As you may have seen from my last post, a lot of what was seen on the exhibit floor at Expo West was same ol’ same ol’. But I guess we shouldn’t complain too much because it can only mean that previous trends are still going strong. Here’s my take on some of those old trends along with the new ones I spotted at the show.
Protein Still Rules, Plants Preferred: Despite what current nutrition science says about our protein needs, consumers are still looking to get more, more, more and companies are giving it to them. For the most part, the proteins are plant-based (most often pea to appease – no pun intended – those still shy about soy). Don’t rule out meat just yet. There were at least a dozen companies offering some form of meat-based jerkies, perhaps looking for the same success as Krave.
What Drought?: California may be in a drought but water was everywhere on the floor of Natural Products Expo West. While one could argue that there’s never been anything new about water (it has, after all, been around for millions of years), the sheer number of waters on the show floor demonstrated that consumers are still thirsty for waters and new beverages. What was once plain old H2O is now maple water, alkaline water, volcanic water, Alaskan water, Hawaiian water, protein water, aloe vera water and let’s not forget coconut water.
We’re Snacking Happy: There was more than one reason why you couldn’t get a decent meal in Anaheim. In addition to the overcrowded restaurants, there were few companies offering products that could actually form the basis of a meal. Snacks proliferated the exhibit space. And, if you thought there couldn’t be possibly another way to make popcorn, somebody else did.
Dairy Alternatives Go Nuts: Whether it’s driven by the belief that we’re all going to be lactose intolerant some day or by a desire for more plant-based proteins, exhibitors continued to focus on non-dairy (and non-soy) beverages. New to this category was macademia milk and several almond-based products like dips, cheeses, spreads and past fillings.
Flour Power: The popularity of gluten-free products has driven companies to find new alternatives to wheat flours. And flour certainly isn’t run of the mill these days. Among some of the newer flavors were teff – an ancient grain grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea -- quinoa, coconut and bananas.
Veggie Explosion: The makers of Vitameatavegamin might have had something there after all. Food entrepreneurs and R&D teams are taking a cue from the Sneaky Chef and inserting vegetables in unexpected places, including snack bars, trail mix, pizza crust, chips and poppers. The vegetable star of them all: beets. Beets have been proliferating on restaurant menus for years but now they’re showing up as snacks that fried, freeze-dried and turned into fruit leather. And, if food companies are taking a cue from restaurant menus, then we should see a host of cauliflower based-products at Expo West 2017.
They’re Bac: Consumers have been going buggy about probiotics, the good bacteria that helps digestion and the immune system, among other health claims, ever since Jamie Lee Curtis started hawking Activia, the probiotic yogurt from Dannon. But the bacteria were inherent to the yogurt. Now probiotics are being added to foods like nut butters, ice cream, sauces and myriad beverages.
Mushroom Madness: While that might start you thinking about Arizona desserts and hallucinogenetic mushroom varieties, the trend here is in medicinal mushrooms. The fungi are now making their way into coffees, teas and powders. And, if your mushroom tastes are a little more refined, than try ruffles, as featured by KIND with its new Black Truffle Almond & Sea Salt flavor.
Bean There?: Then you’ll love all of the new pastas on the market. In addition to chickpea pasta, which has been available for a couple of years, we’re now seeing fusilli, spaghetti, and penne made with various colored lentils and black beans.
Have Your Cake and….: Well, you know the rest. But now that sweets are down-sizing, you can enjoy cookies, brownies and chocolate bark in thin slivers that won’t add a lot of calories to your daily total.