The 39th annual Natural Products Expo West, the world’s largest trade show for natural products, just wrapped up in Anaheim, Calif. The expo ran from March 5-9 and attracted 186,000 attendees from 136 countries. The show brought together 3,600 exhibiting companies, including 600 first-time brands. Hosted by New Hope Network, the expo aims to help shape the future of healthy products and the CPG industry as a whole.
Expo West touts itself as the premiere show for industry trend spotting. We’ve rounded up some of the biggest trends we spotted at Expo West 2019.
1. Healthy fats
Fifteen years ago, fat was the enemy. Nearly all diets and “healthy living” tidbits advocated for removing as much fat from your diet as possible. Today, fat, at least the healthy kind, has made a comeback. Ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, full-fat dairy, and butter appeared in dozens of snacks, bars, drinks, and desserts at Epxo West
2. Alternative sweeteners
Fat may be back in, but sugar isn’t. As science and medicine have evolved, we’ve realized that sugar lies at the root of many of the illnesses and health issues that plague our society. Many of the products at Expo West this year were sweetened with low- or no-calorie alternative sweeteners (think stevia or monk fruit). Additionally, companies unveiled plenty of unsweetened products, some of which, like carbonated waters, which we traditionally expect to have a hint of sweetness.
3. Keto-friendly products
The low-carb, high-fat keto diet has been gaining traction and, if Expo West is any indication, it’s here to stay. From frozen desserts to pancake mixes, to nut butter to broth, there were dozens of products aimed at helping consumers achieve ketosis in order to drop that stubborn weight or lower those sticky blood sugar levels.
4. Responsibility in food
The natural food industry has always cared about what goes into products, but we saw a major push this year for making sure that ingredients are responsibly and sustainably sourced and that packaging is environmentally friendly. Single-use plastic and the extractive tendencies of our current food system have both come under fire lately, so products that are more thoughtful about their environmental footprint are gaining lots of traction.
5. Plant-based everything
To that end, many companies promoted their plant-based products this year. Plant-based eating is better for the environment (and for our bodies!), and brands offered everything from oat-based milk to mushroom burgers and veggie jerky. These products meet growing demand from meat-and-dairy-free consumers, as more and more individuals have been adhering to a plant-based diet.
6. A re-invention of “stale categories”
A number of companies set out to reinvent classic pantry staples like rice, boxed brownie mix, and snack puffs. Using new and inventive ingredients that offer more nutritional benefit than their predecessors, these improved staples have already been cannibalizing sales as consumers are drawn to their higher-quality ingredients and increased transparency.
7. Cannabidiol, CBD and hemp extract
Finally, the use of cannabidiol, CBD and hemp extract in food and beverages was a budding trend at Expo West. As research continues to prove the benefits of these extracts, the demand for them has increased. More companies jumped on the cannabis bandwagon this year than ever before, and it’s a number we expect to see continuing to rise over the next several years.