With Americans eating out more, selling to foodservice is an important distribution channel for many food companies. Foodservice buyers from around the Northwest had the opportunity to interact with about 250 food and food equipment/business service companies at the Northwest Food Show (NWFS), April 14–15, 2019, in Portland, Oregon.
NWFS primarily featured Oregon and, to a lesser degree, Washington food companies. However, companies came from as far away as New York and Quebec.
Trends present in the larger food industry were also evident at the show, including gluten-free, plant-based, and sustainable. Perhaps the ultimate in sustainability was the edible tableware from Planeteer.
Highlighting gluten-free, vegan baked goods free of the top eight allergens, including soy and nuts, was Red Plate Foods. The company manufactures its non-GMO products in a dedicated facility in Bend, Oregon. They are available to bakeries, grocery stores, and foodservice. Also in Bend and using a dedicated top-eight-allergen-free facility for baking mixes is Josie’s Best Gluten-Free Mixes.
Another company with a dedicated gluten-free facility, in Vancouver, Washington, is Kember’s. The company sells baking mixes, ready-made dough, and spice blends. The non-GMO products are dairy- and nut-free and include egg-free options. Frozen gluten-free desserts, with a focus on cakes, were showcased by Gem City Fine Foods, West Valley, Utah. Featuring gluten-free bread was Jensen’s Bread Bakeries of Portland, Oregon.
In the plant-based category, Before the Butcher of Huntington Beach, California, exhibited their soon-to-be-available Uncut line of non-GMO soy-based burgers. The representative said most of the soy is sourced from South America because so little non-GMO soy is grown in the U.S. On the vegan cheese front was Good Planet Foods of Bellevue, Washington.
In a different vein, Blue Evolution’s mission is to “connect consumers to the oceans” through seaweed. Most seaweed eaten in North America is imported and dried. Blue Evolution is looking to change that situation with North American grown seaweed sold in non-dried forms, according to a company representative. The company grows seaweed at off-shore and on-shore farms in Alaska and Mexico. At NWFS, the company showcased its Alaskan kelp grown for foodservice and first harvested in 2018.
In the beverage category, two unique products stood out at the NWFS. The first was a new take on kombucha, KumbuchaYum of Lakewood, Washington. This organic kombucha is made with 9.5 alkaline water and contains moringa tea. It has a light, sparkling taste. The company representative said this kombucha was created to appeal to people who don’t like the strong fermented taste of most kombucha.
Colorado’s Best Drinks participated in the show with Sparkling CBD soda and Dram hemp sparkling water. Each 12-ounce can of soda — Cola, Lemonade, Ginger Ale, Black Cherry, and Root Beer — and can of sparkling water contains 20 mg of broad-spectrum hemp extract. The company started experimenting with CBD beverages about 1.5 years ago. They have been on the market about eight months and are available in restaurants, bars, and retail stores in 17 states. The still murky hemp/CBD laws in some states are a challenge to expanding distribution, according to the company representative. To introduce the product in a state, the company works directly with the state board that oversees hemp/CBD products.
The annual Northwest Food Show is the largest foodservice show in the Northwest.