Nexty Awards: The Most Innovative Products From the 2016 Natural Products Expo

Mar 22, 2016

New Hope Media, sponsors of Natural Products Expo West, presented its Nexty Awards at the big March show. More than 500 products were nominated in 19 categories, with judges scoring them based on innovation, inspiration and integrity. The winners in the food categories (any comments are from the judges):

Best New Frozen Product: EatPops

EatPops puts the juicing trend on a stick. Developed by law student Sophie Milrom, EatPops makes fresh juices more accessible to the masses because of the extended shelf life and lower cost of freezing the nutritious juices. Taste-testers loved this better-for-you frozen dessert, which comes in flavors such as Green Detox, featuring kale, spinach, apple, pineapple, lemon, ginger and cayenne, or Activate with beet, apple and carrot. We also love the simple packaging that displays the ingredients right on the front of the box.

Best New Special Diet Food: Miyoko's Kitchen European Style Cultured VeganButter

This company doesn’t lie when it says this is the first non-dairy butter that rivals the finest European cultured butter. One judge proclaimed that this rich, melt-in-your-mouth alternative was "to die for!" Inspired by the desire to create a realistic butter substitute without palm oil (which leads to deforestation of rain forests), Miyoko’s Kitchen uses organic coconut oil and cashews, and a process using traditional cultures, creating a sustainable product that is kinder for the planet, health and animals.

Best New Beverage: Global Family Farms Sherpa Power

A trio of tasty, not-too-sweet teas from Sherpa Power feature Nepalese green or black teas sweetened with yacon—a high mountain tuber providing a low-glycemic syrup—and boosted with the ayurvedic herbs amla and ashwagandha. Sherpa Power hits, in their words, “key industry trends in the RTD beverage category, such as ancient wisdom, use of whole leaf brewed tea, alternative sweeteners and adaptogenic herbs,” backed with charitable works supporting a Nepalese women’s group and local sustainable farming coops and served up in flavors like mango, pomegranate and peach ginger.

Best New Meat, Seafood or Meat Alternative: Dear North Alaska Salmon Bites

These wild-caught Ocean-Bright Coho Salmon bites offer a fresh (and fresh tasting) take on jerky. The small and chewy shreds satisfy a snack attack or two, as the package reseals for later. They could just as easily add flavor to rice, salads or other dishes to boost protein. Sustainably caught in the glacial waters of Alaska, Dear North’s Coho Salmon is infused with decisively Alaskan flavors such as fireweed honey, rhubarb and raspberries, sea kelp and spruce. Dear North focuses on sustainability and traceability, including following the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Traceability Standard. But it is Dear North’s local economy focus that impresses. Alaskan Natives own the company and focus on building skills, jobs and a future for their people.

Best New Organic Food or Beverage: Rishi Tea Turmeric Ginger Chai Concentrate

Anybody following natural products and nutrition knows that turmeric is a blockbuster, showing up in foods and supplements and offering countless benefits. With such ubiquity focused on the utility, it’s nice to see it in a product that’s so delicious. Add in ginger, an ingredient that’s being increasingly recognized for new health benefits, and you have a product that could make you feel as good as it tastes.

Best New Snack or Convenience Food: Karma Nuts Wrapped Cashews

You've had cashews, but have you had wrapped cashews? Karma’s new product delivers tasty, salty cashews that are wrapped in their tawny-brown natural skin. The result is a robust, fiber-boosted snack that satiates. Our chronic cashew-overeating testers said just a handful of these interesting nuts would quell their 3 p.m. hunger pangs. Plus, Karma says the skins are chock-full of antioxidants, which makes cashews more nutritious, too.

Best New Sweet or Dessert: Heavenly Organics Chocolate Honey Patties

These little chocolates are remarkable in their simplicity (all flavors contain four or fewer ingredients) but offer a creamy bite of goodness owing to their high-quality, organic and sustainably farmed ingredients. Those ingredients (like 100 percent cocoa and organic raw white honey) are produced by a cooperative of hundreds of organic farms in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and throughout northern and central India. The company works to preserve the traditional lifestyle of these small family-owned farms that work according to ancient, natural methods that preserve the rich fertile soil and ensure the maximum health-promoting qualities of the food they produce. Plus, they use raw honey to ensure that all the delicate enzymes and health-promoting qualities are preserved.

Best New Condiment: EPIC Provisions Duck Fat Cooking Oil

New to EPIC’s line of animal fats is cage-free duck fat—a versatile, flavorful cooking fat that’s stable at high temperatures and rich in saturated and monounsaturated fats. In addition to making an ingredient used often in commercial kitchens more accessible to everyday consumers, it also demonstrates EPIC’s noteworthy nose-to-tail commitment of using and appreciating all parts of an animal, thus minimizing waste.

Best New Transparently Sourced Product: Gaia Herbs Maca Powder

Gaia Herbs is a true leader in transparency. Many of the herbs it sells are grown on its own farms. The supply chain on every other product is entirely transparent, too, but maca is a special product with special challenges. Popularity has exploded, and brokers are cutting corners. Maca grown in China is being passed off as maca from the plant’s original growing areas in South America. With so much going on in the maca trade, Gaia’s transparency and unassailable reputation are great for maca, but also good for the whole herbs and botanicals category.

Best New Mission-Based Product: Back to the Roots Organic Stoneground Flakes

Back to the Roots awakens the sleepy cereal category with an ultra-clean product made with just three USDA Organic ingredients: locally grown corn, cane sugar and sea salt. Our judges loved how BTTR is dedicated to educating kids on the importance of knowing where food comes from and eating simply. The brand accomplishes this by including playful sourcing information on the back of package, and even a recipe to make the flakes in your home kitchen. The lesson: eating well doesn’t have to be hard.

Best Packaging: Alter Eco Quinoa Pouch Made From Compostable Materials

Pouch packages are hugely popular—but they’re not recyclable, meaning they go straight to the landfill. Alter Eco has taken a step in the right direction by making one from compostable materials. The patent-pending packaging is made from birch and eucalyptus wood pulp, non-GMO corn and non-toxic ink.

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