Natural Products Expo West is as lively as ever. There is no shortage of new innovation, flavor trends, and our favorite products. There are always themes seen throughout trade shows. Somehow multiple companies are on a similar wavelength and they become prominent trends. There are many exciting micro-themes seen at Expo West. Trends spanned the aisles of the show floor boasting of globally inspired flavors, new milk alternatives, a caffeine craze, functional ingredients, and on-the-go essentials. We dive into the major trending products we tested and tasted to give you an idea of where the industry is at.
There seems to be a lot of global influences throughout the show, mainly in desserts and beverages. Ube flavor is at every mochi booth and tropical fruits of the Asia-Pacific islands are seen across all beverages. There is a large presence of chai spice flavors in coffee, chili and jalapeno in RTD, and michelada flavored dips. This trend seems to be one that will follow throughout the year in LTO’s and establishing unique flavor profiles for new product launches.
New Milk Alternatives
There is a good amount of non-dairy options that align with the growing movement of animal-free products. Specifically in milk alternatives, there weren’t as many mainstream options like oat or almond, but rather a blend of ingredients and new ingredients to explore. THIS PKN pecan milk super creamy and luxurious, Mooala Bananamilk feels comforting with a slight banana bread characteristic to it, and Milkadamia macadamia nut milk is unmatched; truly a creamy and mild milk option. An upcycled alternative using spent grain from the brewing process is an interesting environmentally conscious option from Golden Wing.
Milk alternatives have shown up in RTD coffee beverages all over the show. Oatmilk mochas and macadamia nut milk vanilla lattes spanned the Expo floor. The traditional Indian chai and golden milk lattes had quite the presence. There is an emphasis on the origin of the coffee, whether that be Colombian, Haitian, or Ethiopian. Many of these products claim low to no sugar, brain boosting adaptogens, and a self heating option! The innovation for technology like that is quite insane but one full rotation of the bottom of the can and boom, hot coffee.
Outside of coffee, energy claims through other forms of caffeine and energy boosting adaptogens are abundant. Bars, beverages, and even snack have a growing amount of energy claims. Black and green tea is used in more beverages as a non-jittery pick-me-up. Wake Up! bar boasted 3 espressos worth of caffeine while other options are more subtle adding 50 mg from tea to beverages.
Mushrooms and other FUNctionals
Mushrooms and other functional ingredients made their way into a variety of products, especially beverages. Consumers have voiced that they want products that align with their lifestyles and enhance mood, cognition, and support immune systems. Headspace took morning coffee and elevated it with various adaptogens and even collagen. Wellie is just one of many brands calling out added vitamins. Life Clean Energy and Good Sport build their platform on a clean source of electrolytes. And of course, the prebiotic and probiotic sodas are a plenty. Culture Pop, Poppi, Wildwonder, and many others debuted fun and fresh flavors. Whatever you’re looking for, I promise there is a drink for that.
Oatmeal, a staple breakfast food that now can aid the on-the-go lifestyle with overnight oats. Many companies playing in this sector have ready to eat oats in various fruit and indulgent dessert type flavors. Found in your local store refrigerated section, you will see many overnight oats next to the yogurt. One company, Oats Overnight, put a new twist on a DIY bottle of oats that you add your favorite liquid to and it’s ready for you the next morning! Similarly, yogurt capitalizes on low sugar non-dairy options, like CocoJune, with great consistency and fun fruit flavor mashups. Lastly, bars are all the rage. From fruit and veggie bars to energy bars to get that morning boost, and even keto bars. Bars had a wide range of flavors including fruits like mango and blueberry acai or dessert flavors like birthday cake and hazelnut mocha to curb that sweet tooth.
Junk Food Makeover
A prominent trend is the better for you alternatives to junk food like soda, chips, and candy. Many sodas have a prebiotic claim and real fruit juice, with the only sugar source coming from honey, maple syrup, or agave. They’re fun twists on the classics like cola, lemon lime, and Dr. Pop. Candy followed suit with peach rings, red fish, and sour gummies of various shapes. Many brands have a zero or low sugar claim like Smart Sweets and no artificial colors or flavors like Katje. Every single gummy also has a plant based claim using other forms gelling outside of gelatin. Crunchy snacks are all over the show with grain free claims and alternative sources of carbohydrates like amaranth, lentils, and chickpeas. This trend is very on par for what is being seen in the industry with indulgence top of mind, however, consumers seek out healthier options.
No matter the product, the branding often speaks for itself and drew many people in with bright colors, simple design, and a sleek overall look. This is important to note as we live in the age of digital and consumers gravitate to fun and carefree marketing. There is a lot going on at Expo West, so standing out is a must. Whether a booth had music, giveaways that drew crowds in, or a fun collaboration, there is no shortage of energy and fresh ideas.
Looking to take your product and your brand to the next level? Reach out to your team at Flavor Insights to help you build your brand to your vision. From concept to commercialization, we’re your partner in crossing the finish line.