Last week, our Ketchum Cultivate team joined 86,000 attendees from around the world at Natural Products Expo West (NPEW) in Anaheim, the #1 show for natural, organic and purpose-driven brands. Retail buyers, distributors and investors hunted for the next big thing, while entrepreneurs and legacy companies shared their passions and new products. Every year, we have staff on the ground at Expo West—not only support our clients—but to find out (and try out) the hottest products and trends in the industry. With the natural and organic industry hitting $219 billion in 2018, this year’s show was the biggest yet with over 3,600+ natural and organic products exhibitors. While the Expo West floor was packed with people, it was easy (and fascinating) to spot the key trends and themes throughout the show…
- Regenerative Agriculture & Sustainable Practices:
The food system contributes to one-third of global greenhouse emissions, farmers are struggling to stay in business, healthy soil is eroding faster than ever. Sustainability thought-leaders and big food companies came to NPEW with real solutions to promote climate-beneficial farming. We saw more brands touting their sustainable practices and packaging—100% recycled materials, plant-based caps and paper packaging—in effort to minimize their carbon footprint and cater to consumer values.
- Hemp, Hemp, Hooray!:
With dozens of hemp and CBD exhibitors and educational sessions, NPEW was high on hemp. Referred to as nature’s perfect plant—and arguably most profitable—hemp and CDB products were abuzz including hemp-based seeds in granola, cereal, bars, drinks and breads, as well as new CBD products and supplements in food and beverage. It’s clear that “ganjapreneurs” and legacy brands alike are craving a slice of this $1 billion industry.
- Power to Plant-Based:
Plant-based products are continuing to dominate the industry as people are looking for more ways to replace meat or dairy with plants. We saw various brands launch “blend-burger” products including vegetables and organic meat, catering to the growing population of “flexitarians” while various vegetable-based snacks and meals (cauliflower, avocado and peas) dominated the floor. There was also no shortage of plant-based dairy replacements—yogurts, cream cheese and butter—that are flavor-forward.
Some may wonder if the keto diet is here to stay, but brands are making it easier for consumers to achieve ketosis through a variety of keto-friendly snacks, meals and desserts. We saw an array of new keto products from convenient snacks, broths, pancake mixes and sandwich bread.
- Fast-Growth of Functional Foods:
The functional food category is one of the highest growing categories in the industry and an array of new healthy and convenient foods are hitting the market, giving consumers more options to meet their busy lifestyles. We also couldn’t believe the number of companies that launched new wellness bars at the show. The bar category will get even more competitive as companies fight to break through in a sea of protein, fiber, fruit, and meat-based bars.
- Pet Project:
Pet parents rejoice! Natural pet care is now the fastest growing segment in the natural and organic industry and at NPEW we saw all the food that’s fit for Fido. Organic pet food with simple ingredients had a big presence and, with millennials driving the pet category (and 73 percent own a pet), we’ll see this sector continue to grow at a rapid pace.
We left Anaheim feeling energized (and full from trying all the product samples). It was amazing being in the company of so many inspirational brands and industry leaders and we can’t wait for Expo East in September.