7 Nifty Grocery Innovations

Every trade show is an opportunity to gain insights that I share with our clients. GIC (Grocery Innovations Canada) in Toronto is no exception, enabling me to identify co-packers, ingredient suppliers, emerging trends and unique concepts to inspire product development. Check out these discoveries to see if they can be applied to your business.

Grocery Innovations Cedar Valley SelectionsInspired by Family and Heritage

Foods we grow up with are often catalysts for commercial products. 16-year-old Ameen Fadel saw a business opportunity in his mother’s “Fattoush” dressing for a popular Middle Eastern salad. So, he entered a high school business start-up contest and launched his own food brand, Cedar Valley Selections. Oh, the boldness of youth. I wish Ameen commercial success!

Look Before You Leap

Black foods are growing in popularity, but before jumping on the bandwagon with novel ingredients, we advise our clients to conduct thorough research. Cocoalnut markets a line of black flours with activated charcoal. Although activated charcoal is used as a treatment for poisoning, regular consumption can have health risks.

Grocery Innovations tofu dipsDairy & Vegan Coexistence

Planted-based food products are exploding (not literally). To appeal to the rising tide of plant-eating consumers, A&M Gourmet Foods diverged from dairy dips with the launch of certified vegan Simply SimpleTofu Dips. Note that nutritional profiles differ for dairy and vegan versions, which affects the label claims that can be made.

Grocery Innovations Baked Yogurt
Ethnic Twist on Fermented Dairy

L’SQIE Baked Yogurt is a fermented milk beverage based on a Chinese recipe. It is similar to Ryazhenka baked milk, a traditional fermented beverage from Russia, which I first tasted at the Restaurants Canada show in 2016. It’s fascinating to find similar foods among vastly different cultures.

Seasonal Selling

Kids with food allergies often feel left out, particularly during Halloween. Seeing this as a marketing opportunity, MadeGood® Foods introduced a seasonal Halloween multi-pack of “allergy friendly” snacks specially formulated for people with food allergies. When the snacks are handed out to trick-or-treaters it’s a free sampling program for the brand. Seasonal packaging can be an effective promotional vehicle for shelf stable specialty foods. Two words of caution; don’t limit the packaging design to a specific holiday and don’t over-sell, or you may have to reimburse retailers for unsold product.

Grocery Innovations kensington market street foodMore Than Cucumbers

When it comes to pickling, think beyond vegetables. Kensington Market Street Food™ pickles cantaloupe, pineapple and ginger to deliver a fresh and zesty crunch. The pickled line up consists of Pineapple & Jalapeño; Sweet & Hot Crunchy Cantaloupe; Sweet & Sour Crunchy Cantaloupe; Ginger Slaw; and Kimchi Slaw. Charcuterie platters are hot and these “pickles” make perfect pairings.

Process for Reinvention

Traditional seaweed snacks are light as air, so you need to eat a boatload to feel satiated. Kim’s Magic Pop uses a proprietary process to add substance to seaweed. A coating of tapioca starch and glutinous rice gives Seaweed Rice Crisps a satisfying crunch.


Birgit Blain helps food brands prepare their products for retail sale – from strategy to finished packaging.  Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Brands, managing a President’s Choice® portfolio. Contact her at Birgit@BBandAssoc.com or learn more at www.BBandAssoc.com

© Birgit Blain

This article appeared in FoodinCanada.com

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