March 11, 2014, Global Food Forums — The 2014 Natural Products Expo West was a “whopper” this year. With some 65,000 attendees and the Anaheim Convention Center bursting at the seams with exhibitors, one could obtain a convenient overview of the natural products industry. Although the warm weather was most certainly a draw for a winter-weary nation, the event easily stands on its own merit for trend trackers, industry insiders and anyone who wants to understand what creativity and innovation is all about.
This blog will provide observations from the four-plus day expo. I also intend to provide examples from some original, great tasting and at least really interesting products in the near future.
Observation 1. If appearance is a clue to beliefs, then much to most of the crowd took health and wellness seriously and personally. As Peter Havens, Co-owner of Global Food Forums, Inc. said “If 2/3rds of the nation is overweight or obese, one could not tell it by the generally lean and fit attendees.”
Observation 2. Can there be too many gluten-free foods, health bars, protein products, raw foods or “no sugar added” products? Not by this event. Gluten-free was almost the standard.
Observation 3. Some 15-20 years ago when I first attended this event, I was told to “keep an open mind” but cautioned not to eat anything (due to serious taste issues). Not today. Tasty products abound and speakers sincerely informed that audience that “taste is really important in foods.” Sounds almost mainstream.
Observation 4. Assuming taste IS important and natural is paramount, products sweetened with maple syrup and fruit-based ingredients seemed on the upswing as well as coconut palm sugar.
Observation 5. Promising entrepreneurs had bragging rights for having been filmed for episodes of “Shark Tank.”
Observation 6. With the emphasis on vegetables, on proteins (including from meats) and the understanding that their perhaps CAN be too many health bars in the marketplace, at least of the overly sweetened kind, new savory health bars are appearing in larger numbers. Examples include Kind Snack’s Strong Honey Smoked BBQ Almond Protein Bar with 10g protein and EPIC’s Lamb Current Mint bar.
Observation 7. While large corporations have become fearful of the marketing term “natural,” many smaller entrepreneurs such as can be found at this show, still use it. Other terms to convey the impression of trust and transparency found at the show beyond “pure” include “bare,” “real,” and “true” or versions of them.
Observation 8. A short list of other food trends include grain-free, paleo-friendly and nutrient dense.
Observation 8. Happily for our Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar (as of this writing, registration for the April 8-9, 2014 event closed a week ago at 240+ attendees due to seating constraints), interest in food proteins seems to be at an all time high. For a list of innovative or significant protein-touting products (most picked up from this show), see our webpage: Protein Foods, Beverages & Nutritional Products (2014)
Claudia Dziuk O’Donnell, Co-owner, Content Editor, Global Food Forums, Inc.