Berry Popular: Foods at FNCE

I just returned from the American Dietetic Association (ADA) food and nutrition conference (FNCE) in San Diego and as we sort through all the information gleaned there in the coming weeks, we’ll post on what we heard, tasted and learned.

Here’s a quick first impression of what I saw at the always popular exhibit hall.

Three hundred and fifty exhibitors filled a hall with a ½ mile perimeter (we got our exercise in the San Diego convention center). They included food companies, clinical products, health related non-profits, supplement companies, food marketing associations,  small companies with specialty products and more.

A quick calculation shows that about 50 (15%) of the exhibitors were representing solely whole or lightly processed plant foods such as fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains or produce in general. Other companies also had healthful plant-based foods, but not exclusively.

Most were marketing boards or trade associations; a few were companies. Perhaps I’m noticing more, but produce (fruit especially) appears to be a growing presence in the exhibit hall.

Berries of all kinds were well represented. Their popularity among consumers is growing too – a newly released survey (Nutrition and You: Trends 2011) from the ADA says almost ½ of Americans report eating more berries over the past 5 years. Berries have gotten a lot of press and do seem to be on all the “top foods you should eat” lists.

Dairy and yogurt companies were promoting Greek yogurt products again this year, the gluten-free products continue to expand and the beverage groups were promoting lower sugar products and portion control.

Finally – my favorite new finding – you can use avocado as a substitute for butter in baked goods! Has anyone ever tried this before?


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