Top industry trends are emerging at NCA's Sweets and Snacks Expo this week, as confectioners unveil new flavors such as maple syrup, specific varieties of apples, blood orange and s'mores, as well as customizable cookies, crackers and candies. Other new products include flavor mashups, functional products, jumbo shareable versions of iconic treats and "thin" cookies and biscuits.
A Georgia school district features a different local food on its menus each month as part of its farm-to-school program. This year that has included watermelon, apples, hydroponic bibb lettuce, cucumbers, kale, cabbage, zucchini and strawberries. Dairy and blueberry farmers have been visiting schools in the district to provide information about the agricultural process.
Rockit apples, which are crisp, red and golf-ball-sized, have seen success being marketed as a high-end convenience food and snack item, rather than just another produce option. The apples, grown in New Zealand, are packaged in clear plastic tubes to help them stand out from other apple varieties and are now sold in the U.S., Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the U.K. "Rockit was thinking outside the square, repositioning the total apple offering," said Steve Saunders, director of the firm Havelock North Fruit Company, which played a major role in the marketing strategy for Rockit apples.
A study found that people who shop when they are hungry may buy more calories, so nutritionist Dr. Lisa Young recommends having a healthy snack before going to the store. Some quick options include an apple with peanut butter, fruit with yogurt or cottage cheese, a cup of mixed vegetables with hummus, a fruit smoothie or whole-grain crackers and reduced-fat cheese.
Post Sesame Street Cereal, in apple or banana, has been introduced by Post Foods. The cereal, which provides two-thirds of a toddler's recommended whole-grain intake, is shaped in X's and O's that are easy for young fingers to hold.