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Are you afraid you missed out on something big at Expo East? Find out which trends and products impressed these die-hard industry experts in this Natural Products Expo Virtual overview.

Shara Rutberg

October 14, 2022

4 Min Read
Highlights from Natural Products Expo East

Even with an endless supply of plant-based energy drinks on hand, no one could have made it to every interesting booth at Natural Products Expo East at the end of September. After all, more than 1,100 brands—including more than 400 new to the event—exhibited in Philadelphia.

While everyone in attendance had different priorities, it's human nature to wonder what was missed. The Natural Products Expo Virtual session, "Expo East Post-Show Wrap: Top Trends & Takeaways from Philly," offers an overview of the show and the brands that stood out. Adrienne Smith, content director at New Hope Network, Gianna Rosenbach, a digital content creator at New Hope Network, and Jessica Maniscalco, a senior retail insights manager at SPINS, shared their insights.

Rosenbach especially loved brands that conveyed their ownership stories, such Pocket Latte, a brand of Vietnamese-flavored chocolate-covered candied nuts. "They did a really lovely job telling their story. You can just taste the heart that goes into it."

"The storytelling makes the brand," agreed Smith. "And that's why we go to Expo, to talk to the founders and hear their brand stories in person. What's more inspiring than that?"

Highlights from Natural Products Expo East

Telling sustainability stories

"Sustainability was huge at Expo. I saw it manifested in so many different ways, so many different products," Smith said. "One of the most exciting things to see was how brands are communicating sustainability, their messaging."

Related:How retailers can broaden vendor diversity on store shelves

Favorites:

Matriark Foods Pasta Sauces—The packaging for these carbon-neutral, upcycled pasta sauces proclaims, "For the people for the planet."

Bee's Wrap Beeswax Wrap— The natural alternative to plastic wrap for food storage is made from harvested beeswax, cotton and tree resin.

Highlights from Natural Products Expo East

Upcycling picking up

The new Upcycled Certified Standard popped up across the Expo East show floor. "It's growing so quickly," Smith said. "It's really inspiring to see it start making its way through the show floor."

Favorites:

Beyond the Equator—Through a partnership with Ocean Spray, this brand upcycles cranberry castoffs to create innovative cranberry seed shakers and flours.

Up to Good's Upcycled cascara—The fleshy fruit around coffee beans fuels this line of sparkling energy drinks.

Highlights from Natural Products Expo East

Regenerative agriculture was another theme sprouting from all corners of the show—and not just on plant-based products. "We talk about plant-based a lot, and we talk about vegan and vegetarian, there are still a lot of consumers eating meat products," said Maniscalco, who was impressed with the number of poultry brands talking about regenerative practices.

Related:Sustainability: Creating a regenerative agricultural system

Favorite:

Cooks Venture—This Arkansas-based brand raises heirloom chickens in tree-covered pastures in the Ozark's foothills. And yes, the birds go up in the trees. With more foraging options for the birds, the soil sequesters five to 10 times more carbon than it would without the trees, Maniscalco said.

Highlights from Natural Products Expo East

Packaging progress

Packaging and its related waste is often a topic of discussion in the natural products industry.

Favorites:

Pasta Straws—A simple, sustainable product meets simple, sustainable packaging with pasta straws, made of biodegradable rice flour and corn starch. Pasta straws hold their own against a beverage for 60 minutes without becoming soggy like paper straws. The straws are biodegradable, and they come in a recyclable package.

Drought Juice—The brand delivers 25 daily shots in bulk in its Immunity Potion Carton, like a box of wine. "It's really inspiring and really pointing the direction I think we should be going, with less individually-packaged things and more creative bulk solutions," Smith said.

The Unscