Musing: Stand-Outs from the 2018 Fancy Foods Show
July 7, 2018

Spending a day at the NY Summer Fancy Foods Show is a sensory overload- but an experience I relish, as I’ve been attending the annual Show for most of the past 25 years.

There are thousands of exhibitors from around the world, packed into 4 floors of the  Javits Center.

Because of the enormity of the Convention and the limited time I have to spend there I plan my visits ahead of time to focus on a select handful of categories or companies, wear comfortable shoes, and pace myself as I take in a multitude of tastes, aromas and stories from entrepreneurs, as well as larger companies who exhibit primarily to showcase their products to the trade. My lenses are not that of a food buyer, but as a market researcher and creative catalyst working with many clients to help them develop product pipelines or hone their positioning or messaging.

My tour visit lenses this year: scanning for macro trends, plus focus on the world of snacks (savory and sweet) and beverages. I was not disappointed!

There were dozens of exhibitors that were intriguing to me, from the moment I entered the convention hall.

My first stop was at the Alpha Food Labs Future Market Exhibit. The interactive concept store presented a variety of trends as product concepts of the future. The macro trends include:  total personalization/customization, sustainability, re-use. Among the exciting imagined products of the future…

  • Custom Culture– precision microbiome yogurt designed to meet the individual’s precise needs
  • Analyze me– via pills that conduct an analysis of an individual’s microbiome
  • Alga Marina– sea nutrition based pasta
  • Nano Farm, an aeroponic horticulture system that allows you to grow farm-fresh foods at home
  • Aquapur– eco-friendly hydration using “ghost plastic” packaging- which does not use plastic
  • Refuel– precision nutrition 3D food printing cartridge which calibrates the individual’s nutritional needs to the microgram
  • Trim Snack– each bag contains 2 oz. of “food waste”- zesty BBQ crunchy veggie chips and jerky mix

Continuing a theme of the last decade, an emphasis on “Healthy” foods was pervasive. The majority of products I noticed contained a long list of “No bad ingredients.” (Organic or all Natural, non-GMO, gluten free, nondairy, or were targeted to specific diets: Vegan, Paleo.) Furthermore, the line between “good for you” and functional foods or nutraceuticals is blurred. But taste is still important!

Among the intriguing “healthy” snacks…

  • Eat Real organic veggie twists, lentil chips, hummus chips, quinoa puffs
  • Aree almond rice snacks had delicious combos in their new Crisp ‘n Chips line: black pepper & mustard, Sriracha & Cheese, Butter & Corn, Rosemary & Tomato, Barbeque & Salty Vinegar
  • LUKES featured organic white truffle & sea salt potato chips (“urbani Italian white truffles with french grey guerande fleur du sel salt) with this appropriate tag line: “Snack like a kid live like a grown up.”
  • Living Intentions offered ACTIVATED Superfood Nut Blend: Honey Sriracha, Thai Curry, White Chocolate, Malted Maple

These ingredients popped up in a wide range of snacks and other product categories:

  • Quinoa
  • Turmeric
  • Mushrooms
  • Coconut
  • Maple syrup
  • Hemp
  • Chick Peas
  • Flax seeds

From the snack world: Undercover Quinoa– dark chocolate and seeds– crispy organic quinoa lightly covered with premium chocolate or milk chocolate and currants.

Yes, chocolate is good for you! Especially when it’s dark chocolate, organic, single origin, paired with a Superfruit or super grain.

Natierra offered organic chocolate mango, banana slices – “real fruit with Amazon rainforest chocolate.”

Even traditional, hand-made pasta is being contemporized with health-focused ingredients: hemp, chick pea, flax seed, brown bean and spirulina.

A newcomer to the grain world is FONIO– a West African supergrain which, according to the exhibitor, “has an impressive nutritional profile.” One to watch for.

Super fruits and Super veggies continue to be strong with Acai Roots presenting the Super fruit Lifestyle…”More than a berry. A lifestyle.” The lifestyle is symbolized by a beautiful athletic looking woman eating a bowl of Acai Roots Superfood Bowls. The Bowls are also available in hemp, coco nibs and goji berry flavors.

Maple Syrup is not just for pancakes and waffles. Continuing a trend seen the last few years, it’s become a more sophisticated and versatile ingredient. Runamok Maple has their Sugarmaker’s Cut (the best of the season). It’s a line of barrel-aged, smoked and infused maple syrups.  Flavors include: smoked with pecan wood, hibiscus flower infused, cardamom infused, merquén infused – (merquén is an ancient spice with smoked chili peppers from Chile). It’s a delicious ingredient for vinaigrettes, BBQ, mixed into sweet potatoes or with cheese.

In the world of beverages, shots are hot!  

  • Ginger People has three Rescue shots from which to choose: ginger shot with coconut, with wild turmeric and with lemon & cayenne.
  • Fire & Brew has a line of premium health tonics that strengthen the immune system- Vitality Boosters with apple cider vinegar comes in citrus, chai, and strawberry.
  • Kings & Queens: offers antioxidant adaptogenic teas in peach, blackberry and lemon, that are based on the “seriously functional immune system boosting power of mushrooms.”
  • Mingle: presented delightful handcrafted sparkling mocktails; these are nonalcoholic with natural botanicals for use as mocktails or mixers. Flavors: Moscow Mule, Melon Mojito, Cranberry Cosmo, Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini.

Two of the most intriguing, innovative products were in the water category:

  • ASARASI presented USDA Organic water harvested from trees! Sparkling and still waters that are sustainable and renewable. The water is a bi-product after 100% of the sugar is removed from the maple sap.
  • O. Vine offered wine grape infused water- now there’s a combo of two of my favorite beverages! The delicious nose of white or red wine in a non-alcoholic, fresh clean still or sparkling water beverage.

Often the story behind the food is the compelling idea, and there were many fascinating tales of the founders and impetus behind products. Some were developed by desired to create healthy alternatives for children or for people with food intolerances, others were driven by social mission.

Ziba products from Afghanistan had two offerings at the Show:  Afghani Sun Dried Kandahar Figs and Shakhurbai Almonds– roasted & salted. They are “biodynamic superfoods, sustainably sourced, nutrient dense”; but perhaps more important is that they are dedicated to “improving the lives of women and farmers in Afghanistan.” The women and their photos are on the back of each package.

Want to know more? Send me a note or call.

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

laurie@practical-imagination.com

908-237-2246

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Musings: A riff on Pi, π 3.1415926… on a snowy March 14th
March 14, 2017

Happy Pi day!

Math Geeks, Princetonians and yours truly have a special fondness for this day, in honor of the Greek letter that represents the symbol for the ratio of a circle to its diameter. Pi is expressed as 3.14 with an infinite string of decimals trailing behind it. It’s that long string of decimals that make Pi such a fun challenge for the mathematically motivated to memorize and to calculate to more and more digits.

My emotional connection to Pi is that it’s the shorthand nickname for my business, Practical Imagination Enterprises. At PIE we think big and we drill deep. We stimulate our client and consumer teams to dream, engage imagination and intuition as we tackle business challenges. Then we drive the insights, stories, and ideas we gather into actionable strategies, tactics, product and communications concepts for our diverse set of clients. Our programs are custom-designed, collaborative and fun.

Now here are some more fun facts about Pi…

  • Pi is a Transcendental number, which is any number that is not an algebraic number.
  • It’s intriguing that Transcendental brings with it other realms of meaning –spiritual or non-physical world, visionary and idealistic.
  • One of the world’s greatest scientists, Albert Einstein, is a Pi baby, born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany. But he moved to Princeton, NJ in 1935 where he lived and worked for the Institute for Advanced Study until his death in 1955.
  • Princeton is a short jaunt from where I live and work. And among Princetonians, Pi day has long been a cause for celebration with many events scheduled, from the playful to the intellectual.

But on this Pi day the wind is howling, the snow and sleet falling outside my window.

It’s a good day to work indoors…and perhaps top it off with a tasty treat this evening of some hot chocolate and a slice of pie.

Happy Pi Day!

Drop me a line or give a call if you would like to know more about how we engage rational, logical, emotional and imaginative thinking to solve tough business problems.

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

laurie@practical-imagination.com

908-399-9460

Musings on The Right Ambiance…for Love and Meetings
February 13, 2012

If you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day you just might be thinking that special meal with your sweetheart will not be at the local diner, but a setting where the food is good, the lights are low, the music soothing, the ambiance encouraging to look into each other’s eyes and have intimate conversation.

In similar fashion, creating the right ambiance for a meeting when the goal is the exchange of information and ideas, is critically important. I’ve written and spoken about this at length over the years –it seems to be a topic of frequent interest among my colleagues and clients– so I will highlight 5 Top Tips for designing creative meeting spaces here, and offer another 5 in my next post.

  1. The power of the circle: set the room up for eye contact and democracy. A circle (like a campfire) or a U-Shape arrangement of chairs immediately signals a more intimate setting for people to be candid with each other.
  2. A room with a view…natural light supports us physically and helps prevent fatigue. And a glimpse of the outdoor world often helps to expand thinking and be more open-minded. A few years ago I ran an innovation session at an historical village with large windows on three sides of our room. We had a beautiful vista of snow-covered fields…and then a big surprise as two baby goats came right up to the windows. An unexpected source of inspiration for our project on new confectionary products!
  3. Comfortable chairs, and a variety of seating helps prevent “fanny fatigue” and keeps people more relaxed and engaged. If your meeting is longer than an hour, ask people to get up and move to another chair or couch in the room—it prevents getting stuck physically and mentally.
  4. Weave in some Music—whether you like Hip Hop or Opera, a little music interspersed through a workday can do a lot for a teams’ creativity and productivity. I like to use the music purposefully to add excitement or energy to an activity, or to help relax and put participants in a more reflective mood.
  5. Adding color and visual stimuli—whether it’s a wall full of pictures that can “inspire a thousand ideas” the ways words alone may not—or setting up colorful paper, crayons, markers and Post Its on the meeting table offers an invitation to doodle and express ideas in different modes.

Hope this offers you a little food for thought!

And have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

 

Laurie Tema-Lyn, Practical Imagination Enterprises, 908-237-2246, laurie@practical-imagination.com