Early March, thousands of food and beverage companies descend upon Anaheim, California, to reveal their newest and most exciting products launching in 2018. At Expo West, our Snack Selection team got the first look at the food and drinks that are about to hit the market.
For four days, our snack experts sipped, crunched, and chewed on dozens of snacks. After reviewing their carefully detailed notes, tallying up their favorites and fighting over the last sample, they’re revealing the top 12 trends in snacks.
Here is your first look at the most innovative trends in snacks this year:
1. Mood boosters
Ingredients that have typically only been popular in the supplement industry are making their way into food and beverages. Think MCT oil, nootropics, and adaptogens. Awareness of the benefits of such ingredients for stress management and energy has snowballed into a rapid proliferation of options that satisfy your craving and your mental needs.
2. Plant-based For All
The alternative trend took root and has been taking off in the last year with no signs of slowing down. Veganism’s health and environment-focused counterpart is driven by increasingly educated customers who are seeking products that have a lesser impact on the environment and a beneficial effect on their long-term health.
3. Collagen, Welcome to the Party
Collagen supplements are coming off the shelves and into jerkies, bars, and bites. These snacks deliver the same skin, hair, joint and gut benefits in a tasty and satisfying snack. The collagen market is booming as more and more people discover the effectiveness of the ingredient.
4. Crushing Keto
A small fringe trend called the ketogenic diet is now a full-blown lifestyle making ways in even mainstream circles. But it’s no longer good enough to call yourself low-carb, keto certifications are the new stamp of approval for foods competing for the small daily budget of carbs allowed by each keto abider.
Try: Bhu Fit Foods & KetoSweets (literally just launched by Factory CPG)
5. RIP Grain
We all knew it was just a matter of time till ‘grain-free’ crept across all the categories. Is grain-free the new gluten-free? Originating in the paleo community, grain-free diets promise better gut health and more sustained energy. Traditional flours are being replaced with finely ground almonds, peas, and coconut.
6. Turmeric Still…
It wasn’t just hot in 2017. With plenty of buzz around inflammation in 2018, we can only expect turmeric products to fill our pantries and serve as the save-all of 2018. Turmeric boasts benefits including improved cognitive function, reduction in the symptoms of depression, and the treatment of Alzheimer’s so it’s no wonder that our snack friends are helping us get our daily dose.
7. Getting Salty
Yes, salt dates back past 6000 BC but even ancient things make a come back (ie, bell bottoms and platforms.) See ya Kosher and Table, new flavors and uses are stepping in and it’s impressive. Our friend Pink Himalayan has been around the block but this year, look out for infused varieties.
8. Nighty Night
The fact that Americans are more stressed than ever hasn’t been lost on snack and beverage companies. Household caffeine and energy products and now being joined by brands that are encouraging wakeful calm and relaxation during the day and deep uninterrupted sleep at night vias a host of new ingredients such as Tulsi and L-theanine.
9. Bites & Balls
It’s not that bars aren’t cool, it’s just that bites and balls are tough competition. Energy and superfood balls are a big player this year, offering the same satisfy and chewy experience as bars but a little bit more playful, plus you can mix and match!
10. Cauliflower Power
Sure, cauliflower has been around the Expo block a time or two but it appears to have made it known that it’s here to stay. Now in crisp and still in crust form. Cauliflower seems to be the millennial’s replacement for gluten, sugar, grains, and meat but we don’t hate it.
Try: Halen Brands, From The Ground Up Cauliflower
11. FODMAP 101
It’s now kinda cool to chat IBS. Basically, a ton of people have issues absorbing small chain carbs and they’re hungry. Brands have recognized the need and are delivering. FODMAP certified foods had a presence at Expo, promising all the flavor without the upset stomach. We think this trend will stick around, too.
Try: Fody’s Low FODMAP Bars
12. Puff It Likes It’s Hot
Chips will always have their place on the shelves because well….no explanation needed here. But their light and grease-free cousin is stepping into the spotlight. Puffs are popping up with clean ingredient lists, exotic flavors, and unique shapes and textures.
From superfoods to protein-packed, brands were puffing up all over.