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Sean Wittenberg and Michelle Watson of Safe Catch aim to revive the tuna category down 30 since the 3904 mercury scare
<p><span data-reactid=".0">Sean Wittenberg and Michelle Watson of Safe Catch aim to revive the tuna category, down 30% since the &#39;04 mercury scare. </span></p>

Expo East show features hard-working foods

Foods with more flavors and more functionality were on display in Baltimore as the exhibit halls opened at the Natural Products Expo East Thursday.

Expo East, run by SN’s Penton sister company New Hope Natural Media, showcased a number of young brands in the natural/organic space now working harder behind line extensions and added functionality with eyes on gaining greater penetration in retail channels including conventional supermarkets. This included a broad push into protein and probiotics, as illustrated by Enjoy Life foods, the “free-from” gluten brand whose newly launched muffin and brownie mixes now feature both, chief sales and marketing officer Joel Warady told SN.

Elsewhere, exhibitors seemed poised to challenge existing grocery categories behind “better for you” formulations, and exotic flavor combinations. GoodPop frozen popsicles feature flavors like Hibiscus Mint and Banana Cinnamon, using a short list of fresh ingredients, said founder Daniel Goetz.

A siracha-infused coconut oil offers home cooks a healthy oil with a kick, according to executives at Carrington Farms. Vincent Kitirattragam, founder of coconut-chip company Dang Foods, introduced new flavors bringing the sweet snack into the savory realm with chili lime and bacon flavors.

Several exhibitors were looking beyond product attributes as an element of their brand. Sean Wittenberg, president and co-founder of Safe Catch, a canned tuna brand arising from a technology he developed to test every fish the brand uses for mercury. He said the brand could help revive a tuna category that’s declined by 50% since 1999 — 30% since a 2004 finding that mercury in tuna could be a danger to pregnant women and children. Safe Catch was honored earlier this year with a NEXTY award.

Charlie Crystle, CEO of Lancaster Food Co., said the organic bakery was founded to help alleviate poverty in Lancaster, Pa. It makes four varieties of sliced bread now available regionally.

The Real Co. was launching salts, sugars and grains under a “100 single origin” claim addressing consumer demand for transparency in food, said Belal Elbanna of the Valley Cottage, N.Y.-based supplier. Elbanna said the company would invite other suppliers whose products are sourced directly to also use the “100% Single Origin” claim.

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