Winter Fancy Food Show ’14: Decadence, Health – How About Both?

It’s a given that attendees of the Fancy Food Show will encounter lip-smacking and indulgent flavors, often sourced from exotic locales, and infused into products that come with a premium price point — it’s called “fancy” for a reason, right? Think sriracha jam, salted caramel mustard sauce, cheese washed in Trappist monk-brewed beer — all of which was showcased at the recent event, held earlier this week in San Francisco.

That doesn’t mean, however, that food and beverage producers are dim about the overall consumer shift toward healthier living. The beverage industry, in particular, has been inundated with calls for reductions in calorie and sugar content. Changing attitudes have given rise to a wave of new natural brands, many of which feature functionality, occasionally at the expense of flavor (despite marketers’ best efforts, there are many who simply can’t stand the vinegary taste of kombucha.)

But can you have the best of both worlds? Certainly, some beverage companies think so, and several of those exhibiting at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show showcased new products aimed at health-focused consumers with a discerning palate.

Califia Farms, for one, introduced a new 10.5 oz. PET package for its cold brewed iced coffee and almond milk beverages. The soy- and dairy-free drinks come in three decadently-named varieties — Cocoa Noir, Salted Caramel and Double Espresso — with each clocking in at 110-120 calories per bottle. The products contain 4.5 grams of total fat, none of which is saturated, and as with Califia’s 48 oz. iced coffee line, the beverages are good sources of calcium and vitamins D, B12 and E.

Califia also debuted a new protein line for its almond milk brand. Packaged in 10.5 oz. bottles, the beverages come in two SKUs — Vanilla and Chocolate — and contain 8 grams of protein sourced from milk protein isolate and whey. With packaging that calls out the drinks’ soy- and lactose-free formulation, Califia also claims that the products have “50 percent more calcium than milk.” Each variety contains has 130-140 calories per bottle, and while the chocolate flavor does include 0.5 grams of saturated fat, the beverages feature a similar nutritional content to the company’s iced coffee drinks.

With the products set to launch in Whole Foods locations on the East and West Coasts, Califia will introduce a national rollout of a new 10.5 oz. size for its squeezed juice line beginning in March. The smaller sizes will also debut in Whole Foods and come in four varieties — Limeade, Orange Juice, Tangerine and Lemonade — and are marketed as “California Citrus Juices.” While Califia sweetens its Lemonade with cane sugar and its Limade with cane sugar and monk fruit extract, its orange and tangerine juices contain no added sugar or sweeteners.

ITO EN is another company, which like Califia, showcased a new line of products intended to offer premium taste packaged with high quality, health-oriented ingredients. The Japanese company, which is the world’s largest producer of green tea, unveiled its new Matcha Love brand. Described as “a modern take on an ancient ritual,” ITO EN has introduced a multi-pronged retail approach to Matcha Love, with a ready-to-drink offering, a powdered matcha product and a brick and mortar, store-within-a-store concept.