Feast in the East at Baltimore’s Natural Products Expo

There will be no shortage of innovative frozen cuisine on the scene at Natural Products Expo East, running from September 17-19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland. Organizers of the annual natural, organic and healthy products extravaganza expect to receive over 22,000 visitors keen on checking out products from more than 1,800 exhibitors, of which approximately 30% will be exhibiting at the venue for the first time.

Produced by New Hope Natural Media, the show is co-located with Biofach America-All Things Organic, NPA East and the Harvest Festival. From New York to California and numerous points between the coasts with spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties and fruited plains, American ice cream makers shine brightly among the exhibition’s star attractions.

At Booth #516, the crew from Brooklyn, New York-based Blue Marble Ice Cream will be dishing out certified organic ice cream native to New York City. Founded in 2007, the company says it was in the vanguard of Brooklyn’s contemporary artisanal food movement. All of its products are free of artificial ingredients, hormones, antibiotics and pesticides.

The Blue Marble line ranges from bulk tubs and 2.5-gallon bag-in-box containers of chocolate and vanilla soft-serve ice cream base mix, to 3.5-ounce single-serving size "Mini Cups" containing vanilla, chocolate and sea salt caramel flavors (promoted as “perfect for dessert on-the-go,” to 14-ounce cups filled with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, cookies & cream, green tea, midnight mint cookie, Mexican chocolate, butter pecan and pumpkin flavors.

For more proof that Brooklyn is churning out the cool, wander over to Stand #657. That’s where Phin & Phebes Ice Cream personnel will be serving samples formulated to “to tap into your inner child and appeal to ice cream lovers of all ages.”

Phin Phebes With Fluffnut contentThe first ice cream flavor perfected by Phin & Phebes (aka Jess and Crista) was inspired by Ritz cracker sandwiches filled with marshmallow and peanut butter, cranked up a notch with a covering of caramel and chocolate and then broken up into a sweet cream base. The result, "Fluffnut," is also now the name of their ice cream-loving dog.

The super-premium, all-natural assortment includes Banana Whama (banana pudding ice cream with chunks of vanilla wafers); Coconut & Key Lime Ice Cream with Graham Cracker Chunks; Ginger Cookie Snap (ginger ice cream plus ginger cookies with lemon icing filling); Vietnamese Iced Coffee (spiced with a hint of cardamom); Dark Chocolate Salty Caramel (no description required) and Peanutty Pretzel (peanut butter ice cream with slightly salty pretzels covered in chocolate).

The latest scoop and scoops from Brio Ice Cream will be found at Booth #8805. Distributed by Montpelier, Vermont-based Nutricopia, Inc., the product range is made with whole milk sourced from Wisconsin dairies combined with Madagascar vanilla, organic salted caramel, real coffee, dark cocoa, strawberries and Alphonso mangos.

“We named it Brio, which means vitality, vigor and energy," said Arnie Kass, president and co-founder of the company. “Certified gluten-free and non-GMO, it has half the total fat of super-premium ice cream, 65% less saturated fat, 75% less cholesterol and approximately 25% fewer calories, and has a low glycemic index.”

The headliner at the Oregon Ice Cream Co. booth (#657) will be the Camas, Washington-headquartered company’s Alden’s Ice Cream array of USDA-certified organic frozen confectionery. Promoted as the “first organic family size” and “best selling organic ice cream in natural food stores,” offerings in the range include Butter Brittle, Peaches & Cream, Vanilla Bean, Birthday Cake, Mint Chip and Blackberry.

3twinsMochaDifferenceThree Twins Mocha Difference is an organic ice cream loaded with caffeinated coffee and flecks of dark chocolate.Folks from Petaluma, California-based Three Twins Ice Cream will showcase a growing retail line of organic ice cream offerings at Booth #437. Distributed in pint containers priced at no more than $4.99, some 21 flavors are offered. Among them are Chocolate Orange Confetti, Mocha Difference, Dad’s Cardamom, Madagascar Vanilla and Lemon Cookie.

Three Twins also offers six flavors in single-serve cups and quart containers. By combining USDA-stamped organic ingredients, including milk and cream sourced from family farms within a short distance of two production plants, the company says it is “reinventing ice cream with fresh, creative, mouth-watering flavors.”

A portion of receipts from each sale is donated to the Global Wildlife Conservation non-profit group, in collaboration with the 1% for the Planet organization. In support of another charitable cause, Three Twins created Ice Cream for Acres in 2011. The land conservation initiative has preserved nearly 130,680,000 square feet of land t date.

