Philadelphia, PA—The WholeFoods team walked the Harvest Festival floor yesterday, finding a sense of cheer. People were excited to be at a show, excited to reconnect and chat, and extremely excited to sample—One Village Coffee, for instance, ran out of samples altogether.
The major trend this year: plant-based. The first table the team stopped at belonged to Teev-O-Nee, which, according to the Israeli owner Natanyah Young, means “vegan” in Hebrew. The product: vegan cheesecake. Made mostly with nuts, it was an instant favorite for us at WholeFoods, and it offered the experience Young wanted people to have: “I want people to be able to eat without hurting their conscience. A cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory is 1,000 calories. My cheesecake is not that.”
Sparing the conscience while having fun was echoed elsewhere, too, by companies like Avec and St. James Tearoom, which offered delicious drinks—which, while they can be drunk alone, can also be used as a healthy, calorie-light mixer. A Dozen Cousins was offering new rice products, as well—cooked in bone broth, for a high-protein, collagen-containing bite. Kokada was offering a coconut spread, for some sweet snacking deliciousness without guilt—and, offering the same, Soom Foods was showing off their brand-new Vanilla tahini spread. An aisle away, with the same goal, Little Secrets was offering their crisp bars, which were also a hit with WholeFoods.
Along the same lines, we also met Brent Campbell, Commercial Director/Owner of Epogee. EPG, the company’s fat replacement product, is used to reduce calories—but, Campbell said, it goes beyond that. The product has found a niche in plant-based. “People don’t seem to care as much about the calories,” he told us. “They say our product makes their plant-based meats juicier, and gives them a better texture. And when one person says it, that’s nothing. Two people, even—not that big a deal. But the amount of feedback we’ve gotten? We knew—we’ve got something special. It’s a new sense of purpose. We aren’t just helping drop calories a bit, we’re helping support this shift towards plant-based.”
These themes—health and planet—were repeated over the entire floor, wherein nearly all the products were plant-based. Another standout: Shaka Tea, which is made with māmaki. Why is it special? Mosese Ōhia, Director of Hawai’i Ag & Community Development, explained that while black tea and green tea come from the tea plant, Hawai’i makes tea from the māmaki plant, which is native to the region and supports a specific native butterfly. “All the beautiful colors you see in Hawaii? Come from this butterfly. Every plant we grow supports this butterfly. When you drink Shaka Tea, you’re restoring the ecosystem.”
And, of course, there was hemp: Colorado Hemp Honey was offering a variety of flavors, with the suggestion that buyers put the honey in their tea at the end of the day for a soothing sip; Cornbread was advertising the fact that they only use the flower, and not the whole plant.
There was also plenty of focus on retail. YourSuper.com, for instance, makers of superfood products, told WholeFoods that after being online for a while, they’re looking to get in stores with products like Gut Feeling and Moon Balance Mix. Pearl Crop, makers of nut products, also told us they were focusing on retailers—Igor Malobabic, International Sales Manager, shared: “We do private label as well, and while we used to just work with mostly almonds, retailers want the whole thing, they want more than that, so we’ve expanded to offer cashews, macadamias, and more. We make oils, powders, pancake mixes—anything you can do with a nut, we do it.”
Keep an eye out for more coverage—both over the next week, and over the course of the year!