Last week I had the pleasure of attending Natural Products Expo West (or simply “Expo West” for those in the natural and organic industry), the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products event.
As you walk around the show, it’s amazing to see just how many natural and organic brands and products there are and then you start to notice several industry trends. Here are five that stood out to me:
- A better crunch. I couldn’t believe the amount of new crunchy snack items on display at the show. And, with each having something that makes it different – from new flavors to functional ingredients to a limited number of ingredients – these aren’t your standard chips and crackers. It’s clear that brands are looking to evolve the crunchy snacks consumers love to make them more nutritious and unique.
- Still nuts for coconut. I went into Expo West thinking the coconut craze from the past couple of years had passed. I was wrong. Coconut, especially coconut waters, are still hot, hot, hot. It seems this trend is here for at least another year.
- Sugar-free and proud. A focus on cutting back on sugar (even in chocolate) was evident at the show. From products touting “low-sugar” or “no-sugar” to a proliferation of sugar alternatives – especially monk fruit sweeteners – reducing or eliminating sugar is clearly a priority when it comes to new natural and organic products.
- The power of plants. Plant-based products are clearly here to stay. While nut milks are still quite high-profile, plant-based yogurts seem to be exploding in popularity. The amount of new plant-based products launched at the show is likely an indication of growing consumer demand for dairy-free options.
- Meat madness. Meat snacks (kind of a fancy way of saying jerky) were everywhere at Expo West. However, gone are the nitrates and chemicals that were typically found in these products. These new meat snacks are all about clean and minimal ingredients.
While these trends certainly speak to the growth and innovation in the natural and organic industry, what always strikes me at Expo West is the passion of the people who develop, market sell and buy these products. It really is a movement and community of people who want to make the world a heathier and more sustainable place. I certainly hope they succeed!