A strong focus on farm-to-fork as well as craft production processes prevailed at this year's Africa's Big 7 food and drink show, held in Johannesburg (June 25-27). Stylus pulls out two of the biggest themes to emerge from the show.
- The Rise of India Pale Ale (IPA): Savvy craft breweries are encouraging consumers to extend their beer-drinking habits to include more robust IPA versions in addition to their usual, softer ales. A heavy brew, even for the seasoned drinker, these products were mostly presented among a range of alternatives, enabling the drinker to start out with a milder beer before moving onto more intense flavours.
Johannesburg–based Agar's Brewery showcased its new Warrior IIPA. Brewed for the first time earlier this year, co-owner Donovan Agar said this New England-style beer is not as bitter as the company's Tomahawk IPA, but possesses a higher alcohol content. "It allows for easier drinking and the fruity undertones are more palatable for those first trying an IPA," he said.
New South African company OC Brewery is also trying to make IPA more accessible to those who are not used to its intense flavour profile. "IPA uses a stronger hop and has a heavier taste. Therefore, we offer a range, including a lighter, amber ale called The Headless Huntsman as a starting point. Those who enjoy the stronger taste can move on to our newest IPA, The Dictator," said brewery owner Gavin Marais.
Johannesburg brewery Mad Giant showcased its new IPA brew Urban Legend. Sales manager Kruger Basson explained that the South African beer-drinking palate is more accustomed to German-style lager (which is matured in cold storage and can be pale, golden, amber or dark). "IPA beer is typically very bitter, but ours offers a tropical fruit flavor," he said. "We are currently producing our second batch, and you can be sure that it's fresh as IPA beer must be sold within three months of manufacturing to retain its flavor."
- Natural Power: As covered in Africa's Culinary Opportunity, baobab has become one of Africa's most popular superfood imports for widespread markets, and the ingredient is now appearing in numerous food and beauty formats.
"The baobab fruit has a sour, acid taste similar to grapefruit," explained Fran Patsika, sales and export manager for Zimbabwean producer B'Ayoba. B'Ayoba is bringing baobab to market in the form of sweets and sports drink powders. The sweets come in Orange, Crème Soda and Strawberry varieties, while the drink powders come in Baobab & Orange and Baobab & Strawberry flavours. The sports drinks contain twice the amount of calcium as the same volume of milk and six times the potassium of one banana per recommended serving.
Turkish food producer Zeytursan is ramping up simple ingredients like turnip juice and pickles by presenting them in new and unexpected guises. The company's turnip juice is mixed with black carrots (rich in calcium, iron and zinc), while its mixed pickles include unusual add-ins like green plums (high in vitamins A, C and K) and ochre (which helps with digestion and stabilises blood sugar).
Johannesburg food and beverage developer Zucchi Innovations uses cola flavour (derived from the kola nut) to offset its Zesty Ala'cola Sauce, which can be used for cooking, basting or eaten as a tasty dip. Regional development director Nozuko Zuki Mhlauli said the cola is combined with other food components like ginger and garlic to create the desired depth of flavour. "After the initial fruity, spicy zing, the cola flavour shines through," said Mhlauli.