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.

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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.