The winners of the World Food Innovation Awards were revealed at Hotelympia last week, with ambitious products and new development from around the industry giving an insight into the big trends of the moment. We take a look at each of the winners and how they pair with customer desires.
Best artisan product: Buckley & Beale’s sprouted genius crackers
These crackers are made with 100% wholegrain organic sprouted flour, combined with wheat flour for a good ‘snap’ and come in flavours like beetroot and salt and pepper.
But what is sprouted flour? Well, it’s intentionally allowing the whole grains to germinate and sprout and then milling them. Buckley & Beale uses the increasingly popular ancient grain amaranth as well as purple corn, which has recently been used in dishes at Paladar.
Similar to activated nuts, which also tap into the healthy snack market, it’s claimed that using sprouted grain in flour transforms it from a starch into a vegetable, making it much easier for the body to digest and absorb the nutrients. It’s also said the flour can define flavours more easily.
Best brand extension/limited edition: Arla Foods’ protein pouch
Tapping into the on-the-go market, Arla released 200g pouches of its yogurt-based snack, designed to be consumed while on the move and to rival popular formats such as powder protein shakes. There are 20g of protein per serving in two flavours: strawberry and mango.
It appeals to the consumer desire for more protein, as well as convenience.
Best children’s product: For Aisha infant tray meals
These meals are made for babies 10 months and older, boasting a more chunky texture while still being suitable for developing teeth and delicate palates.
Infants don’t miss out on trendy ingredients either, with quinoa, fenugreek and dates some of the ingredients in the meals. Nutritious baby eats are starting to come more to the fore, as health-conscious parents seek out the best for their offspring.
Best condiment/marinade: Hawkshead Relish Company’s black garlic ketchup
Black vegetables are set to knock off their purple counterparts as the next big thing for food this year.
Hawkshead’s ketchup consists of black garlic bulbs, which are crushed and combined with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Anglesey sea salt, as well as other spices.
It’s also gluten free, vegan friendly, GMO free and contains no added sugar.
Best confectionery product: KLG Spice’s gold cardamom fruitas
The company claims to have created the world’s first gold-covered, natural spice breath freshener using saffron and cardamom – smothered it in 24k edible gold. Freshening your breath has never been so fancy!
The product is of course vegan, gluten free, halal and kosher.
Best corporate social responsibility initiative: FareShare Go
Over 2000 Tesco stores give their surplus food to the programme, while Waitrose is trialling the scheme.
FareShare Go allows charity and community groups to receive good quality, in-date food that has damaged packaging or a short shelf life. Food often available includes eggs, bread and fresh fruit. It can be collected free of charge, and the organisation matches users up with a local supermarket.
Saving food waste and doing good? Well, that’s certainly on trend.
Best ‘free-from’ product: All Organic Treasures’ sunflower haché
Did someone say meat-free? Step aside seitan and tofu, it seems sunflower seeds are also a good alternative to meat. The company boasts that with its sunflower haché product, you can basically cook it just like mince.
The light flavour of sunflower seeds gives the dish a delicious nutty note and the seeds don’t need any soaking time either – you just add water and start cooking. There are also spice blends for three dishes: sunflower bolognese, mushroom pan and chili sin carne.
With more consumers looking for meat-free alternatives, including flexitarians, it’s no wonder this product was a winner.
Best health/wellness product: Turmeric Merchant’s turmeric paste
It seems like every cafe has a turmeric latte on the menu these days, even if there are questions over the spice’s health benefits.
On its website, Turmeric Merchant claims the spice can help relieve arthritis, control diabetes, reduce cholesterol levels, heal wounds and boost immunity, while also acting as a weight management tool and improving digestion.
The paste – a combo of turmeric root, virgin coconut oil, sea salt, black pepper and lemon juice – can be used to make tea, lattes and smoothies, as well as to jazz up stir-fries, curries and soups. It’s gluten- and dairy-free and has no preservatives and additives.
Best ingredient: Anglesey Sea Salt Company’s smoked water
It’s said to taste strongly of burned wood, and we know there’s a renaissance going on with barbecue. It was also originally made for Heston Blumenthal.
The company’s website exclaims: “From The Fat Duck to M&S gastro ready meals, our Oak Smoked Water has been doing a roaring trade since we launched it in 2013. It is exactly what it says on the bottle and is smoked in our smokers on site.”
The filtered water is cold smoked for 10 days to achieve the desired taste and is added to a dish a few drops at a time.
It’s recommended for soups, risottos and casseroles for a rich, smoky depth; or you can be more adventurous and freeze it into ice cubes for cocktails or make double-smoked mayonnaise.
Lea-Wilson and his wife, Alison, developed Halen Môn Oak Smoked Water at the Anglesey Sea Salt Co. in rural North Wales. They claim it is the only natural product of its type out there, though some US companies do make a liquid smoke product using chemicals.
Best new brand/business: Oatlaws’ illegally good oats from Finland
This Finnish company is putting the country’s grains on the map, sourcing from the Vesivehmaa Valley.
“The uniqueness of Finnish oats rises from its Arctic conditions and pure nature. A perfect foundation lies under the midnight sun for Finnish oats,” the company says.
Oatlaws main product range is oat drink mixes that make a turbo breakfast, snack or a meal, with more R&D on the way.
Best organic product: Seamore’s seaweed wraps
As Food Spark has already reported, these seaweed wraps are launching soon on Ocado.
They contain 50% seaweed and are designed for people looking for convenient and accessible food, but also healthy and sustainable alternatives.
From seaweed butter to pasta and bacon, this seems to be an ingredient on the rise.
Best snack: Hippeas’ organic chickpea puffs
These tree huggers are trying to change things for the better, one chickpea at a time.
Their crisps come in three flavours, and for every bag they sell, they donate to Farm Africa.
“We don't follow the rest of the snack pack. We go our own way. We think 'tastes good' and 'do good' can be in the same sentence. And we, like, totally, love snacks,” the company says.
The snack is organic, high in fibre and a source of protein; there are no trans fats or preservatives and each snack is 90 calories per serving.
There is also no MSG and its gluten, dairy and corn free as well as suitable for vegans.
Hippeas comes in four flavours: cheese; rosemary, oregano and thyme; fiery fajita with chilli, paprika and cumin; and paprika and smoked sea salt.
While it’s not using chickpea water to make vegan mayonnaise, it’s certainly ticking a lot of health boxes.
Best sustainability initiative: Vegware’s Close the Loop
It started off with compostable packaging designed to be recycled together with food waste.
Then Vegware launched Close the Loop in Scotland, their own composting collection service. The company picks up used Vegware and food waste for commercial composting, creating high-grade mulch in a matter of weeks. This waste then helps to feed future crops.
And it’s coming south too, with the initiative expected to reach England soon.