The 14th edition of SIAL Canada International Food Show and the equipment and technology section (SET Canada) returned to the Enercare Centre in Toronto on May 2-4, 2017, allowing over 1000 exhibitors from 50 countries to introduce their food products, network, and sign new buyers. SIAL Canada is the only show in the region that offers products to fit the needs of the food retail, service and processing industries.

On the mission at the fair to spot innovative, delicious and healthier alternatives to summer staple foods, which are perfect for backyard barbeques, OWN found some unique brands that reflect how the industry is moving to a better way to drink a can of pop or to replace those greasy hamburgers.

Any backyard barbeque needs to start the party with a little kick! A classic Canadian cocktail, the Caesar, is a vodka based beverage mixed with tomato clam juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. With only one Caesar mix brand on the market, Walter Craft Caesar brings an all- natural twist to the table. Compared to the recipe consumers see on grocery store shelves, Walter has made their product gluten free, with no artificial colors, flavors or high fructose corn syrup. The company has replaced the citric acid used in the other brand with lemon juice and has skipped the tomato juice from concentrate. Instead, Walter uses real pressed tomato juice in their Craft Caesar mix as well as sustainably sourced clam juice, according to their marketing manager, Michelle Rivard. They’ve passed on big net fishing, which can grab other species or bacteria in the net, and are Ocean Wise™ recommended based on their use of smaller nets to fish purely clams for a healthier and safer juice. Walter has also released a Caesar rim mix that is made with various seasoning and spices without any monosodium glutamate (MSG).

In the department of better alcoholic beverages, beer is in vogue and microbreweries or local and small scale craft brewers are back. The Ontario Craft Brewers Association alone has over 70 members. At Sial Canada, Czechvar got our attention. It is not made locally, but brewed in the Czech Republic. However, it has been available in Canada for 17 years. Czechvar follows the 1516 Reinheitsgebot Law, known as the German Beer Purity Law, which permits only three ingredients to be used in producing the alcoholic beverage: Water, barley and hops. The water found in Czechvar is fresh, unfiltered and pulled from deep European wells. The beer ages and matures for 120 days before it is ready for sale, unlike most North American beers from large manufacturers that are produced and sold at a quicker pace according to Czechvar representative, Tony Lamovsek.

Regarding non-alcoholic beverages, 1642 has created a line of pop that is made with natural sugars and colors and is only 98 calories a bottle. Natural spring water, apple juice, maple syrup and honey are just a few of the ingredients that go in the recipe. 1642’s version of cola tastes exactly like the conventional brand but without the unnatural sweeteners and chemical. Their ginger ale gives off a strong taste of pure ginger. The company made their first bottle in 2015 and was a first-time exhibitor at SIAL Canada. Since landing on the popular TV show Dragon’s Den, 1642 now has a distribution deal with Lassonde, a major Canadian beverage player established since 1918.

Munchies are a necessity for any barbeque, especially salty snacks. Bowls of chips are fundamental especially when children are around. However, Spokes is a Canadian brand that redefines the way we think about chips. This air puffed potato snack is non- GMO and free from gluten, lactose, egg and soy. Spokes is a unique salty snack on the market to get down to 40 calories a cup since it is puffed with hot air instead of oil. Spokes comes in numerous flavors that include mango habanero, sea salt, barbeque and salt and pepper, none of them including any of the 11 major allergens.

Cold- cut sandwiches are a staple for summer picnics and on- the- go outdoor activities. But the nitrates, hormones, and preservatives that come with the consumption of deli meats are an obvious downside. Instead, another option for meat lovers is hamburgers. They are a staple for summer barbecues, but their health benefits are quite limited. A red meat alternative raised without growth hormones, stimulants or animal by-products is bison. Canadian Bison, a company from Alberta, is bringing a healthier version of meat to backyard barbecues. According to Matt Fulton, a Canadian Bison representative attending Sial Canada, regular beef contains 10g of fat for every 100g while bison only has 2.5g. Not to mention, it contains higher levels of iron and B12. Canadian Bison is a soft and tender meat, comparable to ribs that fall off the bone. Bison has been around for a long time, but the industry demand for the meat is beginning to rise. In 2005, there were over 500,000 bisons across North American farms. With Alberta holding the highest bison population in Canada, it’s surely a meat that will take over the kitchen in healthier households and restaurants.

For a side dish to those bison burgers, US-based Safie’s Specialty Foods has created a new way to flavor and produce pickled vegetables, all natural and kosher. They are a SIAL Innovation Canada Award winner for 2017 for their crispy dill carrots and have made various pickled combinations of other vegetables. The organic pickled beets are their best seller and taste, unlike other jarred beets, while their "sweet and hot bread and butter pickles" are a flavorful, all natural twist. Each product is handmade, cut and packed by the Safie family that has been in business since 1929.

Summer salads are always a hit. A quinoa salad strays from the classic lettuce based salad and heavier potato or pasta dish. Quinoa is a perfect addition to a barbecue, and Inca Gold’s sells organic white, red and black quinoa and works directly with farmers and suppliers from the Andean highlands. A newcomer in the quinoa market is Quinta Quinoa, introducing the first quinoa grown in Ontario. The start-up was also one of the Top 10 International Innovation Award winners at SIAL Canada this year.

For a delicious and healthy season of summer barbecues, retailers can bring the above products to store shelves to serve health conscious consumers better. These products were among the hundreds of goods that 16,578 industry visitors from 60 countries could see at SIAL Canada. The fair will take place on May 2-4, 2018 at the Montreal Convention Centre.