Natural Products Expo West 2019 Just Keeps Growing

Our man on the street talks trends at what must be one of the largest food shows in North America.

By Leslie Herzog of The Understanding & Insight Group

Although I allotted four days to cover Natural Products Expo West (March 5-9 in Anaheim, Calif.), up from three days at the show in the previous years, I honestly did not see everything that this amazingly large show had in store.

In a presentation, show manager New Hope Media named three overarching cultural forces that identify the program and the current state of the natural product business:

  • Holistic Health & Wellbeing – a concept they have created that suggests more awareness and engagement by consumers.
  • Empowered Communities – communities of people, businesses and brands and how they choose to be forces for good or change.
  • Modern Life – which brings both advantages and disadvantages with enabling technologies, scientific research and innovations that require "choicefulness" by the individual.

I think by any measure – attendance (around 85,000 attendees!), number of exhibitors (3,521) and square footage (586,775) – NPEW must be the biggest food and beverage show in North America. Because it's devoted to new and truly novel consumer-ready products, it should be on everyone's must-attend list.

Some of the key trends I observed during the show:

  • More kids- and baby-oriented products than noted in previous years.
  • Large CPG companies are investing in or incubating lots of small brands (Nestle, Cargill, Unilever, General Mills).
  • Functional shots (usually 2-3 oz.) are becoming an alternative to veggie/fruit smoothies (lower calories, less expensive).
  • Coconut in many forms and in many products.
  • Is oat milk the new soy milk?
  • Non-meat jerky with many bases (banana, coconut and mushroom are examples).
  • More coffee beverages and fewer tea beverages than in previous years.
  • Pre- and probiotics are still in a shake-out phase because messaging is unclear or complicated.
  • Microbiome is getting less traction than one would expect due to the role it plays in health and wellness.
  • Mini products and downsizing is a good (but sneaky) way to raise prices.
  • Many products using cauliflower or broccoli or sweet potato as their main ingredient.

Natural Products Expo West is March 3-7, 2020