Beverages with benefits and foods from far-flung countries were presented to grocers on day one of SIAL Canada.

The three-day trade exposition kicked off Tuesday at Toronto’s Direct Energy Centre.

Among the new products on display was Protein2o, a bottled water that boasts 15 grams of protein.

New in Canada (it hit the market in January through Unique Foods) the 500 ml water in flavours such as Natural Wild Cherry Splash, is aimed at consumers looking for a post-workout quench.

It contains fewer calories than protein shakes, said Bob Kral, president of Protein2o, based in Melrose Park, Ill., and is especially popular with women 22 to 45.

“One of its benefits is that protein without calories builds lean muscle mass,” Kral said.

Protein2o launched in America a year ago and is now in supermarkets such as Kroger, Roundy’s and Safeway.

One more beverage brand pumping up its healthy bonafides was Rise Kombucha. The Montreal-based company makes a line of bottled kombucha (fermented teas) in funky flavours such as blueberry-maple and rose-schizandra.

Kombucha contains antioxidants and proponents also say it’s good for the digestive system. Simon Bertrand, Rise’s president, said that with more companies launching kombucha products, consumer awareness is starting to grow about the teas.

At SIAL, Rise was showcasing new graphics on its 12- and 14-ounce bottles, which feature the company name more prominently in white bold letters. The new design was launched in December, Bertrand said.

Another new product at SIAL was a dense and nutritious bar under the Omax brand from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.-based Nutrifrance.

Six bars come in 240-gram pouches in two flavours: chocolate-hazelnut and cranberry-lemon. The chewy, slightly sweet bars can be frozen or stored at room temperature and come with an array of benefits: high in vitamin D, high in fibre and low in cholesterol and sodium.

Julie Venne, Nutrifrance’s sales co-ordinator, told Canadian Grocer the bars make an excellent snack and, because they’re a good source of energy, can be eaten for breakfast too.

“You could have a bar with a yogurt,” she said, adding that ideally grocers will stock Omax bars in the bakery department.

The SIAL Canada show is held annually, alternating between Toronto and Montreal each year. It’s one of several grocery shows put on around the globe each year by SIAL, which is based in France. The largest is the show in Paris held every two years in the fall.

Perhaps because of its global connections, SIAL Canada attracts a number of international exhibitors. Stands from Mexico, Jordan, Ecuador and Bolivia were prominent at the show.

The Colombian stand featured seven companies from that country.

Among these was Super, a confectionery maker whose candies and gummies are popular with kids. Super’s line at the show included colourful Nerds-like candies called Oka Loka Nanos and gummies covered in a hard chocolate shell called Chocolores Gomas.

Gerhald Claussen, international sales manager with Super, said that his company’s candies have gained popularity outside Colombia. For instance, its Trululu soft candies that come in playful shapes like crocodiles are a hit in Costa Rica, and Super’s Chao brand mints “are selling well in Israel.”

Since Colombia and Canada inked a free trade agreement in 2011, more than 160 Colombian agri-food companies have exported to Canada for the first time.

Alvaro Concha, trade commissioner with Procolombia, the country’s trade commission office in Toronto, said the aim of the Colombian stand at SIAL was to present a more diversified portfolio of goods to Canadian buyers and show that Colombia has more products than coffee and fruit.

International foods weren’t only exhibited by non-Canadian firms, though. One of the more interesting items at the show Tuesday was Nupasta, a pasta made by milling the roots of the konjac plant, which grows in China and Japan.

Konjac’s main advantage over regular wheat pasta is that it’s gluten free. Each 210-gram pack of Nupasta also contains six grams of fibre and only 25 calories, one-tenth the calories of regular pasta.

The product was launched only a few months ago and has already gotten accolades, with a SIAL Innovation award at this show. It also made the finalists list for this year’s Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards.

Nupasta is currently listed in some 200 independent stores but is looking at listing with major grocers as well.

Nupasta’s Stephen Cheung said products made from the konjac plant may be new in Canada but they’re old hat in Japan.

“If you look at the space given to pasta in Canadian grocery stores, the space given to konjac in Japanese stores is bigger,” he said.