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Oh! Canada

An exciting assortment of new foods were on display at SIAL in Toronto.


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Thousands of retail buyers descended upon Toronto’s Enercare Centre in early May for the annual SIAL Canada convention where they experienced a cornucopia of traditional, ethnic, gourmet and new and noteworthy foods from throughout Canada, the U.S, Europe and other parts of the world.

At the very center of the show’s front aisle, Abigail Abjetey was telling showgoers to “Have a peachy day,” while carefully plating slices of canned peaches imported from Greece to sample. “These peaches are a joint project sponsored by Greece and the European Union, and they come available in halves, wholes and slices,” she said.

By talking with Michalis Lichounas, export commercial director at Kronos S.A., a canner based in Skydra, Greece, they would learn that peaches have been grown in Greece since the time of Alexander the Great, and that the country best known for olives is actually the third-largest peach producer in the E.U. and fifth largest worldwide. “We are here to assist our agents and find some new clients,” he said. “The vast majority of our business here and in the U.S. is in private label. Depending on the weather, we are a good source for when U.S. growers have a weak crop.” 

​Wajdi Ben Frej, president of Montreal-based Agromed, was showcasing his company’s Oriviera Organic line of olive oils imported from Tunisia. “We are a family group that controls the entire process, so the retailer and consumer can be assured that they are getting a pure, high quality olive oil,” he said. “We guarantee the origin is from Tunisia and it is top-quality. We are introducing an organic version, and it is available in a 3-liter tin for foodservice.”

Officials from Jan. K. Overweel Limited, based in Woodbridge, Ont., Canada, were displaying a wide variety of cheeses, cured meats, cookies and coffee at their booth. “For export to the U.S. we have Oak Manor Stilton from England; Gorgonzola from Gorgonzola, Italy; Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy; Emmental from Switzerland; and Pecorino from Tuscany, Italy. They are all ‘product of’ that country, so they are all 100-percent ingredients from that country,” said Giovanna Varricchione, marketing director. 

Unfortunately for Americans, the light-as-air, melt-in-your-mouth delectable imported Italian pastry puffs that Jan K. Overweel also imports cannot be sold in the U.S. because they are marketed under the name Milano. “The Milano brand is a Canadian patent, and Pepperidge Farm owns the Milano brand in the U.S.,” she explained.   

Luckily, the Expresco ProSticks Grilled Chicken Skewers snacks manufactured by Montreal-based Expresco Foods are being sold stateside. “We introduced them in October to several markets, including Safeway, Jewel and Food Lion,” said Jaime Galaviz, director of sales. Packaged two to a container and available in three varieties (Mediterranean-Style, Chipotle-Style and Sweet Siracha-Style), the refrigerated snacks pack 23 grams of protein per serving, are made with chicken breast and contain no preservatives. “They are microwavable and ready in just 30 seconds, but can be eaten cold too. We are really a healthier version than a beef jerky, very low in sodium with a very clean deck,” said Galaviz.

People were lining up to sample the melt-in-your-mouth duck foie gras being sautéed at the Canards Du Lac Brome Ltée booth, a Knowlton, Que.-based manufacturer of duck products, including frozen duck pot pies, hors d’ouevres and entrées, as well as fresh duck. “The fresh legs, breast and whole duck are sold at Stop & Shop in the New England and New York areas, as well as Giant. We ship down every week,” said Bruno Giuliani, vice president, sales and marketing. 

Retailers may wish to cross-merchandise those duck breasts across from a few tubs of margarine from Trois-Rivieres, Que.-based Margarine Thibault, available in tubs of Olive Oil, Omega-3 and Light varieties, and sold in the U.S. under private label and controlled brands. “We are healthier than regular margarine because we took all of the best traits that can sometimes be one at a time in one product and lumped them all together,” said Nicolas Adam, executive vice president, Bergeron-Thibault Group. “They are all high in omega-3, GMO-free, vegan, which can be tricky with margarines because of the vitamin A and vitamin D, and have single-source palm oil and expeller pressed canola oil.”  

Originally from the U.K., American retailers can expect to see more exotic juices and carbonated drinks from Rubicon hitting their shelves now that the company has established a plant in Richmond Hill, Ont. “We have been exporting to the U.S., and our new non-sugar-added products are growing amazingly fast,” said Masud Sethi, key account manager for Rubicon Food Products Limited. Lychee, Mango, Pomegranate, Passionfruit, Guava and Soursop are some of the flavors offered. “Depending on the chain we can be sold in the soft drinks or ethnic aisles,” he said.     

Organic energy drink company Guru Beverage was at the show touting its energy drinks and sparkling energy water. Packaged in 355-ml cans, Guru Energy Water is available in Pomegranate, Lime and Grapefruit flavors. “We are made with green tea extract, which naturally has caffeine to give you energy, along with guarana,” said Catherine Michaud, account manager in the Montreal office of the San Francisco-based company.

Officials at The Black Shank were using SIAL Toronto to promote their line of flavored maple syrups, available in 15 varieties, including Pear, Pineapple, Chili Pepper, Tangerine and Hazelnut. “The syrups are naturally flavored and were mainly developed for cooking,” said Steve Perron, international sales manager at The Black Shank, based in St. Ferdinand, Que. “They can be used as a finishing sauce at the very end. It brings the sweetness of the maple. Our Raspberry is very good drizzled on salmon, while the Hazelnut is really good in coffee or mixed half and half with oil to make a terrific salad dressing.”    

Sprouted in Iowa

Several American manufacturers had a presence at the show. 

Officials at Bio-Kinetics, based in Sheldon, Iowa, were promoting their Living Flour sprouted grains, available in Sprouted Flax, Sprouted Wheat, Sprouted Barley, Sprouted Brown Rice and Sprouted Multigrain varieties. They also make a line of Baby Cereal made from sprouted grains in Oats, Wheat, Brown Rice, Quinoa and Buckwheat varieties. 

“The Baby Cereal provides kids with 100 percent of the nutrition that they need on a daily basis,” said Naum Bespaly, sales director. “We are considered to be one of the ‘cleanest’ products and everything is done under kosher supervision. Health-wise, a standard flour cannot compare. The grain is sprouted and then dehydrated and ground.  Our Living Flour is ground and can be added to meats, used in baking and for any other use where one would use flour.” 

At the U.S. Pavilion, Brian Golinvaux, president of Chicago-based Lillie’s Q Sauces & Ribs, was talking up retailers about what sets his line of barbecue sauces apart from the competition. “We have a northern Alabama white sauce, a South Carolina mustard sauce and western Carolina, which has tomato. All Carolina sauces are going to be vinegar based, so they are a little bit thinner, and we do Memphis sauces too.”

The brand is packaged in distinctive glass bottles, reminiscent of vinegar or old-fashioned apothecary containers.

“Our packaging is distinctive because barbecue sauce is primarily all the same color, and nine times out of 10 they are in the same three bottles,” Golinvaux said. “We do a simplistic, less-is-more approach with everything from our simplistic throwback label, to the hand applied wax seal.”

Drinking vinegars are one of the hottest trends, and officials from Shire City Herbal were touting their Fire Cider brand of organic apple cider vinegar infused with honey, fruits, roots and spices. “We recommend you take at least a tablespoon a day, and a lot of people are mixing it with juice, tea or lemon water,” said Caitlin Porter Loverin, marketing coordinator for the Pittsfield, Mass.-based company. “We sell Fire Cider in 8- and 16-ounce bottles, and growlers, half-gallons and gallons for foodservice, like juice bars. A lot of bars are using it for innovative cocktails and mocktails and restaurants have started using it for things like Bloody Marys,” she said.     

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