Trend Spotting at 2019 Expo West

Trend Spotting at 2019 Expo West

March 20, 2019

By Stephanie Edson, MS, RDN, LD, LMNT, Wellness Specialist at SpartanNash

In sunny Anaheim, California, Expo West is THE destination for organic, natural, and specialty foods.  From nutrition bars and wholesome snacks to chickpea 'rice,' watermelon seed butter, and ice cream that is really made with veggies, there is so much to explore. 

At Expo West you will find well-known companies whose products we have in our stores as well as newer and/or niche companies who are gaining market share.  Attending Expo West is a great way to connect with companies and learn about their products, and resources for retail.  Many companies at Expo West, including Simple Mills, Siggi's, Caulipower, and La Croix have retail dietitian programs or toolkits available.  

Trends spotted at Expo West this year include nutrition/health/wellness and social responsibility.  

  • For nutrition, refrigerated bars containing probiotics were some of the hottest items.  It's always fascinating to see what companies will put into a bar.  
  • There were also many plant-based protein options that promoted being soy-free.  Dairy-like foods, such as yogurt and cheese made from coconut or cashews, remain popular.  Sunflower protein, or hache, is an example of a meat replacement that is nutrient-dense and a tasty, soy-free option.
  • Functional beverages continue to trend this year as well.  Hop Water, a sparkling water infused with hops, made its debut.  On the trend of functional beverages, Ayurvedic herbs were common in quite a few beverages and foods.   
  • Looking beyond nutrition, being sustainable and reducing waste, partnering with non-profits to spread a message, and promoting a company as woman owned were common sightings on the expo floor.  Brands are no longer just about the taste of their product; they have bigger picture missions.  Many companies highlighted how they give back and how purchasing their item benefits the greater good.   

Unfortunately, 'organic', 'natural', and 'non-GMO' foods are promoted as 'healthier' at Expo West.  It is important for dietitians work with their retailers to make sure we promote foods based on the science and remain evidence-based. Other trends included keto-friendly foods in all categories, ethnic foods, smoothie cubes, and of course CBD products.  

Expo West is four packed days with exposure to the old favorites and new and trending.  In addition to tasting and seeing the all the foods, the booths some companies put together are an experience in themselves and make for some fun social media posts.  If you ever get the opportunity to attend Expo West, you will not be disappointed!