Natural Products Expo East wrapped up earlier this month with over 1,550 brands presenting to an estimated 29,000 attendees about the latest and greatest innovations in natural foods and beverages. The annual organic and natural food convention was held again this year at Baltimore Convention Center, though next year will be the first year in Philadelphia.
Several Alliance Natural associates were in attendance to learn about the future of natural. If you missed the show this year, we’ve compiled a list of Expo East trends our team spotted to give you insight into the channel.
Expo East Trends 2019:
1. Plant Based Lifestyle
Plant-based food is officially mainstream. While big names like Impossible are making waves at quick service restaurants, emerging brands like No Evil Foods have quietly created excellent plant-based meat alternatives.
The rise of the “flexitarian” diet, where people eat less meat but don’t go fully vegetarian, has contributed to the success of meat alternatives. Why now? Well, 62% of flexitarians say they’re motivated by environmental concerns. That’s why brands like No Evil have fully embraced the ethical motivations behind plant-based foods—leaning into sustainable, eco-friendly packaging, a philanthropic mission, and targeted messaging. Expect to see more companies go green and embrace the power of plants.
2. Hemp is Here
For the first time in Expo East history there was a dedicated “Hemp Pavilion” for CBD and other cannabis-based products. There were more than 50 CBD and hemp booths at the show this year, and there is no sign of the trend slowing down.
But what is CBD? CBD or cannabidiol is a compound naturally found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the psychoactive compound THC, CBD does not get someone “high.” Medicinally, it’s only approved use is to treat epilepsy, but studies (and brands) suggest that it is also useful for relieving pain and treating anxiety. There are a lot of question marks around CBD, including the fact that cannabis is still illegal at the federal level in the United States.
However, brands have infused CBD oil into cookies, coffee, seltzer water, and more! Expect more brands to jump on the bandwagon in the coming years.
3. Paleo, Keto, Whole 30 – Oh My!
Clean eating diets like paleo, keto, and whole 30 have also increased in popularity. The no-carb, no-sugar, natural focus of these diets makes them excellent additions to organic brands portfolios. Keto in particular has been on fire recently—becoming the highest searched-for food topic on Google last year.
One trend within this category? MCT oil. MCT oil is a “healthy fat” that is often described as kick starter for the ketogenic process. It is becoming a more popular food and beverage additive as more people embrace the keto diet. One company, KITU Super Coffee, uses MCT oil derived from coconuts, claiming it “provides clean energy, optimizes cognitive function and balances mood.”
These are just some of the Expo East trends that our Alliance associates noticed on the convention floor. Alliance is always on the cutting edge of trends in the food and beverage industry, whether it be natural products or conventional. If your brand would like to stay up to date with the latest and greatest industry knowledge, reach out to us today!