If you ever want to experience the mecca of the natural products world, I suggest you go to the Natural Products Expo. Held twice a year (March in Anaheim, CA and September in Baltimore, MD), it is the craziest, coolest trade show you will ever attend. I was there this past weekend (along with 65,000 other like-minded people), basking in the glory of kale, quinoa and paraben-free loveliness.
Many trends were evident at the show. The most exciting was the abundance of Non-GMO Project Verified labels on products. It’s a rigorous and costly certification but clearly companies think it is important. There’s no doubt in my mind that gluten-free is here to stay – everywhere I turned I was being handed another gluten-free cookie or snack. Companies are cashing in on the convenience trend with individual pouches and single-serves galore. Sadly, this trend is not so good for the landfill, but there is some attempt to create biodegradable and recyclable packaging. I’d like to see more.
Many other trends popped up at the show and there’s no way I can cover them all – but here are a few of the more intriguing trends that jumped out at me:
Sweet soda may have a bad rap but fizzy drinks with a hint of vinegary tartness are on the rise due to their many health benefits. Keep your eyes out for ‘drinking vinegar’ brands like Tart Tonic, an all-natural drink made from coconut vinegar and flavored with Japanese fruits like Yuzu and Shiso. There was plenty of kombucha at the show as well, which is good because not everyone is crazy enough to make their own kombucha like me. Kombucha Wonder Drink offers amazing flavor combos like Asian Pear & Ginger and Cherry Cassis. Health-Ade comes in groovy, brown apothecary style bottles (which I would totally reuse for my own kombucha bottling). And LIVE Kombucha makes a super mellow brew in classic soda flavors like cola, rootbeer and orange. Drink up – but watch the calories and caffeine!
Pill burnout has led to a slew of vitamin and nutrition-infused chews, chocolates, gummies and drinks. Imagine grabbing a chocolate probiotic bar from Attune Foods or a pack of yummy BaoBab Superfood chews from Bongo Foods rather than another pill to pop. I’m good with that! In the vitamin category, Smarty Pants, the maker of gummy vitamins designed for kids, now makes a line for adults too. And Suja has added amino acids, antioxidants & omegas to their new Essentials line of cold-pressured juices to boost it to a new level of nutrition. No need to feel guilty – it’s all in good health!
Mark my words – at the rate the new product intros are coming out, chia just might take over the world. Everywhere I looked there were more signs of chia – in drinks and squeezable pouches from Mamma Chia, in Q’ia Superfood cereal from Nature’s Path, in chips from Late July and Live, Love, Snack, in yogurt made by The Epic Seed, and in energy and snack bars including Raw Revolution and Health Warrior.
For those of us who will never, ever be turning to a needle for help in the beauty department, there is still hope. It comes in the form of collagen and antioxidant infused pills, chews and beauty drinks like Reserveage Collagen capsules, Neocell Beauty Infusion collagen drink mix, Sibu Sea Buckthorn liquid supplement and plenty of fruity and chocolaty chews. I’m all for eating and drinking my way to better hair, skin and nails!
Protein was a big buzz word at the expo and it showed up in many products from bars and cereals, to meals and beverages. The lowly yellow pea was by far the trendiest source of protein, as found KIND STRONG bars, and VEGA smoothie powders. Beans were big too – showing up in Love Grown Foods Power O’s cereal. Pecans and garbanzos were the heros in Neat meat replacement, one of the tastiest products of its kind I’ve tried.