This month we ventured to Anaheim, CA for Natural Products Expo West. We navigated our way through more than 80,000 people and 2,700 booths to meet with clients, see friends, and discover what’s new in the natural products industry. With new products on display every year, the Expo is always buzzing with positive energy. Here were our takeaways of the trends at Expo West:
The rise of nut butter brands shouldn’t be shocking. There’s been a shake-up in the $1.9 billion a year nut butter category, which was once almost completely dominated by peanut butter. At the Expo, you could also see lots of almond, cashew, and sunflower based products.
Everywhere we turned, there was a new water company. The big players in bottled water were not present, for the most part. Many younger brands, however, were. There were tons of variations on water, all bringing something unique to the table. We saw boxed, alkaline, sparkling, caffeinated, electrolyte infused, and fat water to name a few.
It will be very interesting to watch this category over the next few years to see if smaller fringe brands can gain market share.
Energy has been a trend in the natural space for quite some time. However, this year we noticed even more companies promoting natural energy. This was, perhaps, our favorite trend, since traversing the Expo hall can get tiring. We needed the boost! There was certainly an increase in cold brew coffee companies. Green tea matcha was also featured in a lot of drinks. Unsurprisingly, there were scores of energy drinks. That, however, is not a new trend.
Coconuts had a huge presence in Anaheim. Over the last decade, coconut water sales have grown exponentially. Now, coconut bites, coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut chips, and even coconut jerky are everywhere.
There is certainly an opportunity in the coconut category. Those who are able to educate consumers on the benefits of coconut products will succeed. Currently, however, many people are skeptical of the real benefits.
The meat alternative category has exploded in popularity over the last few years. This category is no longer limited to Boca, MorningStar, and Tofurky. Smaller companies are joining in—and stealing market share.
This is perhaps the most viable of the health trends we saw at Expo West. These alternatives are a great source of essential nutrients, and fit into many more diets. For example, meatless alternatives are perfect for flexitarians—those who consume mostly plant based foods with the occasional inclusion of meat. Also, meatless alternatives are a great option for the over 375 million vegetarians worldwide.
Finally, meatless alternatives are a more sustainable option than meat. This is exceptionally important, as sustainability has become the third highest factor driving consumer purchasing in the grocery store. As more people become more conscious of how their decisions impact the planet, meat alternative sales will likely continue to increase.
We’re excited to see what will happen over the next few years. Will caffeinated water take off? Who will be the leader in educating consumers about the benefits of the various coconut products? How will sustainability shape the meat alternative category?
We also left the Expo excited and invigorated by all of the innovative products being launched. The enthusiasm of brands, and the amazing booths, are always above and beyond other shows. We can’t wait to see everyone back in Anaheim next year!