While the abundance of plant-based options at Natural Products Expo East this year was evident, what stood out the most was the subtle shift in product formulation and positioning.

Gianna Rosenbach, Content Creator, CPG and Digital

October 26, 2023

19 Slides

A number of plant-based products stole the limelight at Natural Products Expo East this year. Beyond the mere fact of being plant-based, however, these products shone for their exceptional quality, taste and use of simple ingredients. Unlike at previous years' shows, where the terms vegan, plant-based and (meat or dairy, etc.) alternative may have taken center stage, this year's class of plant-based products seemed to have graduated to a different approach. Instead of loudly proclaiming their vegan or plant-based status on their labels, these brands opted to let the quality of their products do the talking.

Furthermore, innovation within the plant-based category was exceptional at Expo East, reflected in brands that were focusing on creating products derived from true, plant-based ingredients, rather than merely offering vegan alternatives. These standout products emphasized simplicity and recognizability in their ingredients. Rather than making "vegan" the central theme, brands incorporated it subtly into their packaging, allowing other product attributes to shine.

The "why" behind this shift for brands

Product-centric approach

Brands are letting their products speak for themselves. They are creating plant-based offerings that are elevated, sophisticated and, most importantly, that taste good. The products aim to provide consumers with a satisfying culinary experience, regardless of whether they are plant-based or not.

Simplicity and transparency

Unlike other plant-based alternatives that rely on complex and processed ingredients to mimic animal products, these standout products prioritize simple, recognizable ingredients. The goal is to offer consumers real food without the need for sacrifice with regard to taste or nutrition.

More than plant-based

The packaging and branding of these products do not heavily emphasize their vegan nature. Instead, being plant-based is just a part of the product's story, giving more attention to qualities like taste, sustainability or health benefits.

Appealing to a broader audience

Brands are recognizing that not everyone interested in plant-based options identifies as vegan. By avoiding the "vegan" label and making its products more inclusive, a brand can attract a wider range of consumers, including flexitarians and those exploring plant-based choices without committing to a fully vegan lifestyle.

Click through this gallery to discover high-quality, satisfying and transparent plant-based products that will appeal to a diverse range of consumers and set the tone for the next generation of plant-based.

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About the Author(s)

Gianna Rosenbach

Content Creator, CPG and Digital, New Hope Network

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