Five Trends-Chips, Black Soybeans, Seaweed, Ginger and Gluten-free Oats


Here are five more trends seen at the 2012 Natural Products Expo West to be added to the “sweetener,” “kale,” and “coconut water” trends discussed in previous Global Food Forum blogs this March 2012.

Photo of Oatstanding Beverage

A pleasantly flavored and textured beverage, Sneaky Pete’s Oatstanding Beverages are said to “sneak” dietary fiber into one’s diet.

Photo of Annie Chun's savory roasted Korean seaweed with wasabi

Annie Chun’s added Sesame and Waskabi flavored varieties to its Roasted Seaweed Snack line, an example of the on-going interest in both seaweed and cracker-type snacks.

1. Health Bars Down, Chips Up. This year at NPEW the flood of new health bars finally seems to have slowed some. The “new kid on the block” that is taking their place may well be crackers, chips and related snacks. Veggie chips, pita chips, black bean and other legumes, sesame, seaweed, popcorn and, of course, tortilla and potato chips and crackers in a multitude of flavors appeared in many dozens of booths. Examples include Popcorn Indiana Chipins (I tried the sea salt variety, they were tasty) and Michael Season’s “Popped Black Beans Crisps” to name just two.
2. Black soybeans. Speaking of black, black soybean products popped up at a number of booths. They were promoted as being more healthful and able to deliver more antioxidants than the more common beige soybeans due to the dark outer soybean coat. Wikipedia notes that the hull of soybeans come in a variety of colors such as “black, brown, blue, yellow, green and mottled.” Examples include Nasoya’s new Black Soybean TofuPlus. Eden Organic also has canned Black Soy Beans on the market.
3. Seaweed “crisps” (for a lack of a better word). The show always has a proper showing of algae-based foods and beverages, but paper thin, salty and still “seaweed-tasting” products appeared in more than a few booths. Annie Chun’s added two new flavors, Sesame and Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snacks. Another example is Yama Moto Yama’s “Seawood Snack Chips.”
4. Ginger. A trend that showed up a few years ago seems to continue unabated this year. Always a popular traditional flavor and medicinal spice for aiding digestive health, ginger-flavored and ginger-containing beverages and foods were everywhere. Examples include Reed’s Ginger Brew Culture Club Kombucha Gogi Ginger variety and a range of Bruce Cost Ginger Ales made from “fresh ginger (no extracts or oils)…”.
5. Oats. Oats have a great health reputation to begin with and their use is expanding as technology allows for broader applications. Examples include Oat Tech’s OatSweet (syrup from an enzymatically hydrolyzed oat slurry of reduced bran content); Sneaky Pete’s Heart Healthy Oatstanding Beverage in flavors from Raspberry Beret to Mango Mystique (a 12 oz. bottle contains 11% DV dietary fiber); and, Simpli’s Gluten-free Instant Oatmeal, Oats and Oat flour made from non-wheat contaminated oats imported from Finland.

— Claudia O’Donnell, Global Food Forums, a conference and seminar organizing service