Every year, thousands of emerging and established CPG brands flock to Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim to debut new product innovations and explore the latest food and beverage trends. For our Brands Team, this is one of the most highly anticipated events, and this year even more so. We couldn’t wait to spread the word about our new data and insights platform and award the winners of our first-ever SnackNation Insights Awards! But at the end of the day, we’re still trend-spotters, eager to find the best products and trends our Members will love. Here are the seven Expo West trends that caught our eye and left us wanting more:
Lactose-free products aren’t a new trend by any means, but the diversity and innovation of today’s dairy-free products is unparalleled. On the Expo floor, brands like Malk touted cold-pressed pecan milk and walnut milk, and Elmhurst 1925 showcased their array of hemp creamers, oat milks and more. This trend has no signs of slowing down, with a recent Barclays study showing that Gen Z is consuming 550% more dairy-free milk beverages in comparison to prior generations. This bodes well for the dairy-free trend considering that Gen Z will make up 40% of consumers by 2020. Looks like future consumers will be saying, “Got organic, carrageenan-free nut milk?”
Long gone are the days of eggs only being available scrambled, sunny-side up or over-easy. With low-carb diets such as Paleo, Whole30 and Keto hailing the egg as a clean protein source, CPG brands are racing to harness its protein-rich, heart-healthy benefits in snackable form. At Expo, we saw the classic egg available in more innovative ways than ever, from bite-size options like Les Trois Petit Cochons’ sous-vide egg bites to Totally Egg’s natural egg white protein powder.
Photo courtesy of realbalanced.com
Artificial sugar has an undeniable effect on obesity, diabetes and heart health – and consumers are noticing. In fact, a recent Ipsos study found that 70% of Americans are either somewhat or very concerned about the level of sugar in their diets. Enter Monk Fruit. The natural sweetener and traditional Eastern medicine was seen across the Expo floor as CPG brands aim to deliver delicious sweets America craves, while simultaneously serving the desire for healthier options. Brands like Lakanto and Julian Bakery even offer pure Monk Fruit in the form of powders, syrups and more, making it seamless for health-conscious consumers to bake it into their everyday recipes.
With companies like Impossible Meat sprouting in markets and restaurants, and Nestle rising to the stage with meat alternative options, the plant-based meat space has gone from lackluster and predictable to booming and innovative. Brands like The Very Good Butchers claimed their stake at Expo West with a wide range of mock ribs and sausages while others like Strong Roots highlighted their plant-based bites ‘designed for busy lives’. The fierce competition among meat alternative brands could not only shape consumer behavior as taste grows more impressive, but could also have a positive effect on environmental sustainability in the long run.
More brands were bubbling up at this year’s Expo. Literally. With consumers’ shifting behavior around soda consumption, and the cultural affinity surrounding sparkling water brands like La Croix, more beverage brands were looking to capitalize on fizz in new, innovative ways. Sound showcased their line of sparkling teas with bold flavors like Chamomile with Vanilla and Elderflower and Rose Tea with Lime and Cardamom. While sparkling water hasn’t always been at the forefront of flavor, beverage brands at Expo West seemed eager to challenge the myth and push the boundaries of what ‘healthy soda’ can do.
Soup proved to be the new juice at Expo with brands serving up piping hot, protein-rich and plant-based soups in bottled form. Medlie (formerly Zupa Noma) catered to rising health trends with Whole-30 approved callouts and boasted nutrient-rich ingredients like superfoods and collagen. Skinny Souping, on the other hand, took a different approach with their ‘Signature Cleanse’ that combines alkaline water and plant-based soups to naturally detoxify and cleanse the body.
CBD, Of Course
Federal regulations surrounding CBD may still be muddled, but one thing is clear: CBD is here to stay. New Frontier Data estimated that in 2017 alone, the entire U.S. CBD industry jumped nearly 40%, growing to $367 million in sales. Soon, many brands will have a CBD SKU, and thus, brands that focus only on CBD may be in trouble if they don’t differentiate in other ways. How? By having a great brand, high quality ingredients that have been tested and verified, and the ability to know their customer and serve their inspirations better than the rest. At Expo, we saw a few brands doing this well including Gold Bee with their CBD softgels and tinctures and Weller’s with their new line of sparkling CBD drinks.
Did you attend Expo West 2019? Let us know which trends caught your eye in the comments below!