What goes onto your grocery store shelves is big business. Each year, for nearly 30 years, hundreds of producers and distributors meet with regional grocery store reps at the massive Grocery & Specialty Food West (GSFW) exhibition and conference.
Held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, GSFW is Western Canada's largest event of its kind, and for those who are walking the trade show floor, it's the chance to see what is new and about to hit the shelves at a store you probably shop in at over 300 booths. On the floor there were folks from all over, ranging from the Meinhardt's buying team to Save-On Foods reps, making deals and plans to add products to their line from small Vancouver vendors to things from big established brands.
The GSFW event is an interesting study in trends; here you'll find products that spring in idea form from consumer trends, then make the long journey to being a commercially-available product. It's no surprise, then, that in 2018, we're going to see more mass-produced foods that appeal to people following gluten-free or paleo diets, along with ingredients like turmeric and Oreos.
And speaking of trends, it's at GSFW last year that we first spotted one of the biggest headline-grabbers of the mass market food biz in Canada for 2017: those McDonald's sauces.
What are some of the things you'll want to look for soon in the grocery store? Well, as one of the judges for the Top 10 new products, I got a good sense of what the food biz wants us to be pumped for.
Here's a quick rundown of 10 kinds of things I spotted:
- Gluten-free everything: More options for breads, buns, gnocchi, and pizza crusts.
- Frozen cauliflower pizza crust (like what you may have been border hopping to get at Trader Joe's).
- Lots of global fusion "Canadian" flavours: Pizza pierogies, Butter Chicken Pizza, etc.
- Better graphic design. You might find that some big meat producers are updating their graphics (and including more prominent messaging about sourcing) to catch your eye and win you back.
- More flavoured fizzy water. While La Croix is more readily available in Canada now, Perrier is adding more flavours to their line up (hello, Strawberry!) and San Pellegrino is going the flavoured fizzy tea route.
- Natural beauty products. Lotions, deodorant, and other bathroom gear aimed at those who want less toxic junk on their bodies.
- Baking kits for single people/smaller batches. Mug cakes in every flavour imaginable for single servings. A line of cookie and bar pre-mixes that yield only 4-6 servings.
- Even more global products, from soda waters to spices.
- Low carb foods, foods for paleo or high protein/whole grain diets, like Stouffer's frozen "Fit Bowls," and Egg Bakes line of crustless quiches.
- Trendy ingredients: Oreo cookies (cereal, ice cream cones), turmeric (in juices, sauces), coconut oil (in cookies, spreads).
Other fun things to look out for include more Fentiman's beverage flavours (great mixers or for mocktails), Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios, heaps more special Kit Kat flavours, French's crunchy toppers made with pickles and peppers, and a cool single-use eco-friendly outdoor grill kit.
- Best Convenience: Blue Dragon 3 Step Meal Kits
- Best Health/Wellness: Apple & Eve Vegan Protein Smoothie
- Best Oil: Canada Golden-Pure Cold Pressed Camelina Oil
- Best Non-Food: CasuGrill
- Best Refrigerated: Egg Bakes Crustless Quiche (Burnbrae Farms)
- Best Condiment/Spread/Sauce: Fatso Hybrid Peanut Butter
- Best Frozen: Monteli Cauliflower Thin Crust Pizza
- Best Beverage: Partake Pale Ale - alcohol free (Partake Brewing)
- Best Health & Beauty: Sugar & Spice-Pink Sugar Body Lotion
- Best Sustainable: World Centric Certified Compostable Party Plates