Allie Rabman

CircleUp's top trends and brands from Expo East '16

Disruption in condiments and beverages is on the rise.

While Fashion Week comes in full force each fall, and retailers swap out inventory for the latest trends, the natural products world has its own show—Natural Products Expo East. Last week, natural food and beverage products from all over the nation gathered in Baltimore to debut new offerings and hear from those at the forefront of the industry’s innovation.

Based on the conversations and products at Natural Products Expo East this year, cross checked with data from CircleUp's marketplace, there are a few pertinent trends that have been on the rise over the last year, as well as new trends just emerging in the natural food and beverage industry. These trends span products revitalizing classic staples, and products creating entirely new experiences.

When it comes to shaking up old, traditional staples, it's hard to imagine a category better poised for disruption than condiments. Ketchup, mayo, mustard and even hot sauces have largely come from a monopoly of big brands putting out unhealthy products that contain a laundry list of foreign ingredients. Large brands in almost every subcategory of the condiment space have been losing share to smaller brands.

This category has faced increased scrutiny as people continue to demand quality in all aspects of their consumption. But now, we're seeing new condiment brands reinventing traditional sauces, ketchups, butters, oils and more. A few of our favorites:

  • Fourth & Heart is a leader in innovation in the condiment space with its grass-fed, spreadable clarified butters that are lactose- and dairy-free.
  • Red Duck Foods is pioneering better ketchups and curry sauces to give consumers traditional products with cleaner and high-quality ingredients.
  • Primal Kitchen offers everything from avocado oils to dressings to spreads. These products are antioxidant-rich, contain healthy fats and have no synthetic or artificial ingredients.

When it comes to creating new product experiences, the beverage category in particular is pulling ahead, as confirmed by the lines of beverage at Expo East. Popular new beverage brands spanned a slew of ready-to-drink products like cold brew, drinkable proteins and bottled soups, as well as emerging lines of herbal and matcha alternatives. These products, which are defining entirely new categories or product experiences, include:

  • REBBL: REBBL is the fastest-selling super herb beverage at natural foods stores, according to SPINS data. These coconut milk-based drinks contain super herbs that have used in eastern medicine for decades to relieve stress, and are only now making their way into mainstream America.
  • Owl's Brew: Owl’s Brew tea-based cocktail mixers, and new line of tea-brewed beers are on-trend with low-alcohol beer and beverages, which are seeing impressive growth.
  • Live Kombucha: Kombucha is still on top when it comes to functional beverages. The trend shows no sign of slowing down. Live Kombucha is taking advantage of this trend with its line of sparking drinking vinegars. A big perk of vinegars and probiotics is they keep your stomach acid levels in check, helping the body further break down proteins and fats.

Expo East was chock full of new and familiar brands reviving classic staples and creating new categories altogether. We're excited to see, and taste, the rest of what they have to offer in years to come.

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