This time of year is always a bit strange for me, in that much editorial effort is directed towards two aspects of the food industry, with often very differing goals. This issue, our November Foodservice New Products Annual, serves up pleasing tidbits of information on food’s sensory side, as it discusses trends in restaurant foods and beverages and what’s happening on the culinary scene. We then swing into December’s Annual Health Ingredients issue, where we dish up healthy servings of editorial, covering ingredients, such as those beneficial to bone and cardiovascular health, to those that influence immunity and weight management.

These two issues represent what can be a certain divergence of priorities--optimal taste vs. optimal health--that exists in the industry. Several years ago, I was talking to a vendor of açai juice at the Natural Products West Expo. The thick, purple beverage contained a large portion of whole açai berries, including ground seeds, and offered a wealth of nutrients, from fiber and plant sterols to polyphenol antioxidants. It also tasted good...but not great. I mused that, in order to make the juice acceptable to a wider audience, other companies would likely strip the product of most to all of the whole berry and add back ingredients enhancing its sensory appeal. “We’ve found that our own customers don’t trust products that taste too good,” was the vendor’s reply.

Restaurants and chefs do provide healthful products, but that’s usually not the highest priority. For one, it’s not the prime food attribute their customers seek. There’s much to be said for the sheer joy of fabulously delicious foods. One only has to google “culinary benefits of lard” to read gushing and exulted praise for the taste benefits that lard brings to pies and other recipes. I don’t often see lard touted at health food shows.

In the end, the ongoing challenge to merge the two goals--that is, to provide great-tasting foods that deliver health (at a value price) is the clearest goal for food product developers.

Towards that task, I invite readers to peruse this issue’s pages filled with ideas on what’s happening in the flavorful, savory world of foodservice and to also look forward to December’s issue on health ingredients. Lastly, as long as I’m handing out “invites,” please consider stepping into the emerging world of digital tradeshows. We’re having one December 16th on heart health. It’s free; be there or be square. See pf