Category Archives: Trends

2019 Food Trends: Plant-Based Proteins

Plant-based foods are booming as Americans look to reduce meat consumption.

Plant-Based Protein 2019 Market Insights Slides
Download our Plant-Based Protein 2019 Market Insight slides here.

This is the first of a series of posts we will be making on Top Food Trends for 2019. To kick it off, we’ll begin with what we believe is the biggest food trend of the year: plant-based proteins.

What once was a small category reserved for the 5% of Americans that consider themselves vegetarian or 3% that consider themselves vegan (that’s according to Gallop) has now become one of the fastest growing trends in consumer packaged goods. From dairy alternative beverages to sports nutrition and everywhere in between, the plant-based protein trend has hit mainstream with a vengence.

Why is the category growing?

There are a lot of reasons but the main one is quite simple: Americans are reducing their consumption of meat. According to a recent 2017 study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 55% of consumers are reducing their consumption of processed meat and 41% are reducing their consumption of red meat. So while the number of Americans claiming to be vegetarian or vegan hasn’t changed since 2012, the number of Americans looking to reduce meat from their diet has grown considerably.

How do we know it’s a really big trend?

Even new quick serve restaurants are popping up regularly, entirely focused on this trend. Amy’s Drive Thru, a vegetarian fast food restaurant, is breaking ground on a third location this spring. Burger King just announced it will be offering the plant-based “Impossible Whopper” at several locations nationwide. (If you haven’t heard about the comotion Impossible Burger made at Expo West this year, you might want to read this.) When a food trend hits the fast food world, you KNOW it’s a big trend!

More Plant-Based Protein Insights

Curious to learn more about this top food trend for 2019? You can download our Plant-Based Protein Market Insights slides to uncover the powerful potential of the plant based proteins movement.

Top Trends at Expo East 2018

HQO's 8 Top Trends at Natural Products Expo EastWe were at the Natural Products Expo East show in Baltimore, MD a few weeks ago where over 1,500 brands were on showcase for more than 29,000 attendees. It’s amazing to see how the show grows each year! The food trends we see at Expo East usually echo a lot of the trends we see at Expo West. (In case you missed our video from this spring, watch it here: Top Trends at Expo West.)Before we get into our top trends, let’s talk about the amazing growth the natural food category is experiencing. Natural foods is booming! Combined U.S. sales of natural, organic and functional foods and beverages increased 6.5% to $143 billion in 2017 according to New Hope Media while the food industry as a whole only grew about 1.1%. (Source: OTA 2018 Industry Survey)Not only is the natural food category growing, it’s setting the standard for how food is grown and made. Certified organic, Fair Trade, clean label, sustainable seafood, regenerative agriculture and more are all movements and missions that have ignited the wave of change we’re starting to see throughout the entire food industry.But we’re not just seeing environmental and socially responsible trends start in natural foods. We’re also seeing more flavor and packaging innovation come from this highly entrepreneurial sector. The amazing innovation from these small business owners is why we always make sure to attend Expo East – to see the trends and meet some of the new companies and concepts that will, no doubt, be household names in a few years.

Here are the top food trends we saw at Expo East 2018:

1. Vegetables

Food Trends at Expo East: Vegetables

Vegetables and mushrooms continue to be big at the show. Four Sigmatic, which already has somewhat of a cult following, showed one of many innovative ways to enjoy the health benefits of mushrooms, in fall-favorite latte mixes! And Cece’s Veggie Company’s veggie meals, which launched at Expo East, are showing how vegetables can have a center-of-the-plate focus. As consumers look to eat more plants and fewer animal products, we expect vegetables will continue to be a trending item at future shows.


2. Fat is Back

Love Good Fats Snack Bar

Fat is showing up in new and exciting ways. Our Expo West Trends Video from last March highlighted alternative fats being used in snacks but now we’re even seeing it called out in other items such as Love Good Fats’ snack bars. It’s a great time to capitalize on the great flavor, function and health benefits certain fats can provide.


3. Plant-Based Protein

Food Trends at Expo East: Plant-Based Protein

While vegan and vegetarian eaters may comprise a small segment of the population – only 6% of the population identify themselves as vegetarians and 3% as vegans (source: Gallop) – the plant-based food offerings available at retail have doubled between 2009 and 2013 (source: Mintel). And the momentum appears to continue as we saw even more plant-based offerings at Expo East this year. Be sure to watch out for Alpha Foods’ burritos and pot pies. They were a hit at the show!


