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Expo East: Top food trends

Trying to zero in on trends at Natural Products Expo East is a bit like losing the forest for the trees. Yes, the Boston show was smaller than its sister, Expo West in Anaheim, but regardless of how many times I walked a floor aisle, inevitably some new product would pop out that I’d missed entirely before. Now a few days removed from the show, here are my picks of what stood out.  

Gluten free gets healthy. It's not enough to just be gluten-free, foods that also packed a nutritional punch were hot. Udi’s, (king when it comes to gluten-free bread) debuted a new fiber-rich, gluten-free bagel with 20 grams of added whole grain. Similarly, Purely Elizabeth,  new to the natural's scene, incorporated into its gluten-free cookie mixes organic coconut sugar, which the company said has a higher nutrient profile than maple syrup, and chia seeds for added fiber and omega-3s. Other good-for-you gluten standouts were Mary’s gone Crackers’ Caraway Cracker and The Healthy Pantry's boxed dinner kits.

Non-GMO the hot new label: According to a Nielsen report, GMO-free was the fastest growing health and wellness claim in 2009. On the show floor, I saw the Non-GMO project certified label blazoning products ranging from Salba’s Chia seeds, to Earth Balance’s soy milk. Moreover, I spoke with several manufactures such as the folks at Follow Your Heart, who said they were in the process of applying for the certification.  

Snacks get functional: Companies are taking the guilt out of vegging out by giving their snacks a nutritional edge. Late July introduced a line of organic, omega-3-rich snack chips, made with ingredients such as millet, quinoa and amaranth, and here’s the kicker, they actually taste good. I liked the Dude Ranch flavor. Go Picnic is another company on my radar. The brainchild behind these ready-to-eat snack meals created the in-flight meal boxes for United Airlines. She gives her latest project a healthy edge by choosing nutrient-dense snacks such as multiseed crackers, organic chocolate and tuna.


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