Natural Products Expo 2015 Top Trends
Hot New Trends, Winners, and last years Fads for Natural Foods
Tom’s Foodie Blog was back at Natural Products Expo to spot the latest health food trends. This is my fourth year covering the Expo West. Here are the top 15 trends that I witnessed at the Natural Products expo 2015 in Anaheim. New Top Trends emerge: matcha is sexy, juicing gets easy, non-GMO is here to stay. See the top Natural Products Expo Trends of 2014 here, compare how they changed.
Juicing gets easy (Functional Benefits)
The term “juicing” was previously only know in small enclaves like Santa Monica, where whole vegetables and fruits are cold pressed to give a nutrient dense drink. Juice bars became big business in 2014 and large companies have taken notice. Convenience based cold pressed juices will be available in your local natural foods stores, possibly soon at major chains in 2015. Look out for blends titled by functionality “Cleanse”, “Energy”, “Brainiac” versus ingredient or flavor focused.
Matcha is the new sexy girl in class
There is much ado about the Green Tea product matcha. If you didn’t know, Matcha is made by carefully grinding only the leaf of green and forming a powder. The matcha powder can be used to created beverages, or as a flavoring ingredient. There are claims that Matcha contains 10x the antioxidants as brewed green tea. The jury is out on the health benefits, but I sure love the flavor of Matcha ice tea and Matcha ice cream.
My favorite Matcha Brand was : DoMatcha
The concept of eating healthier grab and go snacks is ever present at the show. This can been seen with products like apple chips, made with real apples. You might be next snacking on ancient grains nut clusters instead of your Grandpas granola. This trend has been growing for the past three years. I expect it to peak or morph in two years.
My favorite natural healthy snack was : Snapz
The once sexy Non-GMO movement now looks like your gently aging spouse. GMO is here to stay, but it is no longer the exciting new thing.
Consumers are now expecting their “natural” products to be GMO free. Brands without the “non-GMO” signage at their booth were generally ignored. Major brands who adopted GMO Free status dare not move away from this certification or the consumers will take away their buying power in the divorce.
The newest in-vogue sweetener is Xyletol, it is being added to food products, especially chewing gum. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, which is a sweet as table sugar, but with 33% less calories. Xyletol is reported to have dental benefits of reducing cavities by mineralizing teeth.
My Favorite Zylitol product was Spry Chewing Gum
Bone broth has been a major trend in fancy hipster restaurants and home cook circles for the past year. As with all hot trends, bone broth has been mass produced and commercialized by the larger food producers. I tasted the broth out of convenience sized cartons and they were really good.
My favorite Bone Broth product was the Organic Chicken Bone Broth from Pacific
Frozen Fresh Vegetables
Frozen vegetables have been around since the post WW2 urbanization period. Although, newer technological advances in frozen food packaging has allowed for “Locked-in Freshness” in an effort to rival fresh produce that tends to spoil after a week.
My Favorite frozen vegetable was the Sweet Potato Blend from Alexia Foods
Guayusa Tea Energy Drinks
Guayusa is a tea leaf that is the center of a new energy drink craze. The Guayusa tea leaf comes from the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon.The tea is reported to provide a long-lasting clean energy that does not spike and crash as other caffeine sources. The Guayusa tea is also reported to have twice the antioxidants as green tea and near zero calories.
I found Guayusa is many different products at the Natural Products Expo 2015 from teas to energy drinks. Expect this resource to be exploited once the product becomes a hit. Remember Acai?
The guayusa based tea energy drink that created the biggest buzz at the show was a brand called Runa. The brand is partially owned by Channing Tatum from Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street. Expect this star power to elevate both the brand and the ingredient.
My favorite Guayusa drink was Runa
Several Ingredients hit a saturation point in the hype cycle.
Several categories/ingredients could become staple products or disappear as they hit the peak or declining on the hype cycle.
- “Gluten” Free– The Gluten free movement is now just standard practice and a Natural foods Category. Much like non-GMO, making gluten-free products is the norm instead of the exception. This is great news for folks with real grain intolerance and folks who are turning it into a fad diet. This category could become fad if the non-allergy gluten free dieters disappear, much like Paleo just flashed out.
- Chia hits a saturation point this year. Chia is now ubiquitous at the natural products expo, appearing in everything from breads, to pasta , to boba-esque drinks. Chia is now at the peak of the hype cycle, expect it to crash over the course of the next two years.
- Gourmet /Healthy pop-corn can now be found in every flavor and every shade of the natural foods spectrum from Non-GMO to Sustainable. This category is still performing well with the general public. I foresee the popcorn being a sustainable category for years.
- Coconut hit an over-saturation point this year. For the third year in a row, coconut water and oil can be found in a variety of forms from sprays, to oils to ingredients in Pop-corn. This trend is at the decline of the hype cycle
- Stevia, the sweetener made from the Stevia Rebaudiana plant lost a little cool at this year’s show. From my count, there are about half as many company’s touting the stevia products. This product is at the tail end of the hype cycle.
Convenience Health Foods
This is perhaps one of the omnipresent trends at the Natural Products Expo 2015 was convenience packaging of health foods. Look out for smaller packaging, wide top containers, and single-use portions.This trend can be seen for pretty much every food category at the show. As the healthy food market has hit main stream, the “convenience” crowd is caring more about their weight than the size of our landfills. I didn’t have a favorite package.
Men’s Health emerges as a growing category
The middle-aged Gen X men are fighting the aging process and older Millennial are starting to get their first white hair and wrinkles. Men tend to experience sudden fear with their first sign of aging. I expect this demographic to seek health food and supplements as an insurance policy to their health.
My favorite Men’s Health Supplement Men’s Collagen is made by YouTheory
Turmeric goes mainstream and Maca root re-emerges
Turmeric used to be a fringe supplement used to treat inflammation, antiseptic, heart health, and antioxidant benefits. This year you are starting to see it as an ingredient move into food and beverages to provide the same health benefits.
Maca root re-emerged as the buzz worthy supplement at the Natural Products Expo 2015 with several vendors selling Maca Root with clinically proven benefits of improving sexual function, mood, energy, skin radiance. Could Maca move into protein shakes? It already has. Could we see it in teas and energy drinks? Maybe next year.
My favorite Turmeric Tea is made by Buddha Tea
Artisan Chocolate reemerges
The chocolate category is making a big comeback at the show. Specifically we are seeing clear push toward localism and artisin craft in chocolate production. Some of the buzz trends at the show included “Bean to bar”, Single-Origin, Organic, and Sustainable. Chocolate was a big part of the show this year with upstarts like ChocXO taking on the establishment chocolatiers like Guittard.
My favorite artisan chocolate is made by ChocXO
Conscious Free Ingredients
Conscious Free products and ingredients are emerging as a major trend, from “rain forest friendly”, “fair trade” to “cruelty free meat”, “Low Carbon Foot Print.” These products allow the target demographic to consume that coffee or burger without feeling guilty that you are causing animal pain or whipping out the traditions of a small Amazonian village pushed out by Acai harvesting.
My favorite conscious vendor is “Raised with Care”
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