news & trends

Top 3 Trends & Winners at Grocery Innovations Canada 2017

Lucia GIC grocery trade show 2017 gic 2017 show pic

Grocery Innovations Canada (GIC) is a ‘must attend’ annual event for professionals in the grocery and specialty food business. This year’s conference and trade show offered tips for growth, innovation, and best ways to connect with consumers.  Here are 3 TOP TRENDS we recognized in some of the award winning products.

  1. Pack it with protein
  2. Make it Fresh
  3. Keep it simple & clean for labels

Pack it with protein
Food makers are adding and highlighting protein in just about every category. It’s true that consumers are looking for protein but many people are confused about how much they need and where are the best sources of this important nutrient. As dietitians, we translate the science and find that Canadian nutrition recommendations encourage people to include plant based proteins and balance their protein intakes throughout the day, especially at breakfast.

Two of the 2017 Grocery Innovation award winners featured a protein claim.
•     EGGbakes (Burnbrae Farms Ltd.) with about 13 grams protein per 95 g serving.
•     PrOATein Premium Nutritional Bar (PrOATein) 15 grams protein per 50g bar.

gic 2017 egg burnbrae

Grocery Innovation 2017 Proatein



Make it Fresh
Demand for fresh food is on the rise (Euromonitor). We saw many packages inviting us to eat with our eyes first, using windows to let fresh food peek through and beautiful fresh food images on pack. Adding a story about where the food was grown and who cared for it makes packaged fresh food a consumer attraction. One of the top 10 winners of the 2017 Grocery Innovations Awards captured this trend: Ready-To-Eat Fresh Fruits & Vegetables (Nature Knows Inc.) showcasing fresh grape tomatoes, blueberries or grapes.

gic 2017 nature knows

Keep it Simple – the food label that is.
Consumers are looking for a clean label which may be interpreted as a combination of ‘free from’ features as well as an ingredient list that is easy to read, understand and not too long. Simply Simple Kefir+ Overnight Oats (A&M Gourmet Foods Inc.) was voted as one of the top 10 most innovative products.
gic 2017 kefir overnight oats

food labelling changes n4nn

You already know Canadian packaged foods are preparing to update their labels to comply with new Ingredient list and Nutrition Facts Table regulations.  Are you working with food brands and rethinking your food offerings? If you have questions about food and health contact us. As Registered Dietitians we are Canada’s trusted experts who translate the science of nutrition into terms everyone can understand. We unlock food’s potential and support healthy living for all Canadians. Reach us for reliable advice at







What’s the truth about Coconut Oil?

coconut oil N4NN newsletter

At our 10th annual N4NN course this year, participants asked many questions that you may be wondering about too. We’ve busted some myths that are worth sharing – for example, the facts about Coconut Oil!

 A lot of information is out there about coconut oil, leaving consumers confused about the truth. Since coconut oil comes from coconuts, it could have a nutty flavour and appear as liquid or semi-solid at room temperature. You may wish to use it in your cooking for its flavour or texture, but remember it’s still 100% fat so use in moderation!

The scientific research does not hold up sufficient evidence to say that coconut oil has health benefits. For heart health, studies show canola and olive oils are better for you.  Enjoy a small amount of healthy oils – 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) – each day.

Do you have nutrition questions? Let us know and we’ll answer it in a future newsletter or in our social media postings. Follow us @NutritionTraining @SueMahRD  @LuciaWeilerRD


Top Food Innovations at the 2017 SIAL Show


This year marked the 150th anniversary of SIAL – North America’s largest food innovation show! We were there and here’s what caught our eye!

Quinoa still going strong

Making its foray into the baby / toddler food market, Bio-Kinetics introduced an organic Sprouted Whole Grain Quinoa Baby Cereal. Millennial moms will be pleased with the clean ingredient deck (nothing but quinoa). Also in this line-up are sprouted oats and sprouted buckwheat cereal. #GetKidsHookedOnQuinoaEarly


Building on the convenience trend, France-based Sabarot showcased Le Petit Quinoa, a ready-to-slice roll of quinoa – really! Recognized as a top 10 finalist for the SIAL Grand Award, the product can be sliced, grilled, fried and used in a variety of dishes. #ConvenienceMeetsHealthy

SIAL quinoa loaf2.

