No longer a niche, the natural products industry has doubled over the past decade, with total sales expected to reach $200 billion this year. Sales of natural, organic and functional foods grew 8% last year. Compare that to the total food industry, which is a $770 billion industry, but stagnant with 0.5% growth. The 32nd Annual Natural Products Expo East, hosted more than 1,500 brands including over 450 first-time exhibitors and more than 29,000 attendees. Both large and small brands continue to launch innovative products at this important industry show. Some of the highlights and trends we saw at this year’s Expo include:
It’s truly the year of the plant-based diet. Innovative new meat and dairy alternatives are improving upon taste and texture, widening the appeal of a plant-forward way of eating. Faux fish dishes were especially popular this year, especially with concern over the fish supply in the coming years. Ingredient-wise, a rising star in the plant-based foods movement is seitan, also known as vital wheat gluten, which boasts a high protein content and meaty texture.
THE NEXT PROBIOTICS
Consumers are getting a better understanding of the role of probiotics in food and beverages and the immense health benefits they offer. After seeing probiotics in beverages for the past few years, they are becoming more prevalent in food too. Highlights included probiotic snack bars and granolas.
The snack trend is not losing steam at all. It continues to shape a lot of the growth of the industry with alot of innovation to take on the snackification trend. New snack bars are riding the plant-based trend wave with a focus on grains, nuts and seeds, sorghum and gluten-free rolled oats. In case you’re not familiar, snackification is defined as the act of snacking more than eating distinct meals. It’s an especially popular trend currently among young consumers.
A RISING INGREDIENT
Associated with a broad range of health and beauty benefits, collagen is popping up in food and beverage products, including a handful of snack bars on display at Expo East.
THE SWEET SIDE
Already a popular player on the savory side, chickpeas were seen in a lot of sweet treats. Think chocolate covered chickpeas, cookie dough made with chickpeas and sweet flavored hummus.
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