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Friday, September 30, 2011
Expo East Wrap-Up: Part 1

Last week I attended Natural Products ExpoEast in Baltimore, MD. For those of you unfamiliar with ExpoEast, this is one of the premier natural foods shows in the entire country. Organized by New Hope Natural Media, "The show engaged over 20,000 industry members, representing 80 countries, and the show floor comprised of 1,450 exhibits." Although not every exhibitor was gluten-free, I can say without reservation that gluten-free was one of the most popular themes at the Expo.

This show is no joke. When I first walked into the Baltimore Convention Center, I was overwhelmed with the sheer size of the building and the layout of the Expo. Once I got my bearings, I started in the New Product Pavilion. This was the perfect way to start the show. These vendors were all launching new products to the natural foods market. The gluten-free, new product stand-outs included:

  • Catalyst Gourmet: "All Natural, Gluten-Free, Artisan, Innovative Gourmet Blends."  According to founder Kaushika Patel, it is not uncommon to say "WOW" when you smell these blends. I did just that when I smelled the Enchanted Chai blend. Adding some to a sample of apple cider, it tasted as good as it smelled. The packaging was cute too! These would make a wonderful gift for your favorite chef.
  • Sheffa Savory Bars: These bars caught me totally off-guard, in a good way. Almost all of the gluten-free bars on the market these days are sweet and nutty. These bars were the exact opposite. They were savory and full of flavorful herbs and spices. As soon as these hit the shelves, I plan on eating these again. They are due out later this year.  

    Next up was the ExpoEast exhibit floor. Whoa... Yep, over 1,400 booths in one building. This was truly the mecca of all food shows I have ever been to in my life. (Rumor has it that ExpoWest is even bigger) There are just so many amazing gluten-free products both new to the market and new-to-me to report on. There were also a handful of gluten-free importers that I want to keep an eye on as well. For this blog post, I am focusing on the new products only. New-to-me and imports will be posted next week.

    My gluten-free highlights include:
    • Mareblu Naturals Almond Rice Pops: "wholesome rice crisps, crunchy roasted almonds and sweet dried blueberries." Think puffed rice treats with almonds and blueberries. This snack comes in a huge bag which can be purchased directly through the website.
    • Wan Ja Shan Asian Sauces: A new line of organic, gluten-free sauces including organic Worcestershire sauce, organic Ponzu (citrus seasoned soy sauce), organic wheat-free tamari, and organic low-sodium wheat-free tamari. Please note that not all of Wan Ja Shan sauces are gluten-free so be sure to read the label. I was most excited about the organic Ponzu product, although I didn't try any of these sauces at the show. 
    • Dr. Schar Frozen Pizza: That's right, you will soon have another great Schar product to enjoy. Although I didn't try the pizza, I have never tasted a Dr. Schar product that I didn't like. I am sure this pizza will be another new favorite of mine. This frozen gluten-free pizza should be on the shelves soon.
    • Mama Jess: Organic "kids" pasta sauce. I put kids in quotes because that is how Mama Jess markets itself but I would definitely suggest this sauce to anyone who is looking for an organic pasta sauce without sugar. The Bean Good sauce is vegan, gluten-free, and made from a northern bean puree. The Garden Good sauce is chock full of veggies. I have to admit, I first stopped by the Mama Jess booth because I loved the logo and my lovely sister is also a mama named Jess and I wanted to text a picture of their booth to my sister. I was not disappointed that I stopped by, these sauces are delicious. 
    • Udi's Gluten-Free Muffin Tops and Frozen Pizza: Udi's is expanding their popular gluten-free line with new products later this fall. The Blueberry Oat Nutri-Tops are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. They also have 5g of fiber, 2g of protein, and only 130 calories per muffin top. The frozen pizzas are coming in three flavors including Pepperoni Pizza, Margherita Pizza, and Three Cheese Pizza. 
    • Chobani: The Greek yogurt favorite is adding three new flavors to their line this fall including apple cinnamon, blood orange, and passion fruit. I tried the apple cinnamon and felt like I was eating apple pie with yogurt. I was pleasantly surprised by the chunks of apples and the cinnamon swirl. This felt like dessert in a cup. I love Chobani and they certainly have another big hit on their plate! 

      Stay tuned for even more products from ExpoEast next week including gluten-free veggie burgers, bagel chips, wraps, and more!

      Expo East Mosaic
      1. Catalyst Gourmet, 2. Savory Bars from Sheffa, 3. Udi's Nutri Tops, 4. Udi's Frozen Pizza, 5. Almond Rice Pops, 6. Wan Ja Shan GF Sauces, 7. Mama Jess GF Sauce, 8. Natural Products Expo East

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