The Millennial Market

It was the name of the exhibitor booth – “Millennial Foods Inc.” – that made me stop in my tracks! Quebec-based founder Simon Letendre created a “North Americanized” version of bubble tea. Instead of using tapioca, the tea is made with Mubbles – which stands for “Molecular Bubbles” and are essentially tiny fruit juice bubbles made via a molecular spherification process. Mubbles are packaged in a small container, much like a fruit cup and can also be used in drinks, salads and desserts. #InterestingButALittleTooSweetForMe

Sial mubbles1

Healthy Snacks

Innovation often starts in the home or farm kitchen. This is true for Spokes – air-puffed potato snacks, shaped like bike spokes, with 40 calories per cup and no preservatives. Created by Calgarian #SeniorEntrepreneur Elaine Cadrin, Spokes is geared to millennials. “The millennial mom is our target,” says Mike Cadrin, Senior Sales Director and proud son, “They’re looking for a super clean ingredient deck and want something special and unique.” #LovedTheMangoHabaneroFlavour

SIAL spokes potato chips 3

Another one of our favourite snacks at the SIAL show were these Crunchy Peas – made by Zak’s Organics, a fourth generation family-run farm in the small community of Fir Mountain, Saskatchewan (where the population is under 500). Inspired by Allen Zak’s own kids, the snacks are made from organic whole green peas and available in four different taste profiles with a new #trendingflavour mango habanero launching next month. #GrownInTheCanadianPrairies

Sial Zaks crunchy peas

East Meets West

If you’ve never tasted sea vegetables, Acadian Seaplants wants you to try! Hana Tsunomata is a sea plant that’s cultivated in the east coast. It’s available in a trio of colours: pink to represent Japan’s cherry blossoms; green to represent new life; and yellow to represent the chrysanthemum which is the favourite flower of the Japanese royal family. The product must be rehydrated in water for about eight minutes and can be used to add colour and texture to salads, cold noodles or pasta dishes. Holly Reardon, Brand Strategist for the product says food service is their primary market. #SeaVeggie


Sweet Stuff

A Quebec-based company, Great Northern Maple, developed Kombucha Syrup. The ingredients are evaporated cane juice, black tea and kefir cultures. Though the product claims to have probiotics, there is no disclosure of the amount. #DidntWinMeOver


Février 29 was another top 10 finalist for the SIAL Grand Award for it’s fun way to package Maple Syrup. Designed to sit right on the counter, the syrup is packaged in a bag-in-tub container, complete with a spout. And what’s the rationale for the company’s name? February 29 makes every day exceptional, 366 days of the year. #CoolPackaging

SIAL feb 29 maple syrup2

Taking the Grand Prize at this year’s SIAL show was Taj Food’s Saffron Sugar Cubes. According to Sap Hariri, Sales Director for the product, the sugar cubes allow consumers to add flavour and sweetness their teas all at once. The sugar cubes are also available in cinnamon and cardamom flavours. #SweetMeetsSpice

SIAL sugar cubes winner

Grocery Innovations Show 2013

We’re always on the lookout for nutrition trends and new products. From water, protein tea and baobab fruit smoothies to enriched flours and ethnic snacks, here are a few highlights we noticed from this year’s Grocery Innovations show.

Water. With an increasing trend on healthy hydration, a couple of Canadian products caught our eye. Seva Maple Water, a slightly sweet tasting water is sourced from Quebec’s sugar maple trees. One cup (250 mL) contains 25 calories, 30 mg sodium and 5 g sugar. Happy Water, awarded among this year’s top ten innovative products, is a blend of natural spring water and mineral waters from British Columbia. In a two-cup (500 mL) serving, the water offers 0 calories, 15 mg sodium and 0.1 ppm of lithium, an element that is often used in medicines to treat mood disorders.

