Anuga 2015: food inspiration

There’s much more to Anuga innovation than the Taste 15 showcase, and so where to start among over 7000 exhibitors? Intrigued by Chicken Gelati, I headed to Hall 5 to track down its producer, the big Swiss meat group, Micarna….

CHICKEN Gelati, it turned out, is a prototype in test marketing – it’s aimed at the food service market, a funky take on Apero or tapas-type products. It comes in three flavours; caramel, tarragon (labelled ‘estragon’ – unfortunate descriptor if you’re English!) and curry with pineapple, and tastes like, well, very fine quality ice cream. The concept seemed to rest in novelty rather than protein and it would definitely be a talking point over any dinner table!

Swiss ChickornettoBut that was not all of fun to be seen at the Micarna stand… they were also showing off ‘Swiss Chickornettos’, not ice cream but a savoury emulation comprising Swiss cheese, chicken, mushrooms and dried tomatoes. Heated in the oven, they turn appetising brown and make scrummy eating.

Meat-Cheese-CandyBut perhaps its best idea was Meat and Cheese Candies, where air-dried beef meets mountain cheese in fine layers to emulate, yes again, but this time a layered candy. Very cool innovation; fun, beautifully novel way to use their core products and most important, a great taste. This could be a winner, in the kids’ lunchbox or as a novel tapas/apperitif.

In between snacking on the best-ever-food-in-the-world, Iberico jamon from Spain, it was time to move onto the giant dairy hall which in Anuga’s past has always yielded some rewarding innovation. Hmmm, not so obvious on this visit in terms of aisle-stopping stuff. Interestingly, what did turn the head were two Scandinavian egg producers (yes, in dairy) who have tapped into the convenience and protein trends du jour.

Fun with eggs

DAVA Foods egg shakerAt the DAVA Foods ( stand, what first caught my attention was its Shaker range, an easy-do solution for consumers to make pancakes, waffles, scrambled egg etc. The bottom half of the shaker contains the egg mixture, and the lid contains the flour mix, sugar, or bacon. The product has an 8-week shelf life unopened. Takes but a little effort on the buyer’s behalf, and a great way for DAVA to add huge value to its commodity product. It’s available in five variants: pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon, wholegrain pancakes and creme brulee. Here’s that convenience trend again….

White protein drinkNot short of other ideas, DAVA has also launched ‘White’, a range of flavoured pure egg white/protein supplement/drinks (22g per 220ml at less than 150 cals) to leverage the protein trend. Variants include strawberry, vanilla, pomegranate and tropical.

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Laitilan Proegg SmoothieNot too far away was Finnish company, Munax, with ‘Laitilan Proegg’ a protein smoothie that’s a mix of pasteurised egg white, as well as blueberry puree, sweetened with fruit concentrates, added fibre and stevia. It boasts 16g protein per 200ml, and is packaged in Elopak cartons.

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EggyplayBack to DAVA Foods …. it was also promoting “eggyplay”, its colourful range of plastic egg boxes with dual functionality. In addition to protecting and storing eggs, the boxes can be reused as a toy. Completely child-friendly, and made from enviro-friendly moulded plastic, the boxes interconnect and can be safely stacked like building blocks.

Yummy Yollies

YolliesOne Taste 15 winner in the dairy category that I did want to try out was Yollies, devised by Ireland’s Kerry Group.

Claimed as a “world first”, Yollies is not a frozen product but is chilled, extra-thick solid yoghurt on a stick. They are packaged in “stay-fresh pods” to retain their shape.

Yollies are sold in packs of four and are made using real fruit puree. They contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Flavours available include raspberry, strawberry and apricot. Very innovative, fresh way to encourage kid consumption of healthy yoghurt.

I was also interested to have my first-ever sample of Kerry’s famous Cheesestrings, mozzarella-type cheese brand aimed at kids – the cheese is heated and stretched into spaghetti-like shape, and has been a huge success in various European markets over the past 20 years or so. Would be a great addition to SA’s dairy shelves.

Snack attack

Snacking, snacking, snacking… the whole world loves snacking and quick-easy eats featured at Anuga 2015 in abundance across every category. Here are some that took my fancy…

Tapas snacks PopTato Chips Potato Dippers
Tapas-type meat snacks, cured meats and sausauges of utmost delicacy, are ubiquitous in Europe. I liked an option by Spanish company, Calet: strip packs of pre-sliced serrano ham, chorizo etc, that have been HPP processed and so can be merchandised out of the chiller. Very tempting at the checkout queue.