4. Snack Food Evolution

Food Trends at Expo East: Snack food evolution

The snack food category shows no sign of slowing down. Organic snacks were up 9% in 2017 according to IRI.  Alternative options such as dried fruit and nuts show a lot of growth and a myriad of available flavor combinations are creating options for every taste bud out there. Chili-based flavors seemed to be the most popular this year along with combining savory and sweet. The most interesting snack we saw at the show was Taali’s Water Lily Pops, a popped lotus seed snack that’s popular in India. We are betting it could easily replace your popcorn addiction. (Try them!)

5. The Beverage Boom Continues

Food Trends at Expo East: Beverage Boom

Beverages continue to boom in the natural foods sector. Organic beverage sales rose 10.5% ($5.9 billion) according to the OTA and fresh juice has been the primary driver. Kombucha and flavored waters continue to be strong as well and we saw numerous examples of them at the show. However, the most unique new beverage at Expo East, we think, was Treo Birch Water. Birch water is a low-calorie drink (only 10 calories per serving!) with a slightly sweet taste and a natural source of minerals.

6. A Ready-to-Eat Revolution in Frozen

Food Trend at Expo East: Frozen Foods Revolution

The frozen foods aisle has been needing some disruption for a while and new and old companies are answering the call. A product that caught our attention at Expo East was Wildscape, a division of Nestle. They’re introducing a completely new concept to the frozen foods section. Their ready-to-eat containers look like they came from your favorite take-out place, not the frozen food aisle! And, what’s inside is even more exciting; on-trend ingredients and flavors such as cauliflower and chickpeas, freekah, Peri Peri, turmeric and more.

7. Ethnic Flavors Excite

Food Trends at Expo East: Ethnic Flavors

Ethnic flavors are showing up in all food categories, especially snack foods and ready-to-eat products. Innova Market Insights notes there’s been a 20% increase in food and beverages launched with global flavors from 2013-2017. We loved the genius idea behind Haven’s Kitchen Sauces, fresh ingredients, ethnic-inspired flavors an innovative packaging that reduces waste. BOOM! We can’t wait to see how this company grows in the coming years.

8. Food is Medicine

Food Trends at Expo East: Food as Medicine

Ancient ingredients, especially those used in Ayurvedic medicine, continue to gain popularity in many functional and everyday foods. Turmeric has been going strong for a few years and still had a good presence at the show. Ginger is another ingredient that has become well established. However, an emerging ingredient to watch is ashwagandha, a root plant that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to help the body cope with stress. According to Nielsen, ashwagandha, while still a niche ingredient, had triple-digit growth in 2017.

High Quality Organics Now Offers Certified Halal

Halal Certification SealHigh Quality Organics (HQO) is now able to provide its customers with certified halal organic herbs and spices, botanicals and more. This spring, HQO underwent the Halal certification process due to the growing market for halal certified products. We wanted to be ahead of the curve on this emerging market opportunity for our customers. Currently, several of our top-selling culinary blends are certified Halal. If you are looking for a specific organic ingredient that is also Halal certified, contact us. Most of High Quality Organics’ ingredients qualify for Halal certification within five to seven business days.

According to the U.S. Halal Association, about 25% of the world (1.6 billion people) are Muslim and certified Halal products represent a global market value of approximately $643 billion.

The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America outlines what is required to be certified halal. Companies must be in good standing and ensure their products are:

  • Free from pork and any of its by-products
  • Animals are properly slaughtered by
  • Free from alcohol or intoxicants
  • Carnivorous animals or birds of prey
  • Blood or blood by-products

If you are interested in purchasing Halal Certified organic ingredients, please contact us today.

Trends from Natural Products Expo West 2016

Natural Products Expo West LogoNatural Products Expo West is the mecca for all things organic and natural food related.  High Quality Organics has been involved with the show for several years and every year, the show gets bigger and better.  This year was no exception.  Not only was the entire Anaheim Convention Center and outdoor plaza taken up by the show, even the adjacent Hilton hotel had booths in it! It truly is great to be part of this industry during such an exciting time of growth.

In addition to having a booth at the show, HQO had several team members on hand to meet with customers, walk the show and take in the trends.  Below are some of the top trends we saw. You can catch more information on products that fit these trends in our Top Three Trends from 2016 Expo West Trends Video.