Bluedot Protein Tea. We’ve been forecasting and watching the protein trend for years now. Combined with a rising interest in beverage innovations, these green and white teas feature whey protein isolate and inulin (a prebiotic fibre). Each flavour offers 12 g protein and 6 g fibre per 473 mL serving. The calories range from 60 to 140, depending on whether the drink is sweetened with stevia or cane sugar.

Baobab Smoothies. Touted as the new superfruit, baobab (pronounced “BEY-oh-bab”) is filled with antioxidants and vitamin C. It’s an African fruit that tastes like a blend of pineapple and melon, and was approved for European markets last year.  These smoothies are made with the Baobab fruit pulp and range from 140-160 calories with 6 grams fibre and 22 grams of sugar per 300 mL bottle.

Robin Hood Nutri Flour Blend – Omega-3 and Fibre. “Baking is back,” says Stephen Kouri, VP Sales & Trade Marketing at Smuckers Foods of Canada Ltd. The company’s Nutri Flour blend includes a gluten-free offering as well as a new omega-3 and fibre blend (it’s made with whole wheat flour and flax seeds). We just think there’s definitely something comforting and relaxing about home baking, not to mention the satisfaction in posting your delectable creations on Instagram or Pinterest.

Masala Munch. Kurkure showcased their Masala Munch, a flavourful crunchy cheeto-like snack made with enriched cornmeal and chickpea meal. The snack is quite popular in India. A serving of 50 pieces packs in 300 calories and 19 g of fat though.

Grocery Innovations Canada announces top product innovations for 2013

The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) has announced its Top 10 Most Innovative Products for 2013 at this year’s Grocery Innovations Canada annual trade show and conference in Toronto. Canadian grocers and industry delegates in attendance voted on the innovative products after having the opportunity to test and review hundreds of new products for the upcoming year. Products were evaluated based on three criteria: most unique, most buzz-worthy, and best consumer response.

The top 10 innovative products for 2013, in no particular order, include:

  • MiO Liquid Water Enhancer (Kraft Foods Inc.)
  • Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix (Acosta Canada)
  • Stock First (Campbell’s)
  • Balsamic Cream (La Carrera)
  • Coconut Vinegar (Organika)
  • Take Home, Bake Fresh Products (Koko Patisserie)
  • TO Tablex (Tablex )
  • Buitoni Pizza (Nestle)
  • Belvita Breakfast Biscuits (Kraft Foods Inc.)

And the winners are…

For the past 20 years the Retail Council of Canada presented its annual Grand Prix New Products Award to the most innovative best new products launched in Canada that year. The health and wellness trend is evident and several products successfully leveraged nutritional attributes. The list of 2011 winners were announced recently as:

  • Première Fournée de Weston Breads (WESTON BAKERIES)
  • Tenderflake Easy Pie!™ Kits (MAPLE LEAF FROZEN BAKERY)
  • Oasis® Health Break CholestPrevent (A. LASSONDE INC.)
  • Cadbury Caramilk Secrets (KRAFT CANADA INC.)
  • OIKOS, Greek yogurt (DANONE CANADA)
  • Janes Wild Sockeye Salmon Burgers (JANES FAMILY FOODS LTD)
  • Sorbet (SOLOFRUIT INC.)
  • McCain® Ultra Thin Crust Pizza (McCAIN FOODS (CANADA)
  • Love Crunch™ (NATURE’S PATH FOODS INC.)
  • Bear Paws Cereal & Fruit (DARE FOODS LIMITED)

For more information and product descriptions, visit Retail Council of Canada Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards 

Product Review – Odwalla Chocolate Protein Shake

Made with organic soymilk, milk protein concentrate, and soy protein isolate, the Odwalla smoothie boasts 29 grams of protein per 355 mL single serve bottle.  By comparison, a cup (250 mL) of chocolate milk contains about 9 grams of protein. Protein promises to be the next big nutrient as research continues to uncover a link between satiety, weight management and protein. The plant bottle packaging consists of material derived from molasses and sugarcane juice, and is 100 per cent recyclable. Did we mention that the shake tastes great too?