Natural Products Expo West (NPEW) was the first food trade show to be canceled in 2020 due to COVID concerns. Two years later, NPEW was back, welcoming 57,000 attendees (down from approximately 85,000 in 2019) and more than 2,700 exhibitors (including over 600 first time exhibitors) March 8-12 in Anaheim, Calif.
There was a vast array of presentations and panel discussions; many of which were presented to attendees that were in Anaheim, but also available to a virtual audience that couldn’t be in California, but wanted to take part in the program. These programs were generally very popular with long lines waiting to enter the sessions due to the limitations NPEW placed on room size for Covid protocols.
Similar to what was reported on attending Natural Products Expo East, NPEW had plenty of novelty and a large array of intriguing products. Below see what I consider some of the more interesting products that hope to be the next breakout stars in our industry. Some of the products were launched during the pandemic (but had not been seen before), while others may not be on shelf until the second half of 2022.
- 3 Cousins Foods: Upcycled Fresh Coffee Fruit Drink: apple, classic, citrus.
- Vina Prebiotic Soda: grapefruit, lime lemon, pomegranate, ginger fizz, cherry pop.
- Rebel Stacked Cold Brew Coffee with "premium functionality": café mocha, vanilla latte, hazelnut latte, straight black.
- Ripple Soft Serve Ice cream (currently planned for food service, but don’t be surprised if this product finds its way to retail someday).
- Plant People Sunsup Metabolism and Focus Mushroom Coffee Mix.
- Cloud Water Brands: Beverages with 25mg hemp extract in blood orange & coconut, grapefruit mint & basil, half tea & half lemonade, watermelon & ginger, blackberry lemon & rosemary, dark chocolate & strawberry.
- Runa Clean Energy with Guayusa (a super leaf found in Ecuador’s Amazonian Rainforest): tropical passionfruit, peach paradise, wild black cherry.
- Agua Bonita Real Fruit Aguas Frescas: pineapple cucumber, watermelon chile, mango habanero.
- Twrl, the First Plant-Based Milk Tea: original black, supreme jasmine, hojicha roasted green.
- Numi Premium Japanese Organic Green Tea (bags): yuzu bancha, hojicha, kukicha.
- Twinings Superblends (bags): Heartea+ raspberry, Energy+ citrus & apple, Sleep+ camomile, cinnamon & vanilla, Immune Support+ ginger & mango, Immune Support raspberry, glow+ peach.
- Maury’s Hive Tea Bags with Granulated Honey: regular & decaf (intriguing to have granulated honey in the tea bag).
- Rishi Sparkling Botanicals: schisandra berry, dandelion ginger, turmeric saffron.
- Ellenos Limited Edition Greek Yoghurt: brownie batter, cherry pie, pumpkin pie.
- Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed: BBQ shredded beef brisket, BBQ pulled pork.
- Applegate Naturals: The Do-Good Dog uncured beef hot dog & beef burgers.
- CedarLane Foods: vegan moussaka, vegan BBQ jackfruit pulled pork with mac & cheese, vegan chile relleno burrito, vegan smothered red burrito.
- Upfield Foods: Violife Plant-Based Butter.
- Blum (Bloom) Toasty Almonds: You (the consumer) heat them, in cinnamon spice, spicy chili lime, honey vanilla sea salt, garlic parmesan, cocoa espresso.
- Moon Cheese Crunchy Cheese Sticks: Cheesy Does It, Wild White Cheddar, Rowdy Ranch, Kick It Up Nacho, Yum Inferno (if you like to crunch, you’ll love these).
- Sonoma Creamery Pork Rind Cheese Crisps: cheddar, chipotle.
- The Mushroom Co.: Baked Mushroom Chips.
- Rhythm Mushroom Crisps: sea salt, fire roasted
- Whisps: Cheese & Pretzel Bites in everything, cheddar and honey-mustard and Snack Mix in garlic herb, tangy ranch, smoky barbeque.
- Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Chocolate: crunchy hazelnut butter, salted dark chocolate, salted whole almonds.
- Banza Pizzas: margherita, supreme, plant based-cheese.
- Force of Nature Beef Sausages: bison, venison, wild boar.
- Oatly Frozen Novelty Bars: vanilla, chocolate fudge, salted caramel, strawberry swirl.
- Milk Bar ice cream pints: cereal milk, birthday cake, cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow, pie, peanut butter chocolate cookie crush, chocolate birthday cake, chocolate mint cookies n’ cream.
- Planet Oat (Non-Dairy) Frozen Dessert pints: vanilla, chocolate, coffee fudge swirl, blueberry oat crumble, cookies & crème, chocolate peanut butter swirl, mint fudge swirl, chocolate chip cookie dough.
- New England Natural Bakers Tru Nola Organic Granola: blueberry hemp protein, grain free cacao nib apricot, goldenberry turmeric, vanilla almond.
- CauliCrunch Bread-Free Bread Crumb (all with cauliflower as the first ingredient): original, taste of Italy, 7 spice, savory cheese.
- Just Like Home Kitchen Recipes Pasta Sauce: buttery marinara, NY lip-smackin’ garlic, zesty tomato & cheese, sweet potato pomodoro, Chicago-style bolognese, mushroom cabernet.
- Neptune Fish Jerky: cracked pepper.
- Goodles Mac ‘N Cheese: cheddy mac, mover & shaker, shella good, twist my parm.
- Perfect Keto Mac & Cheese: white cheddar, yellow cheddar (claims to be first keto mac & cheese made with lupin bean pasta).
- Golden Wing (claims to be) The World’s First Barley Milk (this product is shelf stable).
We noticed a continuation (from NPEE) of products with eye popping graphics (and the products were tasty as well) and novel texture of films; seem to be a good way to ensure your products stand out on shelf. The three below certainly did:
- Stellar Snacks: Pretzels with a purpose with the graphics featuring compelling artists in Maui Monk, Simply Stella, Sweet and Sparky, Blood and Herby.
- Unbound Roasted & Seasoned Walnuts: original, sea salt & pepper, cinnamon, butter toffee, chili lime.
- Sound Sparkling Water with Tea & Botanicals: blueberry, grapefruit, tangerine, blood orange.
We can’t forget a product for pets: Coming in early summer from Raw Farm is Raw Milk from Grass Grazed Cows, specially formulated for pets. This follows Goat Raw Milk and Goat Raw Kefir from the same company in summer of 2021 for all consumers.
Some other observations:
- There was an increase in manufacturers with products (milk, half & half, yoghurt) made from A2 milk, which is easier on digestion and suggested for dairy-sensitive individuals. Priced above regular dairy products, but below organic dairy products.
- Many fewer products with CBD than at previous Natural Product Expos. Is the market not as big as originally thought? Are the regulatory hurdles too steep? Are consumers resistant to the products that are already being marketed or is something else at play? Time will tell where this market shakes out.
- There didn’t seem to be a single stand out flavor trend that predominated the show as there had been in previous years.
- Booths from large food companies, including Chobani, Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s), Campbell, Hain-Celestial, Clif Bar, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat (and more) were missing.
- More ingredient companies than in previous years.
- A solid session on sustainability was orchestrated by three professors from University of California at Davis (Drs. Wang, Fox, Spang), along with a sold-out Southern California IFT Suppliers Night with over 425 exhibitors.