Top 5 Trends

Anyone paying attention to what’s happening in the food and beverage industry has probably heard of, if not attended, Expo West Natural Products in California. With more than 3,500 vendors, what better way to scout the latest trends and products in the natural foods space. Our team headed out to report on what we can expect to see in 2019 and beyond – and we were not disappointed.

Trying to cover 478,000 square feet was nearly impossible but we did our best and have the battle wounds on our feet to prove it. Words of wisdom – people aren’t lying when they say wear comfortable shoes to the show. Anyway, we combed through our information to recap the most interesting themes we saw at the Expo.

Numero Uno – Alternatives

If you have a specific allergy, food intolerance, or just want to make some healthier swaps in your diet, this was the show for you! Fret not if you think your dietary restrictions mean you can’t splurge on a gooey, cheesy piece of pizza. Almond flour crust was there to ensure all pizza fanatics could have their fill without suffering the consequences of an unhappy stomach. Pea protein cheese puffs, watermelon seed butter, flavored floral honeys, oatmilks and vegan ice creams highlighted the continual shift of alternative options.

Higher Expectations

CBD, keto and MCT stole the show. It felt as if every other booth was advertising a product with one of these claims. Consumers are looking for products that allow them to feel their best. Whether it’s a few drops of CBD oil to reduce stress or stocking up on pro- and pre-biotics to ensure a healthy gut, it was loud and clear that brands are on board with adaptogens. Oh, and did we mention Kombucha. It was EVERYWHERE!

Nootropics

Noo what? Energy, Beauty, Immunity, Calming, Stress, Brain. So many products at the show were centered on functionality or needstate. The ingredient most displayed in this space – Mushrooms. Lions Mane, a mushroom said to contain bioactive substances that have beneficial effects on the body, especially the brain, heart and gut, was in products like Numi Organics Mind Tonic and Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha. Vega debuted a plant based protein powder with Reishi. Athletes can have their pre-workout drink, during the workout beverage and end with a recovery juice. Not enough energy in your life? Redbull tonics and hot teas alike were boasting energy claims. Similarly, there was a lot of buzz around coffee. Stok Protein Cold Brew Coffee, Golden lattes, and La Columbe coffee shandy were just a few examples of the innovation happening in this space.

Being so near to LA, it’s no surprise that beauty products made their mark. Who knew that a balanced diet of collagen infused waters, bone broths and sleep shots are the ticket to being beautiful?

Snack Attack

Key word here is superfood. SO many brands positioned their snack products as a superfood. Activated popcorn, seed butter bars, protein cookies, chia coconut almond butter and more. Companies are also getting creative on product formats. From bites to chewables, purees and pouches convenience is still a huge driver for the snack space. Mix that with some sort of superfood ingredient like matcha, spirulina, or turmeric and you have the recipe for successful snacking at this expo.

Flavor Bombs

We talked about the products and formats that made the roster for MVP’s but what about the flavors? Blood Orange and Passionfruit led the charge in much of the beverage space. No surprise that ginger and turmeric claimed the title of most popular pairing in the health and wellness section. Shout out to the Naturex booth for their awesome debut of Turmipure Gold™ technology. Florals and botanicals continue to gain traction with Elderberry and Hibiscus. If you haven’t tried lavender milk, you are missing out. We were happy to see some ethnic inspiration happening as well. Tandoori turmeric popcorn, chimichurri jerky, salsa Verde beets and flavored harissa spreads brought some excitement to the mix.  

Cocoa may not be new but companies are leveraging this classic to create some unique products. Chocolate displays lined the aisles of the show highlighting organic chocolate, specific origin of the cacoa beans, and a vast range of wild flavor combinations. The most memorable product was perhaps Upriver’s Dark Wild Cold Brew Cocoa.

That’s a Wrap

Not an egg wrap; we had enough of those to last us for a while. In all seriousness, I can confidently say this was one of the best Expo’s I have attended. We could have easily spent another week checking out the latest trends and sampling new products if the show lasted that long. We left feeling energized, informed, excited and passionate to work in such a creative industry. We are already looking forward to Expo 2020.

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