By Wilbert Jones
Each year between the months of March and June, the city of Chicago hosts some of the most important global trade shows associated with the hospitality industry. Attendees worldwide flock to this windy city to learn about some of the most innovative consumer household products, food, beverage trends in the food service and retail marketplace.
International Home + Housewares Show
This year, from March 10-13, over 60,000 attendees attended to the International Home + Housewares Show, to visit over 2,000 vendors. A few highlights include a 12-cup self-cleaning grind and brew coffee maker from Hamilton Beach and Cuisinart. The company Zero Oxygen Solutions (ZOS) demonstrated a gadget that keeps wine fresh up to 2 months after the bottle has been opened. It comes with a reusable oxygen-absorbing cartridge which absorbs 100% of oxygen from the air in the bottle of wine (oxygen is what causes wine to go bad) as well as dissolves oxygen in the wine.
One new item that will probably end up in every consumer household is the Rejuvenate Click n Clean Floor Care Kit. The manufacturer of this product wants to change the way consumers clean their floors in their homes. A new multi-surface spray mop system, does a range of cleaning, from dusting to deep scrubbing on flooring surface of every kind, including hardwood, laminate, linoleum, tile, grout, marble, granite, vinyl tile sealed concrete and even carpet.
On the cutlery side, Kyocera, known as one of the first companies to develop the zirconia ceramic knife, showcased their newest product – a line of new knives called Z212, made of a ceramic blade that stays sharper 2x longer.
The National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel Show welcome over 65,000 attendees, 2,300 exhibitors from over 110 countries to its 99th annual convention. From May 22-25, some of the best innovative new products were introduced at the global food expo within the convention. The 2018 annual food & beverage awards (FABI), went to over 30 companies that created the newest, marketable and tasty foodservice products – few of them were Grecian Delight Foods’ Falafel Fritters, Belvoir Fruit Farms’ Organic Elderflower and Rose Lemonade and Smart Flour Foods Gluten-Free Hoagie Roll.
A host of imported gourmet products were sampled out at the International Exhibitor Pavilion, with representation from 24 countries. French company. Pomone offered some of its finest pre-cut/pre-sliced tarts – chocolate & raspberry fondant and a premium brown sugar plum tart.
Rumi Spice, an Afghan company produces a line of saffron based specialty products, showcased their paella spice blend, Kabul piquant chicken saffron spice blend, and saffron rose herbal tea bags.
Sweets & Snacks Expo
May 22-24, well over 17,000 attendees from 90 countries flocked to the Sweets & Snacks Expo to sample over 800 companies’ new candy and snack products. Some of the trends spotted were products designed around the flavors of Sweet & Salty, Chickpeas, cauliflowers and Lentils used to make chips and the popular caramel and coconut flavors.
The Good Bean launched a line of crunchy chickpeas snacks. The new flavors are classic hummus and sweet sriracha. New York-based Vegan Rob’s produced a couple of new products, including probiotic cauliflower puffs and Jackfruit puffs. Both products are gluten-free, vegan, and contains no trans fats.
Daelmans Stroopwafels known for their popular line of stroopwafels, introduced a new flavor at the Sweets and Snacks Expo this year; Chocolate-Caramel Mini Stroopwafels.
United Fresh Expo
United Fresh Expo was held June 15-27. It’s actually five trade shows under one exposition – International FloriCulture Expo, United Fresh MKT Expo, Smart Food Expo, United Fresh Expo and the Global Cold Chain Expo.
Blue Diamond Growers introduced their new bold sriracha and habanero barbecue flavor almonds in a grab & go 1.5 oz pack size. Melissa’s showcased an organic drinking coconut beverage, which is a real coconut packaged with an attached tab to open it and a straw to consume it. Fly Green Snacks launched a line of shitake mushroom chips, spicy buffalo being one of the popular flavors. The company’s niche is chips, made from 100% shitake mushrooms.
Wilbert Jones is the president of The Wilbert Jones Company – a food product development and marketing company founded in 1993 based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more food and industry happenings.