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  • Karen Buch RDN, LDN

Trend Spotting at Expo East 2016

Last week, 28,000 attendees converged at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland to attend New Hope Network’s Natural Products Expo East. During its 31st year, the event hosted more than 1450 brands including 450 first-time exhibitors. The U.S. natural & organic food industry is growing nearly five times faster than the food industry as a whole with double digit growth in mass market, big box and internet sales. Evolving consumer attitudes and behaviors are at the center of the forces fueling this growth.

I was invited to attend the event as a member of the press and served as a live panelist blogger to cover a super session entitled: “Product and Consumer Trends Fueling Growth”. Related tweets can be found on twitter by searching #EXPOEASTTRENDS. Presenters Carlotta Mast, Mary Ellen Molyneaux and Eric Pierce discussed powerful macro forces and related trends shaping the natural products landscape.

1. Macro Force: A Climate of Change Global population growth is expected to reach 9 billion people by the year 2050 (we hit 7 billion in the year 2011). To feed everyone, we will need to double the amount of food we currently produce. The collective food industry has a core responsibility to find solutions to feed the world without destroying it. Related Trend: A Plant Revolution Emerging products are featuring plant-based ingredients to appeal to vegan, vegetarian and omnivores alike. Related Trend: Feed Me! Food companies are using innovative approaches to sourcing, developing plant-based nutrition and reducing food waste Related Trend: Regeneration CPG and food industries are turning to regenerative practices that not only do no harm, but actually heal harm that has already occurred. 2. Macro Force: The Modern Meal Today’s 24-7 culture means we’re working more hours and under more pressure than ever before. Consumers want to streamlined meals that minimize preparation time while maximizing nutrition.

Related Trend: Snackification Today’s snacks need to be tasty, convenient and nutritious while at times offering a touch of indulgence to satisfy impulse cravings. Related Trend: Smoothie Love Consumers want to eat (or drink) more produce servings each day. Smoothies are packing in more fiber and less sugar by blending in a higher proportion of vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole fruits. Related Trend: Speed Scratch Consumers are looking for ways to prepare meals at home with heightened convenience and speed to table

3. Macro Force: Beyond Nutrition Consumers who would rather pay the grocer than the doctor are turning to foods and nutritional products that will help them feel their best so they can be active participants in everyday life.

Related trend: Tribal Influence The values of food tribes such as vegan, paleo, organic and others are influencing the mainstream.

Related Trend: Food as Medicine Hippocrates is credited with saying: “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Consumers are looking for new and different ways to live by this ancient advice.

Related Trend: Protein Redefined Consumers will be able to choose from next-generation protein sources from animals, plants, insects and more.

4. Macro Force: Conscious Consumption Consumers, faced with seemingly infinite choices, are looking beyond individual products to the companies behind them. Conscious-consumers seek products from companies that not only communicate their purpose for a greater good but authentically deliver.

Related Trend: The Purposeful Brand Brands are aligning with social and environmental causes and thereby have new ways to forge connections with consumers. Related Trend: The B-Corp Revolution Businesses that are socially and environmentally conscious are embracing certifications that formalize and verify their commitments. Related Trend: Waste Not, Want Not USDA estimates 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is wasted while, at the same time, some populations go hungry. Companies are working to develop real solutions to food waste issues.

While walking the Expo Hall, many exciting and novel food trends caught my eye including: -Collagen as a source of protein in food or drink mixes -Superfood indulgences ie popped quinoa, dried berries and ginger encased by dark chocolate -Sustainable bamboo-based tableware -Reusable bee’s wax-based food wrap -Spheres of gelatin-encased honey -Dried meat snacks featuring turkey, game, chicken, pork and beef touting bold flavors and ingredient pairings -Organic whole milk yogurt with a focus on recognizable ingredients and innovative flavors -Freeze-dried crunchy fruit snacks -Flash-frozen herbs without additives or preservatives -Use of chia, quinoa, beets, nuts and pulses as ingredients -Brewed cacao (coffee alternative) -Fermented foods geared to enhance gut health The following is a list of 21 products that were recognized at Expo East this year with a coveted New Hope NEXTY Award in recognition of innovation, inspiration and integrity. Best New Organic Food: Lotus Foods Organic Red Rice Best New Organic Beverage: REBBL Super REBBL Herbs (Turmeric Golden-Milk; Maca Cold-Brew; Matcha Latte Elixir) Best New Beverage: Tio Gazpacho RosadoBest New Packaged Food: Michele's Ginger Hemp Granola Best New Frozen Product: Bonafide Provisions Restorative Bone Broth Best New Meat or Seafood Product: Milton's Local Bacon Sausage Best New Meat Alternative: Good Seed Curried Sweet Potato Hempseed Burger Best New Snack: JicaChips (Sea Salt; Smoked BBQ; Chili Lime) Best New Special Diet Food: Kite Hill Vegan Cheese Ricotta Best New Condiment: Maple Guild Organic Maple Cream Best New Sweet or Dessert: Pure Genius Deep Chocolate Brownie & Chocolate Chunk Blondie

Best New Beauty Product: Goddess Garden Under the Sun Pre-Sunscreen Serum Best New Supplement: Europharma Sucontral D Best Condition-Specific Supplement: Vibrant Health Vibrant Flora - Improved Bowel Support

Best Supplement Delivery Format: Redd Remedies Curcumin C3 Reduct Chewable Best New Natural Living Product: Elyptol Antimicrobial Hand Gel Sanitizer Best New Natural Kid's Product: cocokind Organic Baby Line (Baby Oil; Calming Powder; Soothing Salve) Best New Packaging Innovation: Eco Lips, Inc. POGO Best New Transparently Sourced Product: Solar Dried Organic Mangos Best New Mission-Based Product: RUNA Mint Honeysuckle Ready to Drink Tea

Editor’s Choice Best New Supplement: Ora Just Take Everything Women’s Multivitamin Editor’s Choice Best New Beauty Product: Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant Editor’s Choice Best New Food: Cave Shake Editor’s Choice Best New Beverage: Repurposed Pod Cacao Juice Editor’s Choice Best New Natural Living Product: EcoSoulLife Bamboo Eco Table tableware Would you like to attend Expo East next year? If so, mark your calendar. It will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center September 13-16 in 2017. For more information, visit To share your thoughts on #foodtrends with me, comment below or tag me on twitter @karenbuch

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