Voting With Your Wallet
There was an amplitude of exciting and innovative products this year at Expo West. We are thrilled to be part of a world starting to make larger changes to better our communities and environment. One of the largest trends we saw at Expo West was consumers “voting with their wallets”; a consumer’s purchases support companies and the issues they endorse. Do I want to buy a bar that donates food to others in need, or do I want to buy cereal that is investing in regenerating our agriculture?
“Our food choices make a difference” – Annie’s Homegrown
“Having a social mission is great, but no one cares if your products aren’t delicious” – Ravi Patel
“Going above and beyond because today’s consumers are environmentally aware and very focused on the details” – Ms. Blumenfeld
There are three different types of causes that fall under this category: environmental concerns, saving lives, and empowering women.
Environmental concerns were apparent in many products shown at Expo West. This huge category includes trying to reduce plastic waste, using food byproducts or regenerating agriculture, and partnering with local farmers. Many food and beverage companies are trying to find ways to tackle this problem and create more sustainable products. Not only are small businesses acting on this, but we see big brands buying small upcoming brands consumers tend to trust more. Attentive consumers are willing to “trade up” to a product they can relate to, one that improves their health or gives back to the community.
Impacting Our Environment
Partnering with Local Farmers
“They are not just sourcing organic they are actively working to make organic more accessible” – Ms. Blumenfeld
Kashi is supporting local farmers through a three-year transition process from conventional to organic farming. Kellogg has committed to sourcing certified transitional ingredients from more than 4,200 acres of US farmland to manufacture cereal and snacks.
The Regenerative Agriculture Solutions
“99% of our food comes from soil” according to David Pimentel in Soil Erosion: A Food and Environmental Threat. For companies like Annie’s Homegrown, trying to ensure the sustainability and quality of soil is incredibly important. Annie’s Homegrown has been investing in organic for three years, and they have purchased 122 million pounds of organic ingredients according to their website. Union meat and plant-based snacks and foodstirs sourced regenerative and biodynamic ingredients in their new products. Foodstirs was at the Expo West debuting their new organic minute mug cakes.
Waste Not, Trash-to-Treasure Innovation
This trend is not new but it is becoming more mainstream. Upcycling ingredients normally landfill-bound is a concept we saw in multiple products at the Expo. Alvarado Street Bakery uses the previously discarded fruit that surrounds the coffee bean and uses it to create coffee flour for their bread. Organicgirl used leftover lettuce to create an organic cold pressed beverage and the company won a NEXTY award from the Expo for this great new product. Lastly, Barnana made plantain chips with rescued fruit and features multiple flavor varieties such as Acapulco lime, Himalayan pink sea salt, Brazilian BBQ and sea salt & vinegar chips.
Cacoco, maker of drinking chocolate, created a recycled paperboard box printed with vegetable ink and held together with origami rather than glue. The inner clear wood pulp bag is made from certified compostable and biodegradable materials.
Just Water, founded by Jaden Smith, son of Hollywood star Will Smith, is trying to tackle the plastic waste issue. At this year’s Expo West, the company featured flavor-inspired waters. Jaden Smith, at age 11, saw a problem with our environment and honed in on the growing waste concerns. His desire to help the environment led to the foundation of Just Water. Just Water is also donating money to Flint, Michigan schools.
Bee’s Wrap won an award for their sustainable plastic wrap alternative. This incredible product is a favorite of mine and helps eliminate waste.
This Bar Saves Lives
“Consumers, today more than ever before, wear food brands, it’s part of their identity, it’s about voting with your wallet” – Ravi Patel, This Bar Saves Lives
When you buy one of this company’s bars, they will donate a life-saving pack of food to a child in need. Ravi Patel created the product in 2013 and in 2018, every US Starbucks store started carrying these snacks.
Em + Pact listened to what women wanted and created a unique protein bar just for them. They created a smaller sized bar with less sugar and no artificial ingredients and packed full of pro- and prebiotics. The company claims to offer more than just a protein bar, they empower women to eat better and achieve their goals.
Givaudan’s Take Away
The Natural Expo West showed us consumers are voting with their wallets. With all the new products entering the market focused on bettering our community and planet this allows consumers to put purchasing power towards something we believe in. When consumers have the choice between two products they tend to lean towards the one that has some type of social mission or story attached. As environmental concerns become more and more present in our society, brands are reacting with great products to help solve these problems. Our advice, find a way to relate to your customers while still appeasing the triple bottom line.