April 29, 2018

On Display at Natural Products Expo West: Fruit Jerky, Drinkable Vegetables, Overnight Oats – You Had to Be There

By: Margaret Core, Vice President, Marketing & Industry Relations

When my colleague, Julie Pryor, and I set off for Natural Products Expo West a few weeks ago, we couldn’t imagine the plethora of innovation, entrepreneurism, and the variety of “only what you need” products we would find!

Julie attended the event a year earlier and I visited Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, but we didn’t expect to be blown away by all the new, emerging brands in the marketplace…or should I say brands that are about to emerge.

What did we see on the showfloor?

We discovered plant-based foods, hemp, bone broth, honey, alternative sugars, overnight oats, collagen, tea, turmeric, drinkable veggies, “only what you need” ingredients, sugar reduction solutions, paleo, Whole30, spice blends (paleo and auto-immune spice blends), and many, many sauces with healthy and unique flavor profiles.

What’s trending?

Companies are connecting their products to their social values in a big way. They’re also having their social platforms take the lead on packaging and also brands weaving their social mission into their names. Take a look for yourself at the product photos we snapped.

A product feature provided by the New Hope Network walked us through 18 meatless products they found on the show floor. I have tasted the Beyond Meat burger several times now and am very impressed.

It was impossible to see everything ourselves at Expo West. A great personal summary of the show by Jinal Shah, declares the mantra of Expo West to be “plant-based foods.” She writes, “If you are a vegetarian or into a plant-based diet, your food future is about to get far more interesting.”

Shah’s Expo West “must see” list included lentils, legumes, cauliflower, jackfruit, fruit jerky, mushrooms, broths, performance and fancy waters, elixirs, tonics and natural energy drinks. In addition to Jinal’s Expo photos, she has a resourceful site based on her experiences with building brands and ecommerce experiences.

In addition to meeting Shah, there were 15 natural food bloggers at the show and they each made specific product highlights which included some our neat finds as well:

Julie and I found Natural Products Expo West refreshing and felt the entrepreneurial spirit all around us invigorating. Seeing this abundance of riches reminds me how fervently customers demand new brands and how inexhaustible the retail marketplace’s thirst is for new products and ideas. Yet, there may have never been a time when there were so many obstacles to healthy retailer and trading partner relationships.

In the next few months, FMI will formally announce and open a subscription-based community that will nurture emerging brands. You will find more about the new FMI Emerge program at www.moreshelfspace.org.

If you are a retailer interested in guiding us through this new service or a major-brand FMI associate service supplier member interested in coaching, please express your interest here.

We look forward to playing a role in nurturing emerging brands in the new future and discovering innovations along the way.