From September 1-3, the Speciality & Fine Food Fair (SFFF) saw visitors packing into the Olympia London exhibition space to discover the latest products coming to market. From Pastinos pasta snacks and freeze-dried fruit crisps from LioBites, to Nibs Etc.’s brand-new sustainable granola bars made from food waste, there were plenty of innovative edibles on show.
Among the many stalls and innumerable items on show, eight were selected as finalists for the Fresh Discovery Awards, which were then whittled down to one overall winner.
Here, we take a look at the victor and the nominees to see what they say about current trends.
Manufactured in Ghana, this brand took the grand prize by making plantains into nutritious crisps. The packs come in five flavours – lightly salted, smoked chilli beef, spicy sweet chilli, sweet cinnamon and chicken with ginger and garlic – and boast an "African cultural narrative."
SoYoo, which was also at the SFFF, was showcasing something similar with sweet plantains, green plantains and cocoyams.
Food Spark noted last year that plantain is becoming an increasingly common ingredient, thanks to growing interest in Caribbean, Latin American and African cuisines, from savoury dishes like Puerto Rico’s mofongo to desserts like Nigeria’s plantain waffle.
It’s not the first time it’s appeared in a snack on these shores either, with Made for Drink selling packs of patacones to accompany golden rum.
Containing just carob molasses and tahini (a sesame-based condiment), this vegan chocolate-y butter promises to be “delicious and nutritious,” whether spread on toast, added to a smoothie for an iron and calcium boost, or as a marinade for lamb liver.
The product managed to score not just a Fresh Discovery nomination but also a finalist spot at the SFFF Pitch event.
There were a lot of sesame products on show – a bit of an anomaly considering the ongoing furore over allergens – one that Food Spark noted at the Allergy & Free From Show too.
Sesame Kingdom was in attendance once more with halva, a confection made from tahini. It was joined by Grecious, which specialises in Greek tahini, and Sead, a manufacturer of sesame butter in flavours like chocolate and caramel, honey and original, all made from Sudanese sesame.
Whole Foods predicted that this year would be the year we’d see frozen treats with a tahini base, but it appears we’re seeing a lot more than frozen foods take on sesame notes.
Vinegar is the trend that doesn’t seem to want to go away. Waitrose reported a spike in sales of apple cider vinegar after news of Posh Spice drinking the stuff for her health circulated on the news channels, while others have been using it in the more traditional homely pursuit of pickling and fermenting – not least because this is said to provide gut health benefits.
Driving this is innovation in flavours, which Vinegar Food provides in spades. The brand is a bit of a favourite with the Guild of Fine Foods, which last year praised its sushi ginger vinegar. This year’s mandarin-based variant is made with Sicilian mandarins and organic Catarratto white wine vinegar, which the brand recommends drizzling over salads, chicken and seafood – or as a daily tipple. Fans of the mandarin vinegar include Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain.
Experimentation with getting the right taste and texture for alternatives to the classic meat jerkies has been extensive over the past few years. The Meatsnacks Group released a similar product under the brand Krave last year, but its new brand focuses exclusively on salmon that is first marinated overnight, then smoked over beech wood. Giving it a bit of a provenance story, the produce is made on the banks of the River Spey, up in the Scottish Highlands.
In addition to the protein-powered aspect, the use of salmon also means added omega-3, delivered in three flavours: teriyaki, sweet chilli pepper, and sea salt and black pepper.
Body & Mind Botanicals
Given the ongoing mania for cannabidiol products, it’s no surprise that at least one of the finalists was a cannabis-infused item. Mind and Body Botanicals focuses on just three things: tea, honey and oil, all with a calming dose of CBD.
While CBD has sometimes found itself in controversial waters recently – Canna Kitchen in Brighton was shut down in May for peddling its enhanced mood foods – that hasn’t stopped a slew of products like Nooro’s nootropic snack bars and Themptation’s hummus from reaching shelves.
This is no doubt down to the consumer interest: Nooro noted in an interview with Food Spark that it was pushing out its NPD early due to the increasingly frantic marketplace, while a study by Streetbees found two-thirds of Brits would be interested in trying CBD-infused products.
MangaJo – Iced teas with antioxidant properties are the speciality of this brand, which sells flavours like acai berry with green tea and goji berry with green tea.
Duchess Alcohol-Free Gin & Tonic – Claiming to be the world’s first non-alcoholic gin and tonic, this premium cocktail alternative is made using re-distilled juniper berries.
InViaEmilia Sparkling Wine – A sparking white made from Spergola, an Italian grape grown on the hills of Reggio Emilia.