Representatives from Graeter’s Ice Cream will be dispensing hand-crafted products at Booth #3206. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, since 1870, the family-owned and -operated company eschews automated manufacturing techniques that employ voluminous vats and robotic whipping machines in favor of making small batches of thick, creamy ice cream in two-gallon French pot freezers.

elena-blueberry 4-3Named in honor of Elena Desserich, whose life was cut short by cancer, Elena’s Blueberry Pie is the most meaningful flavor in Graeter’s ice cream range. Proceeds from the sale of each unit benefit The Cure Starts Now Foundation.Among its classic flavors are butter pecan and Dutch milk chocolate. Twelve signature chocolate chip varieties are on the menu, and seasonal treats including Elena’s blueberry pie, eggnog and peppermint stick . Also offered are glycemic ice cream and gelato.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams of Columbus, Ohio, will “show and tell” and serve its creative concoctions at Booth #3006. The product line features a smooth texture and butter cream body with a clean finish and robust flavor.

“We don’t use synthetic flavorings, dyes or off-the-shelf mixes,” said Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of the business and author of the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts cookbook. “Dairy is the foundation of everything we do, so we use the best we can find. We get our milk from cows that graze on grass at small family farms within 200 miles of our kitchen. With the help of a network of partners across Ohio and beyond, we use our favorite ingredients, often grown in fields dedicated to us and just-picked.”

Jeni-BauerJeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and a best-selling cookbook author, turned her passion for perfume blending into frozen dessert making after adding pure cayenne essential oil to chocolate ice cream with positive effective.Her company owns 20 scoop shops and sells premium pints of distinctive ice cream around the United States. Sophisticated flavors run the gamut from salty caramel, dark chocolate peppermint, sweet corn and black raspberry to Riesling-poached pear sorbet and cranberry parfait buttermilk frozen yogurt.

Bauer got into the business after turning a passion for perfume blending into frozen dessert making once she added pure cayenne essential oil to chocolate ice cream. “It was this freezing cold sweetness on fire, and I thought of it as an edible perfume,” the entrepreneur recalled. “I passed it around to my friends and they freaked out. I realized the potential was huge.”

From Jeni’s to Jane’s
Also “setting sail” from Columbus for “New World” business, Jane’s Dough Foods will be showcasing Sonoma Flatbreads by Donatos, a line of super-premium, all-natural gluten-free pizzas, at Booth #2815. Made from nitrate-free and preservative-free ingredients and developed exclusively for freezer case distribution, the line features four varieties: Chicken & Fire Roasted Peppers, Uncured Pepperoni, Three Cheese and Fire Roasted Vegetable. All are available in three sizes: the 6 ½-inch Pizza for You, a 10-inch Pizza for Two, and a 12-inch Family Pizza.

Sonoma-flatbreadServed up as all-natural gluten-free pizza, Uncured Pepperoni is one of three varieties of Sonoma Flatbreads by Donatos.“Honesty is important to us – it’s our foundation,” said Alan Hoover, general manager. “Starting from the crust and all the way up to our toppings, you can feel good about what you’re feeding your family and yourself.”

Other retail frozen products packed by Jane’s Dough Foods are Fast Break by Donatos microwavable personal pepperoni, cheese and pepperoni-sausage topped pizzas. Each utilizes Micro-Grill™ technology, enabling them to be served hot and crispy in less than 2 ½ minutes after zapping.

Yet another Ohio company, Perrysburg-based Frozen Specialties, Inc. will be in high profile at the show. Holding forth at Booth #2020, the pizza and snack bites producer is looking for new foodservice customers as well as retailers seeking custom product development expertise and a reliable private label packer.

Austin, Texas-based Smart Flour Foods’ Tuscan Inspired Uncured Two Meat Pizza (featuring classic Italian meats paired with pepperoncini), Chicken Sausage Pizza (made with roasted red peppers) and other natural and specialty pizza varieties will be available to sample at Booth #323.

The company is also rolling out a line of 16-ounce family-size pizzas that feature Uncured Pepperoni, Garden Margherita and Classic Cheese legacy flavors, while also introducing a new addition, Italian Sausage.

Smart Flour Foods’ product line is formulated with ancient grains, a naturally gluten-free flour blend that contains sorghum, amaranth and teff. These whole grains give the pizza crust a tasty, classic texture and enhanced nutritional profile.

Like all of the company’s natural and specialty pizzas, the new varieties and family-size offering are devoid of artificial flavors and preservatives, feature real mozzarella and provolone cheese that is free of rGBH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), and are made with uncured meat that contain zero nitrites and nitrates. They can be found at natural and specialty stores throughout the USA selling for $6.99 to $7.99.

Boulder, Colorado-headquartered Boulder Brands will display a wide variety of “health and wellness” food fare at Booth #2022. The focus will be on EVOL frozen burritos, entrees, snacks and breakfast items; Glutino and Udi's Gluten Free Pizza and other products; and Smart Balance heart-healthy, dairy-free spreads.

