking to eat more plant-based options for a number of reasons including health concerns, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability. Plant-based foods also have higher appeal among college students and Millennials. The same Harris Poll found that 5.3 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-34 are vegetarian, compared to 3.3% for all U.S. adults. The age 18-34 group is also keen on eating vegetarian meals when eating out. 43% of the ages 18-34 stated that they always or sometimes eat meals without meat, fish, or poultry when eating, compared to 37% of the total U.S. adult population.

Restaurants at all price points are adding more vegetable-based options. The White Castle fast food chain made news when it added Veggie Sliders made with Dr. Praeger’s vegetable burger to its menu in 2014. It recently introduced a Black Bean Slider, also made with a Dr. Praeger’s product. 

At the NRA Show, a number of companies offered a wide variety of plant-based products to appeal to flexitarians and reducetarians looking to eat less meat. Beyond Meat calls its The Beyond Burger, “The world’s first 100% plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like ground beef.” The makers of The Beyond Burger have designed it to be very close to a beef patty with similar levels of protein and calories (20 grams of protein and 290 calories per 4 oz. patty) as well as providing the “bleeding”, courtesy of beet juice extract. Similar to Beyond Burger, Eleni’s Modern Mediterranean’s plant-based gyro slices and shawarma slices offer 21 grams of protein per serving. The Tofurky booth showed boxed sandwiches made with its deli “meats” as a grab and go option.  Passport Food Group, LLC offered Wing Hing Popcorn Tofu, a crispy seasoned organic fried tofu, to capitalize on the popularity of popcorn fried chicken and shrimp. Pinnacle Foods Group offered Gardein Meatless Italian Pizza Crumbles made to simulate pork crumble.

4. Hummus Growing in Popularity and Options

Hummus continues to grow in popularity in the US, with retail sales growing by 3 percent to reach $788 million during the 52-week period ended October 3, 2016, according to IRI data. Sabra, the number one hummus brand in the U.S., sees plenty of room for future growth as household penetration of hummus is only at about 29% in the U.S. At the NRA Show, multiple exhibitors showcased their hummus including Sabra, which is owned by Strauss and distributed by PepsiCo in the U.S. Makers of the chickpea-based dip and spread are aiming to distinguish themselves from rivals by touting their products as offering fresh taste. Baruvi Fresh LLC’s Hummustir offered a kit that allows foodservice operators to easily make fresh hummus by combining packets of organic chickpea puree, organic tahini, and spices, and stirring. Ithaca Hummus calls its hummus “cold crafted” by touting its use of cold pressed lemon juice, blending while cold, and the use of high pressure processing (HPP).

5. Minis in Breads and Desserts

Foodservice operators are aware that many consumers are seeking to watch their calorie and carbohydrate intake. They also want to offer grab & go items in the chiller case and reduce food waste. Food makers offered several mini breads and desserts to meet consumer demands for small indulgences and snacks. Pinnacle Foods Group introduced Duncan Hines Perfect Size For 1 Cakes mixes in flavors such as Strawberry Shortcake that can be microwaved in cups. The Eli’s Cheesecake Company offered 3-inch Butter Tarts and Salted Caramel Tarts in bulk or individually wrapped formats. On the savory end, Boulart’s Ciabatta Bites are now individually wrapped in heatable packaging. FGF Brands, Inc's Stonefire Ancient Grain Mini Naan offers the advantages of ancient grains (quinoa, spelt, buckwheat) and 40 fewer calories than its original Naan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Free-From Options at the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo

I attended the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo (GF&AF) for the first time when show organizer Gluten Free Media Group hosted its two-day expo on April 22-23 in Schaumburg, a suburb of Chicago. The consumer show hosted exhibitors representing food companies, beverage companies, retailers, educational resources for individuals with celiac disease such as The Celiac Project who is pictured above as well as education classes. While the major focus of the show was gluten free products, the GF&AF Expo also addressed the growing demand for “Free-From” foods. Global market research company Euromonitor International stated that global sales of Free-from foods and beverages grew by 7 percent in 2016 to reach US$32 billion. Euromonitor defines Free-from as “food products that do not contain ingredients known to cause a reaction for people with food allergies or intolerances.” In this article, I will discuss the eight most common allergens in the U.S. and the allergy friendly positioning of Enjoy Life Natural Brands, LLC and BFree Foods USA Inc.

The 8 Most Common Allergens in the U.S.

According to the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the following eight foods account for about 90 percent of food allergic reactions in the U.S. To safeguard consumers’ health, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires that food labels identify the food source names of ingredients that fall under the following eight food groups and any ingredient that contains a protein derived from one of the “major food allergens”.

The 8 “major food allergens” are:

1.      Milk

2.      Eggs

3.      Fish (e.g., cod, pollock, salmon, tilapia)

4.      Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)

5.      Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, coconuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts)

6.      Peanuts

7.      Wheat

8.      Soybeans

Every exhibitor at the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo offered signage on tables that identified the eight major food allergens as well as the presence of gluten, corn, yeast, and sesame.

Allergy Friendly Positioning of Enjoy Life and BFree Foods
The market for Free-from and allergy friendly foods is a big one as an estimated 15 million Americans have a food allergy according to data cited by the Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc. An estimated three million Americans have celiac disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many food companies are realizing that they want to reach both consumers who are looking for gluten free products as well as individuals looking to remove common allergens such as dairy, soy, nuts, and eggs from their diets. Among the exhibitors at the GF&AF Expo, Enjoy Life Natural Brands, LLC and BFree Foods focused on marketing its allergy friendly positioning.

Enjoy Life Foods, a division of Mondelez International, decorated its booth to as Enjoy Life Land, a place where children and adults could enjoy product samples from Cookie Canyon, Allergy Friendly Forest, and Freedom Mountain, among other areas. The company’s tagline is “eat freely”. In addition to being free of all the above mentioned eight major food allergens, the company’s products are also free of casein, sesame, and sulfites.

BFree Foods USA Inc is the U.S. subsidiary of BFree Foods, headquartered in Ireland. BFree’s tagline is “Be Wheat & Gluten Free”. Going beyond gluten free, all of BFree’s products are free of dairy, nuts, eggs, and soy. The line of BFree breads are vegan and contain no added sugar. The company also uses ingredients such as peas, apples, and potatoes to increase the bread’s protein and fiber content.

Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo Coming to Other Cities

The Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo is scheduled to take its traveling expo to other U.S. cities including Atlanta; Glendale, Arizona; and Worcester, Massachusetts. More information can be found at

Friday, April 21, 2017

Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo Coming to Chicago Area

I am excited to attend the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly (GF&AF) Expo in Schaumburg, Illinois taking place on April 22-23. The organizer Gluten Free Media Group states that the 8-city Expo “is the biggest gluten free and allergen friendly event in the US”. Gluten-free products are big business, with market researcher Mintel estimating the US market for gluten free foods at $11.6 billion in 2015 according to an October 2016 article in The Verge ( An estimated three million Americans have celiac disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rising demand for gluten free foods is coming not just from individuals with celiac disease but from consumers who believe that consuming gluten free products will help them with weight loss, digestive issues, and autism.


The GF&AF Expo offers consumers with celiac disease and individuals with food allergies the chance to learn about and try a wide variety of gluten free and allergy friendly products. I look forward to discovering new products and talking with people I have met at other trade shows. One of the scheduled exhibitors is Brazi Bites out of Portland, Oregon who makes Brazilian cheese bread (Pao de Queijo). Another is Biena Foods with their chickpea snacks. I wrote about how Brazi Bites are naturally gluten-free because they are made with tapioca flour, cheese, and yucca root and that Biena chickpea snacks are a better for you option to chips at


In addition to a wide range of snacks, the exhibitors will offer baking products, breads, dairy alternatives, salad dressings, spreads, and yogurt. Udi’s Gluten Free, the number one gluten free food brand in the US, is a presenting sponsor of GF&AF Expo along with sister brand Glutino. In response to growing demand for convenient gluten free products, Udi’s has expanded from its original line of breads to include breakfast sandwiches, granola, and frozen meals. I will be writing a recap of trends seen at GF&AF Expo.


The Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo will take place at the Schaumburg Convention Center at 1551 Thoreau Drive North, Schaumburg, IL 60173 on April 22 and April 23. More information can be found at