Natural Food Trends: Highlights from the Natural Products Expo West

The world’s largest trade show of natural and specialty food just wrapped up in Anaheim, Calif. The Natural Products Expo West is where companies showcase new products — which makes it an ideal place for tracking trends.  Carlotta Mast and Jenna Blumenfeld from New Hope Natural Media, producers of  Expo West, point to six key forces shaping the industry and driving the trends:

Ancient wisdom.  From chia to baobab, the market for whole, nutrient-dense ingredients has exploded.

Feed me. Forward-thinking companies are addressing the challenge and opportunity of feeding a growing population.

Food tribes. Increasingly, more consumers are gaining identity not by what they wear or where they live, but by what they eat or don’t eat.  Newer tribes include paganism (a blend of paleo and veganism),  lessitarians and flexitarians who may reduce intake of animal protein, grains, gluten or dairy.

Transcendent transparency. More companies are providing transparency through certifications and product claims, such as organic and gluten-free. Other aspects of transparency include clear packaging and front-of-package ingredient labeling, technology-enabled transparency, tracking and storytelling.

Snackification. Snacking is in, but traditional snack staples are out, with the rise of savory nutritious snacks.

The value(s) shopper. Consumers will pay more for products that deliver on demand for convenience and nutrition or support a good cause.


Here are 10 trends from Expo West, sourced from New Hope Natural Media:

1. Protein Power

Protein is the star again — with food, beverage and supplement products featuring new, innovative protein sources and higher levels of protein per serving.  From pea protein to cricket protein to products containing a mixture of both plant and animal protein, these ingredients are hot.

2. Paleo on Parade

The paleo trend continues to gain momentum, with the emergence of a new paleo certification, and more packaged foods made with simple, whole food ingredients that follow the paleo doctrine of no grains, processed sugars, dairy or legumes.

3. Mission Matters

More and more natural products companies are starting with a philanthropic mission and building a suite of natural, organic and healthy products to support and grow that mission and create a positive social impact.

coexist coffee4. Heritage to Hipster

“Old School,” traditional ingredients long known for their nutritional benefits such as apple cider vinegar and turmeric are popping up in new ways in foods, beverages and even dietary supplements.


5. Coconut Reimagined

Coconut has been a hot ingredient for several years, but now we are seeing the debut of new healthy packaged products featuring coconut in imaginative, new ways that provide the health benefits of coconut — often in place of less-healthy ingredients.

Jacksonshonestchips16. Probiotics Pop

Probiotics also continue to be hot, showing up in new supplemental formulations, cosmetics, green powders, snacks and even fresh-pressed juice.

7. Clean, Simple Ingredients Rule

Innovation is showing up as simplification, as the ingredient lists for products continue to get shorter and cleaner. There are many new food and beverage offerings that include only high-quality, whole food ingredients. The move to cleaner, food-based ingredients could also be seen in supplements and personal care.

8. Vegan On the Down Low

cooksimpleThe number of vegan foods and beverages is once again on the rise, but this year many vegan brands choose to emphasize the quality ingredients, delicious taste or mission of their products more so than their vegan positioning. The end result is a much more accessible offering for mainstream audiences.

9. Back to the Source

“Local” is for more than just the farmers market, with a growing number of exhibitors touting the sourcing stories behind their products. From ketchup made with only New Jersey-grown tomatoes to an entire supplement line featuring only ingredients grown in Nepal, the farm-to-field movement is taking on more local flavor. Fishpeople’s pouches include codes that enable consumers to track the ingredients.

fishpeople_food10. Water 3.0

The success of coconut water has everyone on the hunt for the next healthy billion dollar beverage concept. Emerging are numerous low-calorie plant waters: maple water, birch water, almond water, artichoke water, cactus water, olive water and watermelon water.cactus water

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