“In a world where convenience and speed are king, we’re making the case for food that is thoughtfully made to serve a purpose in your life,” said a company spokesman. “Our food is working to heal the body.”

Frozen organic products from Blackwood, New Jersey-based Caesar’s Pasta will be in abundance at Booth #2212. The range includes a GMO-free and GF-certified gluten-free range of vegan pasta entrees, ravioli, stuffed shells, manicotti, gnocchi, cannelloni, plus cheese, chicken and vegetable lasagna. All items are microwaveable.

Fish is the Dish
Renton, Washington-based Orca Bay Seafoods will showcase a “big catch” of all-natural fish fare at Booth #621. Front and center will be a line of 14 single-serve vacuum pack products that feature Alaska cod, halibut, keta salmon, sablefish, sockeye salmon, mahi mahi, swordfish and wahoo. All are portioned to be convenient and user-friendly, and are available with or without value-added ingredients such as fresh herbs and rubs.

“With consumer awareness firmly focused on sustainable practices, we are providing packaging options that mirror our common sense sourcing philosophy of doing business,” said Robert Fickenscher, director of product development.

“It’s a ‘win-win-win’ not only for the environment, but for consumers because they are still getting a natural, healthy, and delicious product that is even more convenient,” added Lilani Estacio, the company’s marketing and communications manager. “The single-serve packaging lends itself to be more flexible, both in weight and in value-added ingredients, to what our retail customers might want to carry in their freezer section.”

Holding forth at Booth #408 will be Blount Fine Foods. In business since 1946, the Fall River, Massachusetts-headquartered family-owned company’s product line feature frozen organic gourmet soups and side dishes for retail and foodservice markets. It has a production plant in Warren, Rhode Island, as well as one in Massachusetts.

CarrotGinger Blount Fine Foods’ Carrot & Ginger organic soup is marketed to buyers in both retail and foodservice sectors.Blount’s extensive menu of organic soups runs the gamut from Ancient Grain Minestrone and Tomato Bisque to Cream of Broccoli, Tuscan-style Bean & Vegetable, Vegetarian Chili, Chicken Noodle, Lentil & Chick Pea and Carrot & Ginger. Its organic side dishes include Barbecue Beans, Creamed Spinach with Mushrooms, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and Mac & Cheese.

Visitors to the Biddeford-based Maine Pie Co. booth (#8210) may avail themselves to bites of gluten-free pie, tarts and cookies. Eight flavors of pie are on the menu: apple, apple crumb, blueberry, three berry, peach raspberry, strawberry rhubarb, pecan and pumpkin.

The unbaked frozen products specialist recently added gluten-free lemon curd and chocolate tarts to its assortment, which are now offered along with three flavors of gluten-free cookies (oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip and chocolate coconut oat) and unbaked pie shells.

Those looking for berries to suit ingredient requirements, or who are in the market for fruit to fill frozen packs should check out Fruit d’Or at Booth #1506. The Notre-Dame de Lourdes, Quebec-headquartered company is a leading Canadian processor of IQF blueberries and cranberries, as well as concentrates and a full range of dried sweetened products (organic and natural, flavored and glycerin-infused). It is ranked as the largest processor of organic cranberry products in North America.

Another supplier of frozen fruit, Edina, Minnesota-based SunOpta Inc., will promote a wide range of organic products (including seeds, nuts, corn and soybeans) at Booth #2027. The company works with more than 7,000 growers in 60 countries to bring organic foods to the market.

Veggie-Fries-brocoli-bigAll natural Broccoli & Potatoes Veggie Fries are a good source of fiber, loaded with vitamin C, low in sodium and free of both GMO and gluten ingredients.Representatives from Chicago, Illinois-headquartered Quorn Foods Inc. will meet and greet visitors at Booth #1437. The main constituent of Quorn is mycoprotein, a meat substitute that is a naturally occurring, healthy form of protein. It is produced using a fermentation process very similar to brewing. The versatile ingredient is used as the base for more than 100 different food products ranging from faux meat cutlets and entrees to snacks and appetizers. Quorn replicates the taste and texture of meat exceptionally well.

Want Veggie Fries with That?
Front and center at Booth #453 will be Dave Peters, founder and ceo of Wellesley, Massachusetts-based Healthy Life Brands, offering samples of Veggie Fries with “classic french fry texture and substantial veggie nutrition.” Presented as a “Revolutionizing French Fries” product line, the non-GMO, gluten-free assortment is available in four flavors: Carrots & Potatoes; Broccoli & Potatoes; Chickpeas, Red Peppers & Potatoes; and Kale, Tuscan Beans & Potatoes. Distribution is in 397-gram retail packages. – Reported by John Saulnier