Food In Canada


Health Food Barometer: 7 Opportunities

health foodWith today’s rapid rate of new product launches, it’s crucial for brand owners to keep an eye on food trends. The CHFA East trade show is an excellent barometer to gauge changes in the health food movement and spot emerging trends. Here is a snapshot of the latest developments from this year’s show.

1. Litany of Claims

Labels bearing protein claims continue to dominate, appearing in multiple categories from snacks to confectionery and beverage. Vegan options are on the rise and even make an appearance in the meat “jerky” segment. Non-GMO claims are increasing in spite of ingredient availability and cost challenges. Bucking the trend are low/reduced/fat free claims as consumers embrace the satiating quality of fat after decades of deprivation.

The popularity of gluten-free claims persists, and so do the misconceptions about regulatory and food safety requirements. Can gluten-free claims be trusted? The answer is no, if they are self-declarations with no certification to back them up.

2. Sugar Reduction

Brands are responding to the growing consumer demand for less sugar. New offerings include unsweetened flavours and increasing use of various sugar substitutes like sweet potatoes, fruit, coconut and non-caloric sweeteners typically marketed as “natural”. Stevia is the sweetener of choice for many products, leaving behind a characteristic bitter aftertaste.

Toronto’s GOOD FOOD FOR GOOD reinvented ketchup and made it healthier by removing the sugar. Sweetened with dates it boasts only 1 g of sugar per serving and has less sodium compared to leading brands.

3. Snacks Eclipse Meals

On-the-move consumers are looking for portable snacks and fortified beverages to keep them going. Solutions include an abundance of sweet and savory pocket-sized snacks touting energy, “natural” and a myriad of trendy ingredients. Drink mixes and ready-to-drink beverages are enhanced with vitamins, probiotics, greens and even collagen.

4. Smoothie Boosters are Big

Powders galore are designed to enhance the nutritional benefits of smoothies. The assortment of functional ingredients includes mushrooms, chia, kale, spirulina, alfalfa, matcha and libido-lifting maca. Haskapa just introduced a tangy Haskap Berry Powder that’s rich in antioxidants, polyphenols and anthocyanins.

5. Hemp is the New Hero

Hemp has quickly become as ubiquitous as quinoa and coconut. The explosion of products ranges from protein bars, smoothie powders, non-dairy beverages, oil, salad dressing, flour and vegan bone broth, to baking mixes suitable for the addition of medical marijuana.

6. Probiotics are Brewing

Consumers thirsting for probiotics have multiple fermented options beyond yogurt. Refreshing kombucha has taken off with umpteen flavours in ready-to-drink and powdered formats and DIY Kombucha Starter Kits. And kimchi has evolved from a side dish into drinkable Kimchi Live Shots™ to perk up your day.

7. Kiwis from Canada!

Now that kiwi fruit is grown in Canada, will it become the next hot ingredient? Snow Farms introduced an addictive Kiwi Jalapeño Dip ‘N’ Spread. Both sweet and savory, it adds a kick to yogurt, veggies, cheese, chicken, fish and homemade dressings. 

Timing is everything for new product launches. Catching a trend on the upswing increases the odds of commercial success. So, keep your eye on the trends.

Birgit Blain makes food products more marketable. Her company specializes in brand, label copy and packaging development. Learn more at or contact her at [email protected]

© Birgit Blain