PoPtato low-fat, pressure-and-heat popped chips are made in Italy and 80% lower in fat than regular options. They’re also organic. Hmm, not the scrummiest chips I’ve ever tasted, but without the fat they wouldn’t be!

In the frozen food hall, potato in a dizzying number of formats was on display. Prominent were ‘potato dippers’ – a superb option for these reasons:

• Sharing dishes, tasting menus
• Exciting and fun meal experience
• Familiar taste in original format
• Small portions, lighter eating
• Finger food, dipping and scooping

broccoli chips Veggie snacks  Coconut chips

The Thailand pavillion revealed some excellent, if not unlikely, fruit/veg chips. Broccoli, pumpkin, okra, onion? No problem – just apply vacuum frying technology and it seems anything is possible.

It was astonishing to see extensive ranges of vegetarian and vegan snacks and meals, many of them the work of big meat companies. Meat analogues and veggie alternatives are definitely moving centre stage. My snack of Anuga 2015: many options of Thai-made coconut chips. They are loaded with the most delicious flavour – both natural and spicy variants – and crispiness: please someone bring them to SA! And low carb, too…

Now let’s go to the UK!

Britain has given the world some of the very best inventors, and this spirit remains in its food-drinks sectors. Or so I witnessed at Anuga 2015’s UK Fine Foods Pavillion. A few highlights….

Gourmet popcornJoe & Seph’s gourmet popcorn is a family business who launched in 2010 with a mission to produce the best tasting popcorn in the world. All of it is handmade in London by a small team of pastry chefs, and it now has a range of over 40 flavours of gourmet popcorn. Really yummy, with a pile of Great Taste Awards as testimony.

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Cauli RiceCauli Rice: I was thrilled to meet Cauli Rice and its founders, Gem and Jamie Harris, face-to-face. This is the first long-life, easy-cook cauliflower rice, and designed to help anyone looking for a viable carb substitute, and to up veggie intake.

After three years developing the product, and two rounds of crowd funding, Cauli Rice was launched in September 2015. Just as wholesome as homemade cauliflower rice (preservative-free, gluten-free and vegan) it is the first long-life cauliflower rice available on the global market.

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SugaVidaSugaVida: I had an intriguing half hour hearing about this ‘new’ sugar alternative from its co-founder, Max von Berg, a well-known UK food champion and former restaurant critic. He’s absolutely passionate about SugaVida – translates to “Sugar of Life” – that’s ‘100% pure, unrefined nectar’ of Borassus flabellifer (Palmyra tree).

Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, SugaVida is claimed as the only superfood sweetener found in nature and the only plant-based bio-available source of Vitamin B12, making it essential to any vegan, vegetarian and those lacking Vitamin B12.

An alternative to sugar and other sweeteners in drinks, cooking, baking and anywhere you would normally use sugar, SugaVida offers these other attractive qualities:

  • Use 50% less than sugar
  • Low glycemic index of 40
  • Both alkaline and alkalising

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Israeli innovation

FOODStuff SA reported back in February on some extraordinary start-up food techs in israel, and I was hoping I might meet some of them at Anuga 2015. This was not to be, who knows why, but I did find these interesting products:

Seedborne MayoSeedBorn is a mayonnaise alternative, in a squeezable bottle, made from just a single ingredient: sesame, a hugely popular food ingredient in the Middle East. Developed by Rushdi Food Industries, it helps address the current egg crisis in various markets, and is full of health, flavour and high-value nutrients.

Some innovative packaging was to be found in a new line of healthy, salt-roasted nuts — peanuts, cashews, almonds and peeled pistachios —  developed by PNUTS&FRUITS. The products are packed using nitrogen instead of preservatives to keep product freshness up to seven months. Salted with natural Red Sea salt, potato starch is used instead of the more common wheat flour to coat the salt to the nuts, making the product gluten-free.

Fantastic frozen

The frozen food halls, over 500 exhibitors on two floors of Hall 4, made for a excellent few hours, complete with delectable pickings for this journalist searching out some lunch.

Follow FishWho said frozen is on its way out, giving way to chilled and fresh? Not at Anuga! Every imaginable frozen food was on offer – and most of it absolutely delicious, and with no ill effect from being frozen.

In fact, it would have been hard to find any lousy or inferior food-drink offerings at Anuga – there was an prevailing sense that the food bar has been raised significantly in recent years: top-notch branding, packaging and food quality are a given. Step up or go home. A perfect example is this stunning frozen food packaging from German company, FollowFish (