Among the top trends seen at BIOFACH 2015 in February were raw and vegan from chocolates to raw nuts and spreads; more use of low GI sweeteners with yacon becoming the center of attention; more free-from and gluten-free foods; and bigger ranges of Ancient grain products such as quinoa, chia and maca; and a bit more cleaner looking, recyclable and compostable packaging.

The major trend at the world organic fair this year was an expansion of Raw and Vegan products as producers and suppliers focused more on the dietary and nutritional needs of consumers, seen especially in chocolate bars, spreads, and free-from, gluten and allergy-free products, and highlighted by the around 100 exhibitors that presented products at the Vegan World of Experience.

Raw & Vegan Chocolate

Raw and vegan cacao and chocolate bars were standout products as organic manufacturers rolled out distinctive new products with more sustainable and recyclable packaging that gained a lot of attention from buyers at the show.

With more research backing the health and blood circulation benefits and high antioxidant properties of dark chocolate (normally 60%+ cacao), chocolate makers are moving to minimal processing and increased cacao content in chocolate bars with fruits, nuts and Ancient grains added.lovechock

Launching or expanding ranges in raw and vegan chocolate with high cacao content were Lovechock, Vivani ichoc, Pacari, Cacao Crudo, Malmo Bjorg, Lifefoods, Choc Delic, and Woodshade Organics.

At the forefront of the Raw Chocolate movement is Ecuador’s Pacari with its single origin, organic-certified Andean chocolate and products such as 100% Raw Chocolate Cacao, Raw 70% with Maca, Raw 70% with Andean Blueberry. The winner of the World’s Best Fine Chocolate award for three consecutive years launched three new 60% cacao flavours at BIOFACH.

Launched in February from EcoFinia of Germany, the makers of Vivani chocolate was ichoc Vegan and organic, animal-free chocolate in four flavours in great packaging that is 100% compostable and includes ‘white’ chocolate made from rice milk in 80gm bars.

Italy’s Cacao Crudo’s high cacao content chocolate sourced from Peru is using single origin Criollo beans. This is the first Italian company to produce raw and vegan, organic chocolate, sweetened with coconut blossom nectar and featuring 100% recyclable packaging.

Sweden’s Malmo Chokladfabrik was another organic chocolate maker featuring clean and natural looking packaging for its Bjorn organic brand, with allergy, gluten and nut-free chocolate using up to 70% cacao content, sweetened with unrefined cane sugar.

Lovechock of Holland, which won a Best New Product Award for its Lovechock Organic Raw Chocolate Pecan/Maca flavour, is made from the finest Ecuadorian raw and cold-pressed cacao. It comes in seven flavours in 40gm bars and in ‘Rocks’, presented in standout recyclable/compostable packaging.

Raw Nut & Chocolate Spreads

While the overall category has some way to go in clearer labelling and to match organic, 100% nut and sesame spreads with no sugar or salt, organic Raw Chocolate and Nut spreads seen such as Pro Fusion, Damiano’s Chocobella, Essential Trading’s Dark Chocolate Spread, and Brinker’s Chocolate Rhapsody, reflect that chocolate/cacao spreads are the fastest growing category in spreads in Europe.

The UK’s Pro Fusion launched its new 90% peanut butter/10% hemp and 10% chia high protein organic nut butters with no added sugar or salt in attractive and clean 450gm glass jars.

Organic nut grower of organic almonds and hazelnut nut spreads, Damiano of Italy, showed its organic Chocobella, that uses 10% cocoa and 14% hazelnut and a minimum 55% Fairtrade ingredients in superbly presented 365gm glass jars.

Brinkers Food, seeing success with its organic It’s for Life and Nuscobio chocolate and nut spreads, launched its Dark Chocolate spread containing 27% organic cocoa, a premium organic product in 200gm jars.

Another UK company displayed in the Vegan World of Experience was Essential Trading Co-operative. It presented its Vegan, Organic Essential Dark Chocolate Spread made with 30% Fairtrade cocoa and 65% Fairtrade ingredients.

Vegan Foods

The Raw and Vegan trend, along with free-from, is a move to healthier, plant based, minimally processed foods and avoidance of meat and dairy. The benefits of Vegan and Vegetarian is backed by medical research such as on bowel cancer, with more people becoming Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescetarian or Flexitarian or adopting a lot of these foods into their diet. The trend is gradually increasing in restaurants and catering, groceries, more at home cooking ingredients, and meal replacements.

Some of the vegan products at the Vegan World of Experience include My Ey’s vegan egg replacement and quiches made from vegetable protein; Like Meat, that really looks-like meat, vegan and organic, meal replacements made from vegetables and soy; and from Roo Brands of Bulgaria, the Roo Bar + superfoods, organic 60gm Raw,13g Protein Chia & Chocolate bars came in standout packaging.

And a Vegan and free-from product from Germany’s DasEis, the soy-based, frozen Green Smoothie Sorbet was a winner at the 2015 Best New Product Awards, where 545 products were submitted in each of eight categories.