Food In Canada

Unmasking innovation at CHFA NOW

By Birgit Blain   

Food Trends CHFA NOW Ontario Theobroma Chocolat

CHFA NOW (Natural, Organic, Wellness) Toronto has evolved to become the leading natural foods trade show, showcasing emerging and national brands alike.

Naturally, plant-based was big at this year’s show in September and continues to grow across a wide swath of categories. Other prominent, enduring claims were gluten-free, reduced sugar, vegan and keto.

CHFA NOW never ceases to surprise with interesting and innovative foods and beverages and this year’s show was no exception. Here’s a sampling of products that grabbed my attention and tickled my taste buds.

Culinary versatility with health benefits

Camelina oil first appeared on the market a few years ago, but Signé Camelina Oil is unique, with seed varieties specially selected for optimal culinary flavour, infusing the light, subtle oil with notes of fresh herbs, hazelnut and sesame. The non-GMO cold-pressed oil is high in omega-3, providing 5 g per 15 ml. With one of the highest smoke points (475 F), Signé Camelina Oil has a wide range of applications from frying to salads and dressings. The nutty flavour of fragrant Signé Roasted Camelina Oil is an excellent substitute for sesame oil, enhancing Asian dishes, and Signé Roasted Camelina Seeds, a source of protein, fibre and omega-3, make a tasty addition to virtually any dish. These camelina products are produced and processed by Olimega, a family of Quebec farmers, employing sustainable agricultural practices including the use of biofertilizer in lieu of chemicals.

The future of food

Upcycling creates multi-faceted opportunities for food brands to support environmental sustainability, and their bottom line. It entails rescuing food waste for repurposing and transforming it into value-added products. GroundUp Eco-ventures, a Canadian company, is tackling the proliferating food waste problem. Spent barley and coffee grounds from the beer and coffee brewing industries are transformed into protein and fibre-rich flours. The GroundUp product range consists of Upcycled Coffee Flour; 100 per cent Brewer’s Barley Saved-Grain Flour; Better Breakfast High-Protein Pancake Mix; and Born Again Protein Brownie Mix.

Take a crack at quail eggs

Quail eggs from domestic game birds are speckled and about one third the size of chicken eggs, with a taste described as creamier and richer. Family-owned Spring Creek Quail Farms lays convenience on the table. Their bite-sized Pickled Quail Eggs are pre-boiled, peeled, pickled and ready to eat. With no prep required, they provide a high protein, nutritious snack and colourful addition to salads and charcuterie boards. These photogenic eggs, raised without antibiotics and hormones, are also sold fresh.

Cassava takes root

Cassava, also known as tapioca, yuca and manioc, is a starchy, fibrous root vegetable eaten as a staple in many parts of the world. The plant is drought tolerant and can grow in poor soil, an advantage in regions with diminishing rainfall due to climate change.

Gluten-free pasta made from corn, rice and legumes has been around for several years. Now there’s Jovial organic cassava pasta, in grain-free, gluten-free spaghetti, penne and fusilli. Made in Italy, it is extruded through bronze dies.

Theobroma Organic Zero Sugar Chocolate has an unconventional ingredient, cassava fibre. Each 10 g bar provides the benefit of 4.5 g fibre. The two-bite, snack-size minis are available in Special Dark Chocolate and Coconut Chocolate.

FitBite Cassava Chips are cassava at its simplest, peeled, thinly sliced, fried in non-GMO sunflower oil and seasoned with sea salt. These chips dish out a satisfying super crunch with less fat than leading potato chip brands.

Brewing up protein  

Protein continues to be a sought-after nutrient in Canadian diets. So why not make it part of the daily coffee ritual? Brüst Protein Coffee is cold brew with a difference. It offers 20 g of protein per 330 ml serving and is sourced from New Zealand grass-fed dairy. For sugar avoiders, Brüst Dark Roast Cold Brew has no added sugar. The mellow coffee flavour lingers on the palate with no bitterness or acidic taste.

Sweet surprise

Dates have long been a staple in the Middle East, lauded as a natural source of energy, sweetener and nutritious snack.

Ripe dates are chewy with varying degrees of softness. Now Ecoideas has launched an innovative snack made from diced, baked dates: Organic Krunchy Capriccio Crunchy Date Snacks. These addictive morsels have an unexpected crunch and provide 3 g fibre per 30 g serving. As an ingredient, they would be ideal inclusions in cereals, trail mix and salad toppers.

Rethinking packaging

 Although the olive oil category is saturated, Maison Orphée found a way to innovate by improving the packaging. For EVOO devotees, Maison Orphée Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1.5 L and foodservice sizes are now available in a bag-in-box format; a recyclable cardboard carton with a plastic liner and pour spout. One 1.5 L carton replaces three glass bottles. Not only does it protect the delicate oil from light and oxygen, but is also 10 times lighter to ship, thereby reducing the carbon footprint. Consumers are responsible for disassembling package components for recycling and disposal.

Compostable misinformation

Several brands highlighted compostable packaging with messaging about environmental sustainability. Such packaging comes at a premium price but, it’s not money well spent because Canada’s waste management system is not equipped to process compostable packaging. Consequently, it ends up in landfill, which is the last thing buyers want.

As a CPG food consultant, Birgit Blain helps clients think strategically to build a sustainable brand. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Brands and President’s Choice. Contact her at or learn more at

Print this page


Stories continue below