Bite-Sized Snacks – While we’ve seen it before, this year bite-sized snacks seemed to be EVERYWHERE! Vegetables are having a big moment and enjoying some sexy attention in the snacked isle; beets especially. A plethora of popcorn was seen as were dried chickpeas, hummus snack packs and more.  But what we thought was really apparent this year was bite-sized snacks. Clusters, nuggets or bites were marketed down almost every isle.


Epic not only has meat-based bars, they have jerky, salad bits, snack bites, meat-based trail mixes, bone broth and animal fats for cooking.

Meat Snacks/Jerky – Another item that’s not necessarily new but seemed to be extra prevalent this year was jerky or meat snacks. Protein has been a trend for awhile and it makes perfect sense that convenient items like jerky and meat-base bars or bites are an attractive option to time-strapped consumers.  We’re big fans of Epic bars and loved the innovative flavors we were seeing with many jerky companies, especially Chef’s Cut.

Plant-Based Proteins – While meat is having a moment in the snacking category, plant-based proteins are propelling into greater popularity as consumers recognize their health benefits and reduced environmental footprint.  Approximately 36% of Americans are looking for meat substitutes and plant-based proteins are a logical solution. Pulses (primarily beans), hemp seeds, quinoa, peas and nuts are just a few of the plant-based proteins we saw in a wide variety of products throughout the show.  Some of our favorite companies in this segment are Beyond Meat and Quorn. Learn more about Quorn’s amazingly innovative source of protein in our 2016 Expo West Trends video.

beetnik foods provides organic pasta sauces in the freezer section.

beetnik foods provides organic pasta sauces in the freezer section.

Convenient Gourmet – Millennials are driving a lot of trends these days and the this one is no exception.  While the young professionals that make up the millennial generation have palates that have been exposed to a wide variety of flavors and cuisines, they still want the convenience of a meal you can make in minutes. Millennials want fresh, bold flavors that are natural and organic and the food industry is beginning to deliver. High-end frozen sauces that simply need to be thawed and heated were one of the favorite new items we saw in this category at Expo West. Stay tuned; I think we are going to see a lot more exciting things to come in the frozen foods section as everything from breakfast foods to vegetables gets a makeover to address the demands of this care-free generation.

ZenMonkeyBreakfast Bowls – The breakfast is one of the fastest growing categories in grocery. While consumers strive to eat and live healthier, breakfast can sometimes be a challenge as it is often the most time-strapped period of the day. Breakfast bowls are an excellent solution to hurried, health-conscious consumer that needs a grab and go option. We’ve seen oatmeal cups on the market for a few years now but Zen Monkey’s breakfast bowl is an entirely new take on the concept. The oats are soaked, not cooked, and mixed with yogurt and fresh fruit. For those that want something warm, Good Food Made Simple has four egg white breakfast bowls in various flavor combinations.

Demeter Certified Biodynamic – While still an emerging trend, Demeter Certified is definitely something on our radar. It was a notable attraction at BioFach in Germany earlier in the year and definitely had a strong presence at Expo West. Learn more about what this certification means and some of the companies marketing Demeter Certified product in our video, What is Biodynamic and Demeter Certified.


Trends from BioFach 2016


High Quality Organic’s European Team: Ryan Powers and Stephan Companger

As a leader in organic ingredients, High Quality Organics makes a point to attend BioFach in Nuremberg, Germany every year.  BioFach is the largest organic tradeshow in the world, with over 48,000 attendees from 130 different countries and 2,325 exhibitors. This year, our European team showcased some of our top-selling superfoods maca root, kale powder, turmeric, quinoa and yerba mate while members of our North American team walked the show, met with suppliers and took in the trends that are taking shape in the European market.  Below are the top trends our team saw at the show.

Superfoods – This area of the food industry appears to be constantly evolving. This year our team saw a lot of maca, kale, turmeric (known as curcumen in Europe) and baobab in everything from smoothies to energy bars.

How are these superfoods being used? You can learn all about organic maca root in our product highlight sheet here. Organic kale powder is a versatile superfood being used in smoothies, baked goods and snack foods while turmeric is expanding its reach into teas, rice dishes, smoothies and juices. If you’re interested in purchasing bulk supplies of organic maca, kale and turmeric powder, you can contact a HQO sales representative at 775-971-8550 or email us.

Coconut  – Coconut water took North America by storm a few years ago, growing 50% between 2013-2015, and while the growth of coconut water has slowed, it’s still showing double digit increases year over year.  At the same time, other coconut-based products (oil, flakes, sugar) are making a stronger presence in the marketplace.  During the show, our team saw several uses of coconut products in a wide variety of food products.

Biodynamic & Demeter Certified – This was the number one trend our CEO, Raju Boligala, noted at BioFach.  All of us at HQO were stumped. We knew about biodynamic but had never heard of Demeter. Low and behold it’s the oldest ecological certification in the world! You can learn more about biodynamic agriculture and Demeter certified product in our latest video here.

Plant-Based Proteins – While only 6% of Americans claim to be vegan and 7% claim to be vegetarian, over 36% of Americans prefer to use plant-based alternatives when it comes to animal products. Additional research shows anywhere from 26%-41% of people are consuming less animal products than they did a year ago.  So, what does that mean for the food industry? Consumers are seeking out more plant-based food solutions, especially when it comes to protein.  At BioFach, our team noticed a significant amount of hemp seeds, quinoa and chia seeds in a variety of foods, especially baked goods.

HQO sampled organic smoothies with kale powder and organic yerba mate (a naturally energizing tea) during BioFach 2016.

HQO sampled organic smoothies with kale powder and organic yerba mate (a naturally energizing tea) during BioFach 2016.

Digestion-Focused Foods – More and more people are learning that the health of our body is largely related to the health of our gut. Probiotics, yogurt and kefir have, as a result, seen significant growth in recent years. (Probiotic supplements grew 30% year over year in 2013 according to Eric Pierce of New Hope Media.) Other products that encourage digestion or are anti-inflammatory have also been growing. Two very popular items noted at BioFach were ginger-based a turmeric-based drinks. Ginger, long known to aid in digestion, has been available in tea form for some time.  However, we’re seeing it pop up in more beverages like fresh-pressed juice and smoothie mixes. As noted above, turmeric-based juices and smoothies were also seen in abundance.

Ready-To-Eat Organic Shelf-Stable Meals – More and more consumers are demanding convenient foods that are equally nutritious. Millennials are driving this need and food companies in Europe are answering with shelf-stable meals that are certified organic. Our team saw several new products throughout BioFach.

Organic Cotton Clothes – While it still remains a small segment of the organic industry, organic textiles growing. In fact, the Organic Trade Association’s 2016 Industry Survey notes that organic fiber (mainly cotton) is the fastest growing portion of the non-food segment and its expected to grow even faster in 2016, at roughly 16%. During BioFach, Our team witnessed many organic cotton clothing products and noted they definitely had more of a presence than years past.

Were you or members or your company in attendance at BioFach this year? If so, what trends did you see?


Trends from the 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show

The 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco was booming with tens of thousands of attendees, over 1,500 exhibitors and hundreds of new products.  High Quality Organics‘ Research and Development team tasted or tested dozens upon dozens of products as they walked every inch of the Specialty Food Association’s premier tradeshow.  Below is what they witnessed and what you should watch for in the coming months.

2016 Winter Fancy Food Trends Infographic



2016 Food Trends

2016_1_7_HQO 2016 Food Trends InfographicAs a leading provider of bulk organic and non-GMO ingredients, High Quality Organics is at the forefront of the organic food industry. Our constant interaction with most American food companies allows us to identify upcoming trends consumers will likely see in the marketplace in the coming 12-24 months.

Click on the image to see what our food trend predictions are for 2016.

If you have any questions on the ingredients we mention, please feel free to contact us at 715-212-2910.

Summer Fancy Food Show Recap

Summer Fancy Food Show LogoEarlier this month, over 180,000 products from nearly 2,500 food manufacturers were showcased at The Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.  HQO had two representatives on site to walk the show and scope out the major trends. Here’s what they saw:

1. Chocolate – No news here. Chocolate is always big at the Fancy Food Show.  However, there seems to be a continued surge in the use of herbs and spices in chocolate.  One of the most unique combinations we saw this year was chocolate with chillies and cherries.

2014_7_18_FFS Olive Oil & Vinegars2. Vinegars and Olive Oils – Specialty oils and vinegars continue to have a strong presence at the show. This year we’ve been seeing considerably more herb and spice infused products.  Some unexpected flavor combinations were olive oil with lavender and balsamic vinegar with espresso.

3. Popcorn – Snacks have been a big trend for at least a year and they show no sign of loosing steam.  Popcorn was the leader, by far, with new twists: sweet toppings like chocolate and caramel, half-popped popcorn and petite maize.

4. Salami (Charcuterie) – Salamis and sausages are found in abundance at the Fancy Food Show.  This year we started to see more all natural and no preservative varieties. Also, olives stuffed with carrots and capers.

5. Coconut Water – It’s still going strong! Coconut water is still popping up in lots of places at the show. We also saw it being used in a variety of other ways. Our consensus: coconut is here to stay.

To get a sneak peak at some of the emerging trends, be sure to check out the Specialty Foods Association’s Top Trends article.

Game Day Hot Wings!

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, these hot n’ spicy wings are a sure fire way to have a great party!

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 3.32.01 PM

You’ll need: 2 cups of all purpose flour, 3 tbsp of organic paprika, 3 tbsp of organic adobo, 3 tbsp pf organic chili powder, 1 tsp of kosher salt, 2 lbs of organic chicken wings, canola oil, 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, 1/4 cup hot sauce and blue cheese dressing



Step 1: Add 2 inches of oil to a pan and place over medium high heat. Then add all your spices to your flour and mix well.


Step 2: Dredge your chicken in your seasoned flour and gently place in hot oil. Avoid over-crowding by working in batches.

Fry each batch for 10 minutes until golden brown.

Step 3: Remove crispy wings and allow to drip dry on a cooling rack


Step 4: Make your wing sauce by melting the butter in a sauce pan and adding in your hot wing sauce.

Step 5: Coat your wings in the hot wing sauce and serve with blue cheese dressing and an ice cold beer. Enjoy!


Paleo-Friendly Easy Mashed Cauliflower


Mashed cauliflower is a great addition or substitute to your classic mashed potato side dish.

Mashed cauliflower is a great addition or substitute to your classic mashed potato side dish.

As the Paleo diet – a diet that encourages one to eat like our ancestors and limit processed foods, dairy, many grains and sugar – becomes more popular, we’re seeing a lot more people searching for recipes that meet the diet’s criteria.  (In fact, even Whole Foods is opening a new store in San Francisco with a Paleo Bar! Read about it here.)

In leu of this food trend, we thought it would be helpful to provide you with a great-tasting recipe that could easily be swapped for mashed potatoes at your Thanksgiving meal.

NOTE: If your party isn’t on the Paleo diet and you’d still like to try this, I’d encourage using 50% cauliflower and 50% mashed potatoes (non-Paleo ingredients and directions are below the Paleo version).  For some people, the taste of cauliflower can be quite strong so this softens the cauliflower flavor a bit and makes the dish all the more nutritious…and an excellent way to get children to eat cauliflower!

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower is essentially like making mashed potatoes - just swap the cauliflower for potatoes.

Mashed Cauliflower is essentially like making mashed potatoes – just swap the cauliflower for potatoes.

Ingredients – Paleo Diet Version
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of any of the following: ground sage, rosemary or thyme
1 tablespoon chopped chives, reserving half for garnish on top)
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Wash and chop cauliflower. Place in a microwavable bowl with 1-2 tablespoons water, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 5-8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender (you can easily put a fork through the spears).
Step 2: Drain the cauliflower
Step 3: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend. 
Ingredients – Non-Paleo Version
4 cups chopped cauliflower
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes (keep the skins on for added fiber and nutrition)
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup 2% milk
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives, reserving half for garnish
Step 1: Wash and chop cauliflower and potatoes.  Add the cauliflower to a microwave safe bowl, add 1-2 tablespoons water and cover with plastic wrap. Cook on high for 5-8 minutes or until they are tender and you can easily stick a fork through them.  Then, do the same with the potatoes. (Don’t combine them as the potatoes have more starch and will take longer to cook.) NOTE: You can also steam these on the stove.  Just put a cup of water at the bottom of a very large pot, place a heat-proof colander over and place the vegetables in the colander. Cover bring the water to a boil. Stir the vegetables on occasion to ensure they’re cooked evenly. 
Step 2: Combine butter and milk in a microwavable bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds or until butter is melted.
Step 3: Drain the vegetables and place in a large bowl. Mash by hand or use a hand mixer while slowly adding the melted milk and butter mixture and sour cream, little amounts at a time until the consistency you desire is reached. 
Step 4: Season with chives, salt and pepper and serve.

 Do you have a healthy spin on mashed potatoes? If so, we’d love to hear it. Or, if you have a “secret ingredient” for yours, please share.

Happy Thanksgiving!