Organic Food Chef has a variety of flavors in this new release -- some hits, some misses -- but the cherry was outstanding, not-too-sweet and tasting of true, cherry-pie cherry. If the U.S. market can overlook the cloudy appearance from the rice -- which could actually be said to provide a quirky appeal -- the soda could be a hit.
It's worth noting two more beverage concepts presented at ATO. "Sence" rose essence "nectar" beverage, by Sence Inc. (www.sencenectar.com), Las Vegas, was too thin for a nectar, but makes one wonder if the influx of immigrants from western Asian countries such as India and Pakistan will have enough influence on American tastes.
This is the third rose-flavored beverage, and the sixth rose flavored item (three ice creams) I've seen released in the past year or so. Rose can be too perfumey to ingest for the mainstream, although the first rose item I reviewed (and one of Food Processing magazine's top ten releases of 2006) Ontario, Calif.-based Kool Freeze Inc.'s (www.koolfreeze.com) Faluda kali on a stick could make nearly anyone a convert.
The kicky "Java Pop," on display at the Green Mountain booth and flavored with organic, fair-trade coffee, was different from other attempts at the genre in that it was light, brisk and refreshing as opposed to cloddish and dyspeptic. It's easy to see Java Pop percolating to the top of the novelty pop pop charts in very short order. Look for the neo-retro bottles and logo to appear in 20 year-old and up hands everywhere as is likely to occur.
This brings to the forefront another trend on the forefront, the "cane sugar creep" of rebadging sugar as "cane juice," often with qualifying euphemisms like "dehydrated," "evaporated" and even "pure." This sugar "doublespeak" has become especially pernicious now that a number of processors are seeking replacements for the increasingly disfavored corn syrup-derived sweeteners. Hey, it's sugar, folks. (What's the truth about corn syrup, anyway? Check out "Nutrition Beyond the Trends: The Devil and High-Fructose Syrup" at, and look for a more comprehensive version on the same topic in the July issue of Food Processing.)
Don't give up on all cactus though. Agave, reported on in the April issue of Wellness Foods, "Nutrition Beyond the Trends: Sweet as Cactus", is growing in popularity in leaps and bounds. A number of foods, from bars to dressings to sauces, were on display using the sweetener from the tequila cactus.
"There's a need for agave-sweetened items, especially considering the alarming diabetes and obseity rates in general and among children," says Robert Schueller, director of communications for Melissa's World Variety Produce, Los Angeles (www.melissas.com). "Agave products taste great, whereas some other sugar substitutes have an unusual bite or aftertaste. It tastes just like sugar yet is 40 percent sweeter, so less is required to satisfy."
Melissa's, a pioneer in the mainstream application of agave as a sweetener, supplies 40 such retail products under its Good Life Food organic line. Even though the demand for agave is growing rapidly, Schueller notes that distribution is hard to find at this time, and at a high price due to said demand. But this will change as awareness of the product's benefits continues to spread.
Sweet things were certainly in abundance, but overall there was a welcome turn across all the shows at the Power of Five in this, its allegedly final year: Savory items are carving out a little more space. Only last year it seemed as if every offering in Fancy Food, ATO and FMI was a sweetened something. This year, more real food, more savory food and more wholesome food was well in evidence. Meat, too -- especially organic chicken -- was abundantly and diversely represented.
All Things Organic will return to Chicago April 27-29, 2008, along with the National Assn. for the Specialty Food Trade Inc.'s Fancy Food Show and the National Assn. of State Departments of Agriculture's (NASDA) U.S. Food Export Showcase.