Better-for-you foods and big bold flavors steal the spotlight at NRA Show, Sweets & Snacks Expo

Clean ingredients, spicy flavors and better-for-you foods topped the trends at the National Restaurant Association’s annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (NRA Show) in Chicago on May 20-23. Nearly a dozen specialty cheese producers showcased their latest offerings in conjunction with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, which provided materials on “merchandising ideas that sell” (check out Pine River, which produces cold-pack cheese spreads, unveiled its new Ghost Pepper flavor as well as Hot Habanero. Sincerely, Brigitte proved to be a popular stop for its Wasabi Cheese, Jalapeno Cilantro Cheese and Tarragon Ginger Cheese.

After finding success with its 100 Percent Pure Avocado Oil, Chosen Foods introduced its launch into condiments with Coconut Oil Mayo, Wasabi Avocado Oil Mayo and Harissa Avocado Oil Mayo. Meanwhile, the FABI-award winning Beyond Burger (fromBeyond Meat) made a splash after it was featured on Chicago’s local WGN news broadcast during its coverage of the NRA Show. The completely plant-based burger is meant to look, cook and taste like fresh ground beef but is 100 percent vegan, non-GMO and packs a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving.

The Sweets & Snacks Expo, sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, also took place inside Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center, from May 23-25. Innovations abound at every corner as manufacturers released better-for-you innovations in the cooking process and ingredients as well as loud bold flavors and packaging to match.

Jelly Belly unveiled its new Krispy Kreme Doughnuts line, with flavors reminiscent of the popular glazed doughnut. The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg introduced retailers to its hand-roasted and seasoned Virginia peanuts with on-trend seasonings like Hot Sriracha, Hot Wasabi and Bacon & Cheddar. Sunshine Nut Co. unveiled new packaging with brighter colors that draw attention to its back-of-package story, which outlines its philanthropic mission. Annie B’s Popcorn and Caramels launched a 1-Pound Caramel Apple Kit in Original and Pumpkin Spice flavors, allowing customers to easily and quickly create caramel apples come the fall season. Finally, Lady Walton’s revealed new flavors in its wafer and stroopwafels line, such as Peppermint drizzled with candy cane bits for the holidays.

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