CHFA Show Takeaways

CHFA showAs a packaged foods consultant, I nibble my way through trade shows to keep abreast of emerging and evolving trends and share insights with our clients.

The CHFA East show in Toronto unwrapped new twists on prevailing food trends, providing inspiration for product development.

A word of caution

Illegal claims run rampant in packaged foods. “Superfood” is one example. When using ingredients with purported health benefits, be sure to understand which health claims are permitted on packaging and websites. Contact me to create marketing copy that is compliant with Health Canada regulations.

Packaging Innovation

A key function of packaging is to protect product integrity. Foods can be negatively affected by exposure to oxygen, moisture, light and extreme temperatures.CHFA matcha

Matcha Now is an almost ready-to-drink green tea with an innovative cap that stores matcha powder, releasing it into the bottle with a simple twist. Not only does it protect the matcha from discolouration and degradation, the company is using the feature as a differentiator.

Ecoideas packs sensitive nutrition supplements in dark violet-coloured PET plastic Violite® jars, to block light and guard against nutrient degradation.

Cultivating the plant-based movement

CHFA vegan sausageThanks to fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, grains and seeds there are endless possibilities for creating tasty plant-based foods. Manufacturers are tackling the challenge of eliminating traditional protein sources like dairy and meat, while delivering similar flavours and textures. This rapidly growing trend is infiltrating a range of categories from milk, cheese, yogurt, deli meats and sauces, to snacks, desserts and chocolate.

Gusta Foods produces artisanal plant-based sausages with wheat protein in 5 savoury flavours.

All hail to Nuts!

Nuts are widely used to add protein, fibre, other nutrients and “healthy fats” to snack foods. And they have become the go-to ingredient for plant-based knock-offs of dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt and frozen desserts.

CHFA YosoYoso® cultures almonds, cashews and coconut to create a range of creamy, non-dairy indulgences. Unfortunately Health Canada regulations won’t let them call it “yogurt”.

Culcherd transforms coconut and avocado into a non-dairy butterlike consistency to spread and cook with in place of butter.

Nuts for Cheese™ makes “faux cheese” with sophisticated flavour profiles from cultured cashew “milk” blended with other ingredients.

CHFA Haymakers PunchFashionable Fermentations

The popularity of apple cider vinegar has spawned a slew of vinegar-based beverages like drinking vinegars, shots, shrubs, switchel and haymaker’s punch. Canadian brands include fermented pickler Mighty Fine Brine™ and False Ox .

Look beyond our borders

Novel ingredients originating from other parts of the world are cropping up in North American food products and worth exploring. 

Tigernuts are tubers, not nuts, that are very high in fibre. Add them to snack mixes, granola and baked goods. Also the main ingredient in horchata de chufa (tigernut “milk”).

Turmeric is an antioxidant used in herbal medicine as a digestive aid and anti-inflammatory. Thanks to its “superfood” halo it has gone mainstream. The golden spice is now highlighted on front of pack. New applications include kraut, tortilla chips, frozen desserts, elixirs, smoothies and coffee.

Insects like crickets are hopping in greater numbers into baked goods, snacks and sauces to boost protein. In most cases they are not the first ingredient. Canadian brands include Fit CricketCrickstartCoast and näak. 

CHFA moringaThe meat-like texture of young jackfruit is used in meatless curries, burgers, taco fillings and to mimic pulled pork.

Moringa is prized for its medicinal properties and marketed as a “superfood”. It can be incorporated into baked goods, snacks, smoothies and tea. Farafena supports African women farmers through social enterprise partnerships.

Baobab powder provides vitamin C, calcium and potassium and is used as a natural preservative. It’s reputed to have a host of health benefits that are yet to be scientifically proven.

Chaga mushroom, a fungus that grows on birch trees, is high in antioxidants and touted for its potential health benefits. Traditionally used as an herbal tea, the medicinal mushroom can be added to coffee, smoothies, soups and stews. Annanda Chaga Mushrooms from Canada are approved as a Natural Health Product by Health Canada, with daily dosage limits and cautions for consumption. 


During your next brainstorming session for new product concepts, consider novel ingredients to satisfy your target consumer’s needs.

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 or learn more at

© Birgit Blain

This article appeared in Food in Canada.

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