We 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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
5 Organic Food Industry Trends You Need to Know
Most know without reading a single word of research that the organic food movement is growing. Organic products are throughout most grocery stores and making major inroads in wholesale clubs (Read: Costco sells more organic food than Whole Foods) and convenience stores. Organic beauty products and pet foods are showing huge growth potential with new products popping up at every tradeshow we attend. To keep your thumb on the pulse of the organic food industry, we’ve honed in on 5 Organic Food Industry Trends You Need to Know:
Market to the Millennial – According to a survey published by the Organic Trade Association in September 2016, 52% of organic buyers are millennials. And they aren’t new to organics. Many of them grew up eating organic food so they are much more familiar with what organic means and why it’s important. They are also the most adventurous and worldly demographic; open to experimentation in the kitchen with a keen eye for global flavors. If you’re creating an organic food product, make sure it resonates with the millennial shopper.
Not Just Any Produce, Value-Added Produce – Organic produce is growing in general. According to the Organic Trade Association and Nielsen, the organic produce category grew 16.4% in 2015. However, the real opportunity is in value-added produce. This relates to the millennial shopper that wants convenience, flavor and fun delivered with their cooking experience. The addition of organic herbs and spices provide a great opportunity to add value to this organic category favorite.
Wholesale Clubs are Hot – We mentioned it at the top of the article but it bares repeating, Costco sells more organic food than Whole Foods! There is a huge opportunity here for almost any organic food manufacturer. Organic food has been wildly successful in club formats and they are always looking for new products to bring their customers in the door more frequently.
Foodservice is the New Frontier – We’re not talking white tablecloth restaurants.(Although many have been passionate promoters of organics for decades.) We’re talking about the quick service restaurant (QSR) category. Amy’s opened their first restaurant this year. The mostly organic, all-vegetarian menu is a nod to what many say is the future of fast food. And, to further confirm how convinced Costco’s top management is of the organic opportunity, The Organic Coup, America’s first certified organic fast food restaurant, opened in California this spring with the financial backing of Costco’s founder and former CEO, Jim Sinegal, and Chief Financial Officer, Richard Galanti.
Meal Kit Mania – It’s the big disrupter. A game changer. We joke at HQO that it’s the “Amazon.com affect.” Consumers don’t want to go to stores anymore. They want everything delivered to their doorstep – including their next fresh, made-from-scratch meal. Meal kit delivery services are popping up left and right to answer the call. Some give caution to this rapidly growing food frontier. It’s full of a lot of newbies. Meanwhile, established food brands and grocery stores are also starting to get into the mix. Regardless, it’s not to be ignored. Packaged Facts values the industry at $1.5 billion with the expectation that it will double in the next few years. Blue Apron alone reportedly ships 8 million meals per month. Many of these meal kit services focus on fresh, organic ingredients and the door-to-door service gives the food industry and new and intimate opportunity to share the food story with the consumer.
It is abruptly clear. These five trends give us an exciting and optimistic message. There’s no better time for the organic food industry to make an even bigger imprint at the American dinner table.
What the GMO Labeling Law Means for Your Food Business
On August 1, 2016 President Obama signed a GMO Labeling bill into law and overrides the Vermont GMO Labeling Law that went into effect on July 1, 2016. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has two years to write the rules. (Which means food companies will likely have until August 2018 – possibly longer- to comply.)
The good news? If you already produce certified organic food products, you are already non-GMO. That is because any grower or food manufacturer that wishes to become USDA Certified Organic must abstain from using any genetically modified ingredients. Therefore, if you’d like, you can add a statement on your package such as, “GMO Free,” or “Made with non-GMO Ingredients,” or “Always Organic, Always non-GMO,” etc. However, if you’re not certified organic but still want to make a non-GMO claim, you will need to go through the non-GMO Certified process.
The bad news? This federal law is said to be a much more confusing and less impactful than what was passed in Vermont for one main reason, how the on-package labeling is to appear. For example, the Vermont law required that any product containing GMOs must state, “produced with genetic engineering” on the product. However, the federal law gives food companies a variety of ways to claim GMO ingredients: say it in plain words on the package or provide a QR code, 1-800 number, or website for consumers to visit for more information. Many argue that this does not give the consumer needed information and transparency at the point of purchase.
Why we should take note of this issue? These laws come at a time when the non-GMO claim is one of the fastest growing on-package statements -with more than 15% of new product packages making a non-GMO reference in 2015, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database. At the same time, a recent global consumer study by HealthFocus International reveals 87% of consumers globally think non-GMO products are healthier and 55% think genetically modified crops are worse for the environment.
With these on-going market indicators, it is clear that the GMO issue isn’t going anywhere. Regardless of what the final rules come to be for the new federal law, food businesses will need to be prepared to be transparent in their use of genetically modified ingredients.
Remember, all USDA certified organic products do not allow genetically modified organisms (GMOs). When you purchase certified organic ingredients from High Quality Organics you are purchasing products that have not been made with genetically modified organisms.
Protein: Specifically, protein sources to replace animal protein (meat/milk/whey) are exploding. Pea, rice and insect proteins were the most popular. I’d say this is the biggest trend as far as product development.
Fiber: Beginning to rival protein, fiber is becoming more popular as a functional ingredient. Many companies were pushing proprietary formulas of high fiber ingredients. This fiber trend is why whole fruit and vegetable powders are trending in the supplement industry. Juice powders and concentrates don’t contain pulp, the fibrous part of the fruit that is pressed out during extraction.
Whole Fruit Powders: Taking a nod from the fiber trend, whole fruit powders were mentioned in several places throughout the show. The supplement industry appears to be driving the demand for these products.
Organic Flavors and Colorants: I saw a lot of new companies showcasing organic flavors and colorants derived from fruit and vegetable extracts. This really speaks to the clean label trend we have been seeing for a while.
Organics – In general, I noticed a lot of companies promoting new organic lines or additional organic SKUS. IFT typically doesn’t have a strong organic pressence but this year there was a definite increase in organic ingredient and product mentions.
To read more about the trends noted at IFT 2016, click on the news articles below.
For the third year in a row, High Quality Organics (HQO) has achieved SQF Level 2 certification. This food safety certification is a critical part of servicing the leading food manufacturers and retailers in America and abroad. It is based on government and industry food safety requirements and ensures everyone in the supply chain, from growers to distributors, are producing a product to the highest quality and food safety standards.
To receive a copy of our SQF Level 2 Certification please contact your sales manager directly or our Regulatory and Compliance Manager, Christine Perot, at 775-971-8550.
Sparkling Hibiscus Cooler
Summer gatherings are a great time to make a big batch of this Sparkling Hibiscus Cooler. It’s simple to make, can easily be converted to an adult-only beverage with the addition of vodka or white rum, and is equally delicious without the alcohol – making it a perfect refresher for people of all ages. It stars one of our favorite teas, hibiscus. With a tart flavor like cranberry juice and a perfectly deep, magenta color, this cooler is perfect for any summertime celebration, especially the July Fourth!
Note: Hibiscus tea, when sweetened with some honey or simple syrup, is usually loved by people of all ages, including children!
Sparkling Hibiscus Cooler
Serves 10 or more
8 cups ice cubes 8 cups boiling water 8 heaping tablespoons of loose leaf Hibiscus tea OR 16 Hibiscus teabags 1/4 cup honey 1 bottle sparkling water 1-2 cups blackberries for garnish Optional: 2 cups vodka or white rum
Add Hibiscus tea to hot water and steep for at least 5 minutes
Strain tea into beverage dispenser
Stir in honey, sparkling water and add blackberries
Optional: add vodka or rum
Taste and adjust sweetness or alcohol content based on preference.
High Quality Organics Now Offers Certified Halal
High 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.
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 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.
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.
Breakfast 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.
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?
Your Business Fuels Our Love
2015 marked another outstanding year of growth for High Quality Organics. None of the statistics below would be possible without you, our customers.
Thank you for your trust and commitment to HQO and to organics. Together we are planting “Seeds of Growth” that positively impact farmers in faraway places, girls in Rwanda, high school students in Los Angeles and everyday people in Reno, Nevada.
In 2015 High Quality Organics continued to grow the footprint of organic agriculture across the globe. We helped 190 farmers become certified organic and put more than 1,500 new organic acres into production. We also assisted growers in eight different regions obtain market access for their organic products.
At HQO Headquarters in Reno, Nevada, we added 14 new products to our inventory of over 260 organic ingredients. With all the custom blends and cuts we provide, our product list is now well over 1,000.
Our double digit growth and more than 10.2 million pounds of organic product running through our facility in 2015 allowed us to promote seven employees and created 30 new jobs.
While we worked hard to grow, we also took time for the important things. Every single box that comes into our facitilty is recycled. In 2015, that equated to 139 tons of cardboard!
HQO has begun a scholarship program for college-bound inner city youth pursuing a math or science degree. This year we awarded two scholarships to high school graduates in Los Angeles.
We also continue our support of an all-girls school in Rwanda where we provide an organic seed and agriculture curriculum so young women can learn how to run small organic farms of their own. 64 young ladies graduated from the school this year and many received full-ride scholarships to universities around the world. What exciting “seeds” we are planting at this school!
And all of this would never have been possible without you, our customers. Thank you for allowing us to pursue our love of organic ingredients. Watching how organic agriculture and organic food create tides of positive change in communities large and small all over this great world is what we truly love to do. Happy Valentine’s Day!