Innovation is defined as “a new idea, device or method” and has many forms, from products and services, to processes and technology. It may come to light in a business process as a result of problem solving, in a product adopted from foreign cultures or as an entirely new segment in the retail store (such as K-Cups).
In the food domain, it can be as simple as using an ingredient in a novel way (although it’s not easy).
Food trade shows are ideal venues to inspire innovation. Here are 10 ideas from this year’s CHFA East and CIFST shows, that may be a catalyst for the next big thing.
1. Food in tubes: Toothpaste has long been dispensed from tubes, so why not food? Aluminum tubes make perfect dispensers for beverage enhancers, sauces, syrups, condiments, fruit toppings, cheese spreads, purées and oils. This packaging format is easy to open, re-closable, portable, lightweight and has superior barrier properties. Monfitello will even fill them for you. Imagine the possibilities! Monfitello.com
2. McCormick FlavorCell™ Technology is a “controlled matrix release formulation” that lets you control the sequence of flavour release. To demonstrate, they created cherry black pepper dark chocolate that opened with a distinct cherry flavour, followed by a gentle black pepper note that gradually intensified over time. McCormick collaborates with food processors to customize each application.
3. Make it shimmer with Candurin® pearl effect colours (mica plated with titanium dioxide and iron oxide) from EMD Performance Materials. Health Canada recently approved it to add iridescence to candies, coating chocolate, cake decorations and alcoholic beverages. Emd-performance-materials.com
4. Crunchy cheese? Yes, Gay Lea is launching Ivanhoe™ brand “Nothing But Cheese” crunchy cheese snacks. Genuine Monterey Jack and Cheddar cubes are dried under vacuum. The shelf stable, cheesy nuggets make unique croutons for soups and salads and add protein to snack mixes. Available in bulk for food processors and single serve pouches.
5. Matcha tea is growing in popularity, fueled by perceived health benefits due to its high antioxidant content. Flavouring food with tea is not a new idea, but matcha imparts a unique flavour to baked goods, hot and cold beverages, ice cream, desserts and snacks (like coconut chips).
6. Turmeric lends a rich, golden colour to foods and is touted as having a host of health benefits. Trans-Herb just introduced a comforting herbal tea with turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper.
7. Watermelon, a refreshing summer memory, has made its way into cold pressed juice and other bottled beverages. Will it become the next maple water? Of course nothing beats chomping into the real thing for hydration and nutrients.
8. Africa and the Middle East bring us exotic hibiscus beverages and Australia’s Wild Hibiscus Flower Company preserves them in syrup, to create one-of-a-kind hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and desserts. WildHibiscus.com
9. Coconut is everywhere and increasingly paired with other flavours like bacon-flavoured oil; coconut water blended with juice; wasabi and Sriracha chips; and toffee. From sweet to savoury, cook with it, spread it, sprinkle it, drink it and slather it on your body. The possibilities seem endless.
Blue Monkey™ has reinvented coconut water to flavour and add nutrients to bottled water. Their Instant Coconut Water mix magically transforms water into a beverage that “tastes just like coconut water”.
10. With adults of all ages hungering for an energy boost to make it through the day, food brands are finding ways to incorporate Peruvian maca root, promising enhanced memory, mood, energy, sleep and libido.
So, open your mind to inspiration and let those ideas ferment into a new product that will delight your customers and differentiate your brand from competitors.
 Merriam-Webster dictionary
Birgit Blain can make your food products more marketable. She specializes in strategy, branding and packaging development. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Brands and President’s Choice®. Contact her at Birgit@BBandAssoc.com
© Birgit Blain