Nine innovative twists from CHFA Connect

The CHFA Connect trade show served up a smorgasbord of intriguing food products.

Experimentation with new applications for common ingredients can be a catalyst for innovation. Case in point, who knew how versatile the humble carrot can be – from carrot “bacon” to carrot “seafood”? Check out these nine brands that are putting a new twist on basic ingredients.

Bungle-proof brown butter

CHFA Connect Hunter Browns

Meet the next culinary staple, Hunter Browns Brown Butter Cubes. Browning butter is an art, requiring precise timing to prevent burning. Hunter Browns eliminates the guesswork with ready-to-use pre-measured cubes to enhance the flavour of most any dish. They’re made with just one ingredient, unsalted New Zealand grass-fed butter. Convenient to have on hand, with four month refrigerated shelf life and eighteen months frozen. I’m dying to try it on homemade popcorn.

Sol Cuisine, a true innovator

CHFA Connect Sol Cuisine

They started producing vegan foods back in 1980, decades before we knew we needed them. Now they’ve repurposed cauliflower into Sol Cuisine Cauliflower Plant-Based Burgers. The soy-free, gluten-free ingredient deck reads like a complete meal with vegetables, proteins and rice. Sol Cuisine’s diverse range of plant-based burgers includes Spicy Black Bean; Sprouted Quinoa Chia; Chickpea Sweet Potato; and Mushrooms & Wild Rice.

Exotic ingredient snack

CHFA Connect Karma Bites

Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), a relative of the water lily, is a food staple in Indian and Asia and also used for medicinal purposes. All parts of the plant – flowers, seeds, leaves, stems and tubers – are edible. Lotus seeds can be eaten raw or sun-dried and popped like popcorn. A favourite snack for three generations of Ashwin Ahuja’s family inspired the launch of Karma Bites Popped Lotus Seeds.  The gluten-free “nuts” tickle the taste buds with five flavours: Wasabi; Coconut & Vanilla; Caramel; Peri-Peri; and Himalayan Pink Salt.

Something’s fishy with carrots

CHFA Connect Save da Sea

Innovator Aki Kaltenbach marinates carrots to magically transform them into vegan smoked “salmon” that “convincingly mimics the taste and texture of salmon lox”. The clean ingredient deck consists of carrots, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, sunflower oil, sea salt, natural smoke flavour, organic flax oil and seaweed. Save da Sea Vegan Smoked Salmon definitely merits a taste. Finding a way to sample this product will be key to drive trial.

Uncommoditizing a commodity

CHFA Connect RightRice

To improve the nutritional profile of white rice, RightRice amped up the protein and fibre and toned down the carbs. It’s a reinvention of rice with lentil and chickpea flours and pea fibre combined with rice flour. The cooking method is similar to couscous and takes just 10 to 12 minutes to prepare a gluten-free base for sides, salads and main dishes. Adding value to a commodity like rice creates a point of difference and can justify a higher price. Whether RightRice becomes a dietary staple remains to be seen.

Novel nutrient rich juices

CHFA Connect Biotta

Biotta, a Swiss producer of organic fruit and vegetable juices since 1957, bottles some unique beverages. Biotta Potato Juice is unclarified, pressed from raw organic potatoes with fennel juice added to enhance the flavour. Potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals and the juice may help to relieve certain digestive problems. Biotta Sauerkraut Juice from naturally fermented white cabbage aligns with the fermented foods trend for gut health. Biotta Celery Root Juice is lacto-fermented and described as “light, crisp and refreshing, with a hint of sweetness”. All juices are fresh-pressed, organic and not from concentrate.

Nuts to seeds

CHFA Connect Fatso

For peanut avoiders, Fatso Almond and Seed Butters feature almonds with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, enhanced with tapioca fibre (isomalto-oligosaccharide) for sweetness, ground flax, chia and MCT oil. One tablespoon provides 2 g fibre and 3 g protein.

CHFA Connect Watermelon Jerky

Jerky for every occasion

Jerky is no longer relegated to the protein category. The savory snack has morphed into a “deliciously sweet and pleasantly chewy” fruit jerky. Organic Traditions Watermelon Jerky and Honeydew Jerky is a naturally sweet, single ingredient treat.

Tortilla chips redefined

CHFA Connect Late July

Late July has added No Grain Tortilla Chips to their lineup of Clásico and multigrain chips. Instead of grains and corn the gluten-free chips are made with cassava flour, ground tigernuts (high fibre tubers), tapioca flour and chia seeds.

In case you didn’t notice, all these products are aligned with the growing plant-based trend.

As CPG food consultants, Birgit Blain and her team transform food into retail-ready products. Birgit’s experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Brands and President’s Choice®. Contact her at or learn more at

© Birgit Blain 2021

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