The West Coast Fancy Food Show, which was held Jan.15-17 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, featured  80,000 speciality foods and beverages, with more than 1,300 exhibitors from 50 countries and 17,000 attendees.Candy Industry’sCurtis Vreeland ( www.vreelandassociates.com) shares his observations on the latest confectionery treats and trends, such as chocolate for breakfast and chocolate for PMS.    

Droga Confections: Droga Confection’s Rebel Rocky Road is a chocolate-covered cluster that hits all the current confectionery trends: premium ingredients, no corn syrup or GMO corn starch and locally sourced to San Francisco where Droga is based. The hand-made marshmallows are another welcome trend. The result is an adult version of an old comfort sweet.  By the way, Droga means, “drug” in Italian. It’s a great addiction!   

 For information, visit: drogaconfections.com

Knipschildt Chocolatier: Fritz Knipschildt is an award-winning chocolatier based in Norwalk, Conn. Tapping into the trend of using salt as a main ingredient, Knipschildt expands the savory flavor notes through the use of single-origin salts. Thus, salt sprinkled on the top of a luscious caramel not only adds textural crunch; but can offer a different contrapuntal balance if its black Hawaiian, Himalayan Pink or French Fleur de Sel.   

 For information, visit: knipschildt.com

Comptoir du Cacao: Comptoir du Cacao is an artisan chocolate company based south of Paris. The company is notable because its Praline Truffles were honored at the Paris Salon du Chocolat, the Grand Prix of chocolate shows. These confections set a benchmark for American artisan chocolatiers and just now have been made available in the U.S.   

For information, visit: www.comptoircacao.fr

New Tree: Chocolate for breakfast? Slathered on toast, it’s a typical power breakfast for the Dutch and Belgians. But on the American side of the Atlantic, the leading spread is loaded with sugar and palm oil, appealing mainly to kids. Not any more. Belgian-based New Tree has released a spread based on fine, dark (73%) Belgian chocolate. Other health benefits: it has 70% less fat and 40% less calories. It’s also flavorful and loaded with chocolaty healthy goodness, just what you need to get going in the morning.   

For information, visit: www.newtree.com

XAN Confections: Over the years scientists have discovered that chocolate is naturally packed with many healthy properties. Irving, California-based Xanconfections, has taken chocolate’s good-for-you benefits, fortified them, and separated them into five specific functional categories under the CocoXan brand, including: 
 ●        Coco Heart (with antioxidants) 
 ●        Coco Well (with Wellmune WGP) 
 ●        Coco Brain (with vitamins and DHA) 
 ●        Coco Preggers (for new and soon-to-be moms; with Folic Acid and DHA omega-3) 
 ●        Coco PMS (with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients and sold with the byline: “Unbitch yourself”   

 For information, visit: www.xanconfections.com

Moonstruck Chocolatier: Our last stop is at Portland-based Moonstruck Chocolatier. Cacao, like wine, has different genetic varieties, including: Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario (a hybrid between the first two). What’s interesting at Moonstruck is that the company has rediscovered an old heirloom variety, Nacional, in a remote canyon in Peru. Moonstruck’s product is called Fortunato No 4.   

For information, visit: www.moonstruckchocolate.com