I came away from Sial questioning how genuinely inspiring I had found the show. While there were pockets of genius, there was a lot of sameness - and very few breakthroughs with mainstream, scaleable potential.
So what was different? Three themes stood out: experiential eating, ‘simple natural’ and raw or barely cooked.
New experiences were being introduced in confectionery, gourmet foods and drinks. These were as much about the experience and technology as brand innovation and are likely to appeal to both young and old.
Foams and air sprays, ranging from Britvic’s Tango Blast to WA HH (that’s the brand name) mind perfumes, and FUN Aero Shots of spray energy, were all new and different. Sprays were a growing focus outside confectionery too, from spray-on liquid salt and Saffron water to yet more sprayable fats.
” Three themes stood out: experiential, natural and raw”
I loved the PerlaNova technology, which created alginate balls like caviar from balsamic vinegars. Mousses were also being explored by Aperimousse.
Textural mix-ups are a definite trend. They’re easy to deliver upon, both economically and with good theatre, from small tapas-type trays and premium frozen gourmet pastas to salads with dips and sauces on the side.
Most of the new energy drinks were much of a muchness, but Bert Jukes’ Little Big Shot and ColdPress stood out. The former is made with 100% fruit, no caffeine or taurine and with deep ocean mineral water - an interesting, emerging area.
The ColdPress Pink Lady and Granny Smith juices tasted incredible. You have to hand it to ColdPress for launching the first juices in the UK that have been pressure pasteurised with no heat. This is a genuinely new technology that delivers a better, more natural-tasting juice, with the added advantage of a longer shelf life. The scope to extend this technology into new categories seems endless, but it needs segmenting to occasions and and with a clear positioning or its true potential could get lost.
Whether to address the healthy kids’ foods or the premium adult snacking markets, there were plenty of new raw or barely cooked products on display.
Gourmie’s Raw Food bars were delicious and naturally nutritious. The raw food movement has been talked about for some time now could be its moment.
The world foods mostly lacked stand out, but there were some areas like, dips, chutneys and spreads and rice-based products that brought new and alternative choices in quite safe and established categories.
Forecourt-style snacks are usually pretty dismal, so it was also great to see brands like Boboli really stretching their bread-based hot and cold-eating snacks to deliver a better quality eat, miles away from pappy microwave burgers.
A special mention has to go to Fresh Marketing for its Fuel energy cereal. Inspired by a retailer to address a gap in the category, this brand was driven by passionate, entrepreneurial types that really wanted to succeed and managed to deliver a new product to store within six weeks. How nimble was that?
Claire Nuttall is founding partner of Thrive