COVID-19 Culinary Expo offers mix of healthy trends, market insights

Food is an emotional as well as an essential consumer product.

AL-ARZ Tahini, which is sold in the US. (photo credit: Courtesy)
AL-ARZ Tahini, which is sold in the US.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For Marissa DeMaio, director of Marketing at Atalanta Corp., it’s clear what Americans want during COVID-19: to snack at home.
“We Americans are fickle,” she said. “We like lots of flavors: hotness that sets your mouth on fire for example.” She mentioned the great success Israeli firms have had in introducing hummus to US-based consumers and added that the future lies with “innovative packaging and clean labels.”
The first could be as simple as inserting a fork or a spoon into the product to ensure maximum ease of consumption. “We found people moved their snacking habits from the street to their homes,” she explained. “We used to reach for that little extra-something on the go in the city, now we reach for it while studying or working from home.”
Despite coronavirus restrictions, the 2020 Israeli Culinary Expo opened on Tuesday with Foreign Trade Administration (FTA) head Ohad Cohen inviting online participants to visit the virtual booths and explore the beginning of “a beautiful friendship” between their markets and the innovative Israeli food industry.The Expo was initiated by the Israel Export Institute.
The two-day long virtual event brings together Israeli chefs like Shahar Shabtay, and business leaders and industry innovators who share insights about market needs and trends during COVID-19, food bloggers like Tamara Aharoni and even a panel held in Nazareth on the question of what’s “Israeli” about the culinary landscapes of this land.
Israeli-imported pretzels, DeMaio pointed out, are a big sale item at a time when two out of three Americans are snacking at home.
Clean labels mean that food products are made with fewer ingredients and that the average consumer will not only understand what they are, but also associate them with wholesome foods. More and more consumers are seeking plant-based food products, which translates into a spike in demand for vegan foods.
Roy Wolf, chairman of Mazot Aviv’s IEICI advisory board, noted that the Israeli plants-based food company Tivall has been a world-leader in that field since 1986.
While discussing local companies, he said that “we may not be the cheapest, but we at the Israeli food industry can bring better products for your health.”
Food is an emotional as well as an essential consumer product. While COVID-19 has increased demand for healthy, easy-to-eat, home-delivered options, one thing cannot be ignored: what does it taste like?
“We’ll never be able to market anything which doesn’t taste good,” head of Food Tech Projects, Innovations and New Ventures at EDEKA Jan Lingenbrinck told members. “Our goal is to introduce more and more Israeli companies to the German market.”