Trending Product at Expo West
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Natural Products Expo West is a leading trade show in the natural, organic, and healthy products industry. Held in Anaheim, California from March 7-11, this year’s show brought in buyers from both big box and small independent retailers from across the world who are seeking the hottest new products. According to New Hope Network’s Nutrition Business Journal, the natural and organic industry is forecast to surpass $300 billion in sales by 2023 and $400 billion by 2030. As health-minded consumers continue to place a premium on products that deliver health benefits while increasingly looking toward social responsibility and sustainability, retail dietitians should be aware of what product trends are hitting the market. Here are some top trends spotted at Expo West this year.
Versatile Veggies – Colorful vegetables are showing up in many forms and in an abundance of different foods. From unique frozen dishes to 100% vegetable chips and as an ingredient in pasta, bars and cereal. I really liked the creativity behind Roots Farm Fresh frozen sweet potato croutons and sweet potato “toast.” The croutons had some wonderful looking salad recipes, and the sweet potato hearty slices (toast) could easily be heated and topped in a variety of sweet and savory ways.
Plenty of Plant-Based Products – The plant-based craze was seen across the show floor with products of all kinds. Many frozen meals, meat substitutes, dairy alternatives and more. Plant Perks, a woman-owned company, shared their variety of plant-based “cheeze” spreads. Like many companies present, they promoted vegan products that they claimed would help save animals and the planet.
Going Nuts – There were too many nut and seed products to count. From flavored to fermented, every type of nut and seed was present as a packaged snack or added to products like crackers and cereals. There was also a vast array of nut milks. Pistachio nutmilk by three trees was new to me, and they assured us that the “floating fat bits” which appeared in your coffee after adding the nutmilk was as it should be.
Many Mushrooms – Mushrooms are everywhere and in everything! Not only could you buy kits to grow your own mushrooms, but they were in a variety of interesting products like mushroom coffee and jerky. Definitely an interesting umami flavor when I sampled the variety of Pan’s Mushroom Jerky which was being promoted as a nutritious alternative to meat jerky.
Sensational Snacks – It wasn’t surprising to see a huge number of “healthier” snack options available for today’s grazing consumers. Crackers made from cauliflower and avocado, seaweed in all different snack forms and many, many bars. There were also a lot of unique chip products like Wilde Protein Chips that were made from chicken, egg and bone broth.
Plentiful Pouches – Convenience seekers will love the many pouched products that came ready to heat and eat. From seasoned beans to multigrain quinoa blends and more. These items can be served as a nutritious side dish or used as a quick ingredient in simple recipes.
Beverages with Benefits – I lost track of the number of beverage products that were on the exhibit floor, and most touted specific health benefits. From tea for menopause to probiotic drinks for digestive health, to scary named thirst quenchers like Liquid Death. There was a drink to meet any consumer desire.
How Sweet it Is – Natural sweeteners were spread throughout the exhibit floor like never before. From the costly Manuka honey products to naturally derived avocado honey. Maple syrup was also strongly prominent as a natural sweetener as well as an ingredient in tasty products.
I don’t think I made it to all 3,183 vendors exhibiting at Expo West 2023, but it was fun to sample many new products and see what trends may be heading to supermarkets and specialty stores soon.