March 10-13 | Anaheim, California

80,000 people attended Natural Products Expo West, exploring around 15,000 brand booths. We made great connections and enjoyed our time with the food industry community.

Our top five takeaways from Expo West this year reflect consumer desires for a better quality of life.

1. Healthy-for-you
Healthy-for-you is gaining momentum. New products are a direct reflection of today’s savvy consumer, who is connected to a vast and rich social media community. Today’s millennial consumer follows those individuals they see as thought leaders in healthy eating and who care about the environment and its sustainability. Biodegradable packaging, carbon footprints, etcetera do make a difference to discerning consumers.

2. Fermented foods
Fermented foods and beverages are popping up all over. Vinegars, shrubs (fermented syrup used in cocktails), kombucha, keifers, pickles, and sauerkrauts are leading the way in possibilities/food choices to bolster the gut microbiome.

3. Prebiotics and probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are finding new meaning and a plethora of applications in the food a beverage world of manufacturing. Prebiotic food choices trending are oatmeal, granolas, and flax seeds. Probiotics are proving advantageous for those desirous of a stronger healthier immune system. I saw a lot of cereals, bars, and other snack items that have added probiotics. Not all sources and forms of probiotic bacterias are equal in veracity and stability. Do your research before choosing wisely.

4. Clean protein sources
Clean protein sources with flavor and ease of use are finding their way into convenient packaging and shelf stable forms. Nuts, seeds, legumes, seafood, red meat jerkies and cheeses are becoming readily available to the discerning consumer.

Chickpeas/garbanzo beans are a great example of a clean protein source that is growing in popularity. Chickpeas offer a great alternate protein source for vegans and vegetarians. From chickpea pasta, to ranch and habanero flavored baked chickpeas, to chocolate-covered offerings; I saw a lot chickpea products. Consumers are learning the value of this legume as a great source of protein and yummy flavor!

5. Food and nutrition bars
Food and nutrition bars are not dead! Many brands are creating delicious and healthy bars. Consumers are drawn to them because of their health benefits and convenience.

6. Superfoods
Superfoods—like acai, beets, and coconut, among many others—are showing up in snack and beverage products. Superfoods are considered to be especially beneficial for health, and many brands are creating products featuring superfoods as the main ingredient.

7. “Healthy” snack products
Not all “natural” snack products are created equal. I have seen this in years past, but continue to see a large amount of “healthy” snack product offering that are high in refined sugars, oils, and other additives. I noticed our freeze-dried and air-dried fruit gained a good interest based on first, the amazing flavor, and second, the fact that there is no added sugars or oils in our products.

For in-depth articles on Expo West in past years, visit this page.

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