Expo West from Afar
While I couldn’t attend Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim this year, I did follow reporting on the event with interest. Over the years, I’ve come to think of this trade show as an indication of what’s to come in the mainstream food industry, particularly among health-forward food and beverage products.
Expo West is a showcase for new product launches in the better-for-you arena, and with two years of pent-up innovation, apparently it didn’t disappoint. From all reports, attendees and exhibitors alike were glad to be back together. The exhibit floor was crowded, and innovation was rampant with plant-based everything along with a large serving of better-for-you on top.
The professional trend watchers at Stylus Media Group summarized the natural products trends from the expo into five buckets.
1. Indulgent health
The shift in consumer mindsets away from specific diets and toward proactive health and wellness, has brought healthy/better-for-you foods out of the shadows and into the mainstream. People may want nutritionally positive foods to maintain and support their well-being, but of course, they don’t want to sacrifice taste in the process.
2. International inspiration
Reflecting the increasing interest in global flavors in the U.S., brands added lots of international flavors to new product launches at the show. Mexican, Asian and Mediterranean flavors
3. Evolved on-pack claims
On pack real estate is switching from conversations about how foods fit dietary patterns to sourcing and production methods. Everything from upcycling to allergen-free to regenerative agriculture is now being touted on packaging.
4. Preparing for post-pandemic life
As people resume life outside their homes, brands are focusing on new products to make the transition smoother with on-the-go breakfast and lunch items.
5. Flavor trends
Agnostic flavor combinations that seamlessly flit across food and beverage categories are the order of the day. The same flavor can be used in a plant-based yogurt or on a savory snack. Pineapple-coconut, ginger-lime, mango-guava are all adding a tropical flavor to food and beverages.
A fruit-filled bounty
As an unabashed fruit advocate, here are some of the new products that debuted at Expo West that caught my attention.
Forget about stealth health, brands are now loud and proud of their fruit- and veggie-packed products. Take for example:
Cerebelly Smart Bars
Cerebelly promotes its brand as the “only baby food with 16 key brain-supporting nutrients.” Organic Strawberry Beet and Apple Kale Smart Bars pair fruit and veggies to deliver brain power for growing children. I love to see apples and strawberries promoted as brain food.
Santa Cruz Sensible Sippers
Here’s another example of a fruit/veggie combo delivering positive nutrition. Sensible Sippers is a new line of organic juice blends that combines fruit and zucchini to reduce sugar contents by 25%. Varieties include apple, grape, fruit punch and lemonade.
Zego Sunny Day Fruit & Veggie Bars
Zego Foods certifies all its bars allergen free of the top allergens. What I found interesting is the new fruit and veggie bars (apple cherry and apple raspberry) are made with fruit purees, fruit juice concentrates and vitamin D2 mushroom powders. Hence the “Sunny Day” reference. It left me wondering why they didn’t call them fruit and fungi bars, though.
Speaking of fungi – mushrooms were a hot ticket at the show from dehydrated mushroom snacks to mushroom-powered energy drinks and gummies.
Dirt Kitchen Pressed Bars
I was attracted to this line because Dirt Kitchen says it makes its snacks from rescued fruit. This is something Tree Top has been doing for years. So, it’s great to see others joining our quest. Dirt Kitchen Pressed Bars come in four flavors – Apricot + Beet + Pumpkin Seed, Almond + Raisin + Carrot, Tomato + Raisin + Black Pepper, and Apple + Cinnamon + Carrot.
This Canadian brand recently introduced into the U.S. is another like-minded company that rescues produce before it becomes food waste and makes it into beverages – cold-pressed smoothies and juices, prebiotic sodas, beer, and gin. I say, “cheers” to that.
Ube – a brightly hued purple yam – is the star of this Filipino brand’s coconut and purple yam jam. Banana Ketchup is another condiment with fruit flair that debuted from the N.J.-based company, which is offering authentic flavor combos from the Philippines.
rollin’ n bowlin’
The newest offering from this young brand from Texas is a line of Medjool dates filled with almond butter, peanut butter, and a peanut butter cacao mix. Great for an on-the-go breakfast or snack.
If all this fruit-filled new product talk has inspired you, let’s talk. Fruit ingredients offer both flavor and function to product development. Want sweetness without added sugar? Need a source of natural color with fiber as a bonus? Our application and R&D scientists are here to help.