British Columbia

Latest grocery trend blends the global with local

"The future of grocery is all about global flavours," says Nancy Kwon, who represents the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.

Hundreds of grocers gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre for Western Canada's largest grocery expo

Ariana (left) and Anaheed (right) Saatchi pose with their saffron ice cream. The sisters help run the family dairy operation in North Vancouver. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Locally grown and produced food with an international twist is on one of the biggest food trends this year, according to a group of independent grocers.

Hundreds of grocers and exhibitors gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre this week to share new trends and new products at Western Canada's largest grocery show.

"Old is new again. Everybody is into pickling. Everybody is into homemade food again. Everybody is into scratch cooking and scratch baking," said Nancy Kwon, who represents the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.

Locally-sourced food choices — like these pickled vegetables — remain popular. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Kwon says local food is still a strong trend in the industry, but people are also making locally-made food that harkens back to their family history.

For example, sisters Ariana and Anaheed Saatchi help run Ariana Dairy in North Vancouver.

"My dad immigrated from Iran in the 1970s to the Shuswap in B.C. He's had retail businesses for 30 years including the store that we grew up working in is in Lonsdale in North Vancouver," said Anaheed Saatchi.

"For the last three years, we've been manufacturing the products we grew up eating."

This includes all-natural yogurt, feta cheese and a special Persian-style ice cream made of saffron, rose water, pistachio and chunks of frozen cream.

"The future of grocery is about global flavours," said Kwon.

Ready-to-eat foods

Another trend is the "grocerant" — a store that blurs the line between restaurant and grocer. Consumers are often looking for ready-to-eat or grab and go foods at the grocery aisle, and many stores are increasingly offering an in-store dining experience.

Conversely, local chefs are producing grocery products for consumers.

Chefs have become celebrities, explained Kwon, and it makes sense they would expand to creating handcrafted, personally-made, locally-sourced products.

Chef Pieter Van Meenen (left), pictured with his wife Nathalie, has a new line of artisan dips. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Chef Pieter Van Meenen, who works at the Giggle Dam Dinner Theatre in Port Coquitlam, is one such chef.

He said it was the popularity of his Beaver Dip — a jalepeno smoked gouda dip — that inspired him to create a line of dips.

"I've always had a passion for cooking and food and I just created this line of artisanal fresh dips. There's just so much demand for it because there's nothing else like it," Van Meenan said.

The grocer's convention is in its 28th year.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled CBC's Margaret Gallagher goes on a taste tour of 2017's grocery trends