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November 27, 2023
Thanks to Natural Products Expo, where brands of all sizes first display their innovative businesses and product launches, along with daily industry reporting and the coveted NEXTY Awards that honor the best of CPG, New Hope Network’s editors and trend spotters have a front row seat to observe “what’s next” in the multi-billion-dollar natural products industry. Based on highlights from this year, here are the top food and nutrition trends—from evolved agriculture models to fun, fresh and functional products—to have on your radar in 2024 and beyond!
Biodiversity is declining rapidly, but food brands are unlocking a range of sustainable supply chains to help change that. A small fraction of the world’s plants currently enters the American diet and lifestyle; however, investments in regenerative and indigenous supply chains, and the use of AI to identify novel botanicals are supporting global biodiversity by introducing a myriad of novel plants into food, beverages and supplements. In 2024, we expect to see many more companies incorporating sustainably sourced, delicious-tasting and nutrient-dense plants from across the globe into their products.
Standout products: Sanchi Bean & Lentil Crisps, Big Bold Health Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Flour, Gruff Ancient Grain Grits, Surthrival Black Walnut Protein Powder
Plant-based food lovers rejoice! The first big wave of plant-based products was mainly burgers, cheese slices and nuggets (and more nuggets). Now “craft vegan" is delivering nuanced, complex flavors; healthful, real food ingredients; and bespoke branding in the form of plant-based artisanal cheeses, fine deli alternatives, plant-based seafood and dairy-free butters and creams that have as much elan as those made from animal sources. The latest offerings have persuaded many industry insiders that vegan innovation has reached new heights.
Standout products: Prime Roots Koji Salami, Climax Foods Climax Blue, Miyoko’s Creamery Organic Vegan Butter, Zeroe Vegan Caviar
Food is joy—and so is health—so it’s no wonder that natural products companies are leaning into happiness, love and empowerment with messages such as “inner love,” “good vibes” and “radiant glow." Whether eliciting joy through a product’s fun branding, its indulgent flavors and formats or its overarching mission, food, beverage and nutrition brands will continue quenching consumers’ quest for happiness in the year ahead.
Standout products: Goodles Down the Hatch, Happy Wolf Apple Cinnamon Fridge Fresh Bars, Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Company Aura Holistic Juice, FX Chocolate Sunshine Vitamin D & Vitamin K Dark Chocolate Supplement
Grocery aisles are far more diverse than ever before. Culturally inspired and heritage-rooted foods aim to recover and represent flavors and perspectives from across the globe. The movement goes beyond a surface-level exploration of ingredients and flavors. Instead, brands turn to ancestral techniques that embody authenticity, traditional wisdom and diverse cultures, while building bridges between communities and uniting people through shared culinary experiences. At the same time, this trend challenges stereotypes associated with foods perceived as “foreign” and creates an environment of curiosity and openness in the grocery store.
Standout products: Nüma Creamy Vanilla Taffy, Ya Oaxaca Mole Negro, Better Sour Calamansi Gummy Candy, Xinca Carrot Cheese and Loroco Pupusas
Competition continues to evolve into collaboration in the natural products industry, where CPG companies are introducing exciting and unexpected products through partnerships. These collaborations fuel innovation, increase brand awareness and support mission and sustainability goals. For brands focused on increasing sustainability, upcycling partnerships in particular are a win-win-win. One brand creates a new product, while the other reduces or eliminates waste from leftover material/product.
Standout products: Pocket's Chocolates and Blue Bottle Coffee NOLA Oat Milk Chocolate Almonds, Little Sesame and Fly By Jing Pumpkin Chili Crisp Hummus, Tea Drops and Copper Cow Coffee Ube Latte Kit
Regenerative agriculture, which has gained momentum thanks to its measurable climate outcomes, is proving its human health prowess, too. According to a recent study, regenerative practices can have a positive effect on the nutrient density and quality of crops. It’s no wonder, then, that innovative brands such as SIMPLi, White Leaf Provisions, True Grace Health and Navitas Organics are touting the nutrient density and quality of their regenerative products. As additional evidence mounts, expect more companies to message the good-for-you, right along with good-for-the-planet, perks of regenerative.
Standout products: SIMPLi Tri-Color Quinoa, White Leaf Provisions Tomato, Fennel and Spelt Purée, True Grace Superfood Powder Broccoli Microgreens, Navitas Organics Unsweetened Cacao Powder
Whether they’re going totally dry or opting for the more moderate “damp” approach, consumers everywhere (especially sober-curious Gen Zers) are seeking delicious drinks that support a healthier, more present lifestyle. Brands are responding by building a category centered around adult nonalcoholic beers, wines, spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails (think booze-free, low-sugar canned and bottled cosmos, mimosas, margs and bellinis). Whether incorporating foraged herbaceous botanicals; bright, fresh citrus; or bitter, dynamic hops, today’s NA options give us reason to celebrate.
Standout products: Parch Prickly Pear Agave Cocktail, Sayso Skinny Spicy Margarita, Recess Zero Proof Ginger Lime "Mule," Mingle Mocktails Cranberry Cosmo
Once discussed only in embarrassed whispers and euphemisms, women’s health is taking center stage. Until recently, the women’s health market has focused almost entirely on reproductive health, childbirth and PMS. But today, smart and often women-founded brands are also addressing crucial issues such as cognitive and cardiovascular function, stress and mental health and hormonal imbalance across generations. There’s now an effective and authentic product for every woman, of every age. New Hope Network’s Nutrition Business Journal data shows growth of menopause supplements, specifically, is outpacing total supplement sales growth, a trend likely to continue for the next three years.
Standout products: Winged Women’s Wellness Hot Momma Menopause Support Capsules, Solaray Her Life Stages PMS & Menstrual, HUM Private Party, Motherlove More Milk Moringa
Everything affects everything, and while the holism of this may not be new to natural health diehards, it’s an awareness that’s growing in mainstream culture thanks, in part, to more medical science around the gut-related axes. Beginning with the gut/brain axis, we’ve come to recognize how the gut influences all other health systems in the body. Driving this is the vast human microbiome, colonies of microorganisms that outnumber human cells by 10 to 1. A healthy microbiome means better brain health, better heart health and even improved mood and mental health. Indeed, it’s all connected.
Standout products: Neuralli PS128 Medical Probiotic, Floradapt Mood & Stress Probiotic + Prebiotic, Qualia Synbiotic Optimized Digestion
Feel-good foods, including cookie dough, chocolates, cereals and so much more, are embracing both clean label and innovative functional formats that pack in high quantities of potent botanicals: think ashwagandha root, antioxidants and especially mushrooms. Meanwhile, cognitive health supplements are doubling down on efficacious dosages of high-performing, mind-supporting ingredients. Fungi in its many forms (lion’s mane, chaga and reishi, oh my!) remain the darling of the functional food and beverage and supplements industries, offering a diverse range of applications and benefits, specifically targeting energy and focus. Meanwhile, trusty standbys like omega-3s, vitamin D and the B vitamins are playing a supporting role in the latest cutting-edge functional foods that support mind and body.
Standout products: Host Defense Mushrooms MycoBrew Cocoa "Relax & Savor," Deux Enhanced Cookie Dough Pumpkin Spice, Mindright Toasted Coconut Protein Bar, Natural Stacks Mood Stack
Carbon accounting and carbon-neutral or -negative commitments are making the rounds among emerging and established brands. As companies find levers in the toolbox to help them account for and reduce or mitigate their carbon footprint, they are also discovering better and more efficient ways to bring consumers along on their sustainability journeys. From statistics listed on packaging to stories shared on websites and social media, transparency, communication and vulnerability is key to building trust.
Standout products: Alter Eco Mint Blackout, Neutral Foods Extra Creamy Unsalted Butter, Patagonia Provisions Sourdough Sea Salt Crackers, Numi Tea Hojicha
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