“Are you going to the Natural Products Expo East?” asked my friend S. Having been to the Specialty Fancy Foods Show for many years (BC = Before Covid), I was eager to see what was trending — from natural and organic to health-oriented and sustainable.(It was amazing to see how many of the same foods and beverages are trending as three years ago.)
“You’re approved for a media pass” was all I needed to make it happen. And there I was a few days later in the middle of the Philadelphia Convention Center along with 18,500 other attendees.
Ready, set, go!
With my step-counter in check, I walked up and down the aisles aiming to hit as many of the 1,200+ exhibitors as I could in about 3.5 hours. It was a tough challenge. By the end of 2 hours my feet were tired and my stomach full. Plus, I was totally hydrated beyond normal limits from all the teas, waters and kombucha I sampled (which I’ll explain in more detail later). Thankfully, after a bathroom break and a few good deep breaths I had a second wind and finished the Expo sparing only a few supplements.
Judi’s trend report from Natural Products Expo East
Business ETHOS around the environment and inclusivity was buzzing. It was nice to see how many of these entrepreneurial companies were interested in saving the planet, whether it was with no GMOs, no chemical fertilizers, no pesticides or herbicides; using local farmers; clean labels free of additives, gums and preservatives, or less sugar and salt. I didn’t notice any large consumer products companies in attendance. It was a much more entrepreneurial affair with several female-and-minority-owned start-ups.
Now that I’ve organized my sample stash and my notes, I’m here to report the trends. I’ll group them into themes to make it easier to follow. Many of these products can be ordered online or via Amazon. And quite a few are available in supermarkets, health food stores, or Whole Foods.
What was my favorite of them all? It was the Oatly Frozen Novelty Bars. These 100% plant-based treats are worth the indulgence. They have plenty of fat and taste delicious!
Staying hydrated with a multitude of beverages
With the number of new natural and organic beverages on the market there should be no reason people can’t stay hydrated. Water is the best way, but if you prefer otherwise there’s plenty of choices. Watch the ingredients though, some use stevia to sweeten beverages, others use agave or maple syrup. Here’s a few that I found of interest.
– Water, water, and more water was being poured. Loftiwater is non-carbonated shimmering bubbles with no added sugars in flavors like lemon, peach and grapefruit. Som Sleep Drinks are berry-flavored water with a whole lotta stuff to help you fall asleep: melatonin, magnesium, vitamin B6, L-Theanine and GABA. Waterdrop are fruit and plant extracts as well as vitamins that you drop into cold water for flavor and more functional elements. Waterdrop also sells pretty glass water bottles to carry your flavored water.
It’s tea time either cold or hot. Needs & Wants sparkling 100% plant-based teas combine one of nature’s oldest superfruits with real fruit juice and natural botanicals to support daily immunity, stress relief and digestive health. St James offers Green Teas with fruit flavors. Lone Star Botanicals handcrafts teas with medicinal properties that include its healing herbs in varieties such as Be Still peace tea, Be Well wellness tea, and Goddess women’s tea.
– I was all juiced up. I was impressed with Greenhouse Beverages. They make cold-pressed juices in fruits and greens combinations. Greenhouse sells a selection of Kombuchas and Boosters, which they say are mini hits of health. In flavors like Fiery Ginger (for immunity), Farma-C (for vitamins) and Inside Job (for digestion)– each shot offers a concentrated dose of potent, functional, plant-based ingredients.
Pulp & Press puts 3-4 pounds of organic fruits & vegetables in each bottle. Its juice cleanses peaked my interest. I’ve always wanted to try a cleanse. Whether it’s a 2 or 5 day cleanse – Pulp & Press experts have created every range to make cleansing easy.
– So many other beverages are on the market. I sampled Malk which are 100% organic almond and oat milks. (I drink a lot of almond milk but prefer it a tad sweeter.) I sipped Culture Pop Soda made with real organic fruit juice, herbs & spices and live probiotics. I tried Bea’s SQUEEZE Lavender Lemonade. I passed on Jordan’s SKINNY Mixes for coffee and cocktails – the booth was packed so I believe it’s trending. The way they stay skinny is natural sweetness from stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol, agave and a touch of cane sugar. Note that monk fruit is an emerging sweetener. There was even a monk fruit booth.
Snacking to your heart’s content, sometimes with added protein
There are all kinds of gluten-free and protein-packed snacks that appear to be au-natural. My reminder with any of these snacks is to make sure to read the labels and check the calories and serving sizes. Some of these treats may have more sodium than you may need.
– Protein Pressels caught my attention. They have 5 grams of plant based protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving. I’m forever on the hunt for new ways to get fiber into my diet.
– Confetti Veggie Chips are heavily seasoned colorful upcycled snacks made from ugly veggies to reduce food waste. The company donates a portion of its nutrient dense snacks to end hunger and malnutrition by working with global humanitarian missions to distribute snacks in the poorest parts of the world.
– Top Seedz has a nice crisp appeal. Started in 2017 in Buffalo, NY, the female-owned company hand-makes seed crackers and roasted seeds, and has recently started selling raw seeds and seed cracker mix (think of a cake mix for crackers).
– So many other snacks on the shelves — from Frankies Organic to Uglie’s kettle chips, bet you can’t eat just one. Have you ever tasted Siete grain-free tortilla chips? Light and crispy chips with lime are my preferred flavor. Siete offers other high quality Mexican products: Churros, Salsas, Mexican cookies, refried beans, plus grain-free tortillas made with almond, cassava or chickpea flour.
Needing a Keto fix or craving a superfood? No worries!
The keto diet, where you overload on protein is still thriving. Or it appears that way based on the number of keto products I experienced at the Expo. Nutrail Keto Nut Granola and Alvarado Wheat KETO Multigrain bread – are two examples made for low carb diets. Same for Superfoods and Sprouted foods. One Degree Organic Foods makes a wide variety of sprouted cereals, granolas and flours. Purely Elizabeth brand makes Superfood cereals and oatmeals too.
Plant-based meat substitutes continue to thrive. I tasted Very Good Butchers plant based butcher from British Columbia and No Bull The True Veggie Burger. I’m not a big fan of these non-meat products as most have many additives to make them taste good.
One Superfood that I vote for is sweet potatoes. That’s why Roots won me over with their sweet potato frites, croutons and toasts. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, these frozen bites are quite tasty. Only I have to say that the toasts, while still good, are more like sweet potato slices.
Soups and spices go together – just because I said so
Spices and salt exhibitors were sprinkled around the Expo. There were Indian spices from Rumi in flavors like Kabul Piquant Chicken. I have a jar I intend to use the next time I bake or grill chicken. It’s a piquant combination of fennel seed, coriander, orange peel, cardamom, ginger, clove, hibiscus. cinnamon, elderflower, rose petal and saffron. The Rumi rep said it is one of its most popular. Beyond spices there was Microsalt, the first 50% less sodium salt shaker with no compromise on taste.
I was intrigued by how many ready-to-serve or make miso and ramen soup starters are available. Ocean’s HALO caught my eye, I have a sample and can’t wait to try it. Ocean’s HALO makes Pho Noodle Bowl kits complete with organic rice noodles and dried veggies that you heat and eat in a rich & savory kelp-based broth.
Making room to indulge with desserts
It’s clear that there is room to eat sweets even if they are vegan or organic. A few that stood out are:
–Fat Badger Bakery – Vegan Cookies – are they worth the calories? I was able to devour a few bites of a chocolate chip.
– ChocolateXOXO – The dark chocolate caramel was hard to resist as was the peanut butter cup.
– Enhanced Cookie Dough – this vegan and gluten-free cookie dough with supplements was being baked up into chocolate chip cookies. I couldn’t get near this booth it was so busy. May have to go buy some and bake my own.
— Oatly Soft Serve dairy-free dessert was quite delicious. You know this brand is one of my favs. You can search on its website to find out where the soft serve is available. I had it in California.
More trends that I noticed but my stomach was too full to consume
Have you ever made overnight oats? They are trendy. My daughter A makes them each night for breakfast the next morning. Now you can buy Brekki Overnight Oats or MUSH in the refrigerator section. I’ll keep my oats hot thank you.
Hummus and tahini are here to stay. I was happy to see that students from my alma mater Cornell founded Ithaca Hummus named for the town where they went to school. And there is a new Soom dark chocolate tahini to spread on grahams or fruits. I LOVE tahini so can’t wait to try this chocolate version, especially since the company is female-owned.
Yogurt seems to be ever-expanding with more organic varieties like Thor’s Skyr Yogurt. which is thicker than regular yogurt because it’s higher in protein and lower in sugar. BTW did you see that certain flavored yogurts are no longer considered healthy according to the new FDA guidelines for healthy? I prefer plain yogurt and add my own frozen or fresh fruits.
Last but not least, for beauty’s sake
I could have written a separate post on the beauty trends but thought I’d squeeze it in here:
-There’s CBD infused everything from lotions to oils, to gummies and face cream. Shikai body lotion is one sample that made it into my bag.
-There’s collagen infused everything such as YouTheory Collagen liquid and capsules with mega doses or in powder form.
– Muscle recovery is big — Epsom Muscle Recovery Lotion is one item I want to try. There’s nothing like a nice Epsom salt bath to relax tired muscles.
-There are too many immune support supplements to mention, take my word it’s a trend. As is green living with clean products like Art of Green to clean your home.
It’s a wrap from the 2022 Natural Products Expo East.
Phew, that was a lot to cover in less than 2000 words. Maybe if I use all these natural products I’ll be so healthy I won’t have to use any of my Medicare supplement and drug plan that I just signed up for yesterday. Cheers to being strong and au natural during my life after 65. OMG I can’t believe I’m reaching a major milestone next year!