On Thursday, we attended Expo East in Baltimore. Expo East is often overshadowed by New Hope’s much larger conference, Expo West. Expo East still attracts a lot of people (in the ballpark of 28,000 people), but it’s hard to compare to the 77,000 attendees that were present at Expo West this year.
The buzz at these expos is infectious. There is so much excitement, from startups to industry giants. On one end of the spectrum, you have extremely successful natural products that have been pioneers in the field for 20+ years. On the other, you have companies that are 3 weeks old. In between, there are more than 1,000 exhibitors trying to get the word out about their products.
When walking the floor, speaking to exhibitors, we noticed certain trends that we think are noteworthy:
Free From—There were a growing number of companies present in the “free-from” category. Consequently, many companies had vegan products for the first time.
Less Emphasis on Gluten Free—There were a lot of gluten-free products, which goes hand-in-hand with the number of free-from products. However, many companies were not touting their gluten free attributes.
Jerky—We’ve known that this category is booming, but seeing all these emerging jerky brands was shocking. Boring beef jerky has been spiced up with exciting flavors. Turkey, and other forms of jerky, also had a substantial presence.
Superfoods—Wow, were there a lot of superfood companies. Nutrient rich foods had a huge presence at Expo East.
Peas—Peas are in. Not in the form that you grew up eating—we’re talking about pea protein. Many post-workout focused protein powders were made up of pea protein. Surprising, since whey has dominated this category for years.
The New Hope Network put on a great show. We really enjoyed seeing our industry friends, and hearing about new companies and trends. We can’t wait to see everyone again in March at Expo West!