By John Saulnier, FFB Editorial Director

It can get pretty cold during the winter in the Great White North, where the winds hit heavy way past the borderline and the snow drifts deep. But with a trusty supply of tasty frozen food in the icebox to heat and eat, the warm comfort of convenience cuisine is fully enjoyed during all seasons by Canadians and their neighbors to the south.

oetker giuseppe paniniAt the top of the people’s choice menu in Canada at the moment are Dr. Oetker Giuseppe Pizzeria Panini, Can’t Mess It Up! Wild Pink Salmon from High Liner Foods, and Oh Naturel! Black Bean Bites, Quinoa Mushroom Burger and Garden Vegetable Bites.

On March 26 it was announced that the above listed frozen fare received coveted BrandSpark International 2018 Best New Product Awards (BNPA). That’s quite an honor, considering that 15,000 Canadians were polled by the marketing research company that sponsors the annual survey of consumer buying habits in 48 different categories ranging from food and house wares to beauty and personal care items.

BrandSpark BNP logo"With thousands of new products launched into the marketplace every year and new ways to buy products, including e-commerce, consumers are looking for ways to identify which products are truly the best and deserving of their dollars," said Robert Levy, president of BrandSpark International and founder of the BNPAs. "Over the past fifteen years, the Best New Product Awards has become the most credible and influential awards program for CPG products."

Dr. Oetker’s recently launched Giuseppe Panini Bruschetta, generously topped with cheese and tomatoes, is distributed in a 250-gram twin packages. A second variety, Supremo, features pepperoni and vegetables.

blackbeanbitesIn the meat alternative category, the winning plant-based Black Bean Bites offering from Oh Naturel! is made of black beans, corn, brown rice, roasted green and red peppers and a blend of spices. Packed in 370-gram bags, the “mouthful of flavors” is promoted as a “perfect ingredient in a stir-fry or pasta” and “a crowd-pleaser as an appetizer with dips!”

On the fish front, High Liner Foods’ patent pending reverse sous vide Can’t Mess It Up! Wild Pink Salmon comes in a sealed pouch. Goof-proof preparation instructions call for consumers to simply boil a pot of water, then dial down the heat to zero, pop the sealed pouch into the pot and cover it, wait ten minutes, then remove the pouch. Let it stand for several minutes before opening and enjoying a perfectly prepared fish dish.

Honey Balsamic Salmon 284gHalifax, Nova Scotia-based High Liner offers the high-protein product accented with a choice of flavors: honey balsamic, maple Dijon, teriyaki, and cilantro and lime. The suggested retail price for two fillet portions distributed in 284-gram boxes is $9.99.

True North Canadian consumers are truly embracing innovation, as seven in ten surveyed by BrandSpark International said they very much like trying new products.

"This number has remained steady since we started the Best New Product Awards 15 years ago,” said Levy. “There are still so many new products being launched to market that shoppers have a hard time keeping track…With so many of us pressed for time, two in three Canadian shoppers say they look for new products that will make their lives easier.”

He continued: “Other areas of innovation that resonate with Canadians include natural food products. Four in five shoppers place value on 'natural' food claims, including 'free of hormones,' 'free of antibiotics,' and 'no artificial flavors.' However, three in four surveyed agree that taste is still the most important factor in their food purchases.”

Bon appétit!

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