The Grocery & Specialty Food West 2018 (GSF West 2018) show took place last week in Vancouver, offering grocery industry members to experience the potential future of grocery goods as presented by a number of distributors and independent brands. Featuring its largest show yet, the show took over 2 exhibition halls at the Vancouver Convention Centre West and featured a trade show in addition to conferencing and networking opportunities. I was a lucky media participant and came away from the show with my top 5 foods I can't wait to find at grocers and drug stores.
Disclosure: I was given media accreditation to cover this event. All opinions are my own.
Remember, this is a top 5 of my personal favourites. When it comes to grocery goods, I'm a guy who:
- Loves unique packaging
- Has a penchant for the snack aisle
- Is lactose-intolerant
The above might make me a basic guilty food pleasure shopper, but that's why when I heard of new products being featured not yet in stores, I knew I wanted to visit GSF West. My top 5 are as follows:
- Desi-licious Kulfi - Pista Passion
- Campbell's Chunky Butter Chicken and Vegetables
- KitKat Caramel Crisp, Cookie Crumble, Hazelnut Crunch, and Green Tea
- Trace Revitalizing Beverages
- R.J.T Freeze Dried Blueberries
The lactose-intolerant heart in me sang when I experienced the Indian style of ice cream by Desi-licious. It really did taste like regular grocery brand ice cream – none of this sorbet or coconut substitute. Using lactase enzyme to counter the lactose is genius (and actually why I love Lactantia's Lactose-Free Milk too) and the pistachio was a pleasant flavour to boot.
Desi-licious Kulfi - Pista Passion
Campbell's is back with a new flavour and this time it's Butter Chicken and Vegetables. For a can, I think this might almost pass for fast food curry, and that to me is a win. Indian food isn't always available, and especially not as readily as in a can. It'll be great if Campbell's could expand to more traditional curries such as my favourite, tikka masala.
Campbell's - Chunky Butter Chicken and Vegetables
I had to include a chocolate flavour, and when I saw KitKat was releasing new flavours, I was ecstatic. There's a new green tea flavour along with cookie crumble, hazelnut crunch, and caramel crisp. Out of the three, caramel crisp was my favourite with its slight gooeyness that still kept the traditional KitKat crunch (sorry, got nothing for you KitKat Chunky fans).
KitKat - New Flavours
What might be a more curious choice is the inclusion of Trace on the list. This brand produces revitalizing beverages that look like black liquid but taste like water. Results would be hard to measure from a single drink, but the girl who gave me a sample implored that her experience included the reduction of migraines after she begun drinking Trace. This would be something cool to test if I was fighting any bodily issues.
Trace Revitalizing Beverages
Last but not least, my favourite of the entire show was the discovery of R.J.T Blueberry Park Inc.'s freeze-dried blueberries. This Aldergrove-based farm has ties to Japan and at this show, were promoting their freeze-dried blueberries and cranberry packages. As a big fan of freeze-dried fruits, I loved how whole the blueberries were. Usually the blueberries look shrivelled and small by the time the process is complete. And to find they are just down the highway in Aldergrove, I'm thinking I could just skip the grocery store if I can't wait for my next sample of these delicious treats.
R.J.T Blueberry Park - Freeze-Dried Blueberries
The Grocery and Specialty Food West 2018 show took up a huge space at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Even if you were a repeat visitor, there was a huge amount to discover, such as the New Product Showcase, Grocery Top 10, and a whole row of first-time vendors making their mark. It was still a treat to get to know the hype in grocery products both new and old. Some of the vendors were huge and offered generous samples of their entire product lineup.
Inside GSF West 2018
One-liner: A 2-day extravaganza conference showing the best way to see product trends and increase one's business appeal in the grocery product industry
Highlight: R.J.T Freeze-Dried Blueberries, a local treat
Would I go back? Yes.