Biodegradable chewing gum, chickpea desserts and cocoa bean-based drinks: all the foods awarded this year by a food fair focused on ecology and convenience.
Although SIAL (a major international food fair attended by several of my clients) was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has kept faith with tradition while still awarding its awards to the food of the future, most innovative products of the year. A "tradition that has been perpetuated for over 50 years".
A sector often accused of offering poor quality food, rich in fat, sugar or genetically modified ingredients, is moving towards eco-responsible social trends.
An ever greener table
Of the 500 new products tested, many impress me. From black garlic to meatballs in “meat-like”, the SIAL jury was struck by the products rich in vegetables, simpler and healthier, with fewer additives and linked to ethical, environmental and social values.
The gold medal for innovation went to some frozen gnocchi from Italian Bocon. Dumplings that contain 70% vegetables and a very short list of ingredients: spinach, spirulina, peas and green tea.
A French company, Triumph, instead won the bronze medal for his vegan chewing gum which contains no sugar or aspartame and breaks down within three weeks. It is made with natural rubber from the sapotillier tree. Good news for those who clean school desks and cinema seats, and obviously for the soles of our shoes.
We are still late on packaging
When it comes to packaging, however, the environmental transition has slowed significantly. We know the culprit well: it is plastic, which has had a strong comeback due to consumer fears arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fortunately, the trend towards the use of second-rate food products with new or strong tastes has helped to combat waste. For example, i biscuits made with the exhausted grain of the brewers.
And the Swiss company Koko Joo won the start-up award for a non-alcoholic cocoa bean drink.
Chickpeas, orange peels and pollen
The European Student Food Industry Prize was awarded to two young Portuguese for a aquafaba-based dessert, a viscous liquid obtained from cooking chickpeas and rich in proteins. They combined it with orange peels and bee pollen, among other ingredients.
"This fermented dessert combines sustainable development and health" thanks to the inclusion of pears and vegetables rich in carbohydrates that can be consumed by diabetics, he explained. Dominique Ladeveze, who coordinates the award.
"A future food trend among the younger generation is to take unappreciated ingredients and add value," he added.
So it was also for the second prize, won by a Greek team with a kind of flour breadstick made from olive pomace mixed with fruit and vegetables.
Food of the future: the new trends
The COVID crisis has reinforced several trends, including a push towards affordable food and meat substitutes, he said. Xavier Terlet, general manager of the Proteines XTC group which tracks market trends for SIAL.
He said that due to an expected economic slowdown, many of the products presented would be sold at the lowest possible price. The industry challenge "is to serve the largest number of people at the most competitive price," said Terlet.
Last thing worth noting: vegetable-based substitutes for meat and fish continue to be in vogue.
I still find it rather ironic. When you see all the effort being made to make meat substitutes look like meat, even if they are intended for a vegan clientele, you wonder why they go to such lengths to copy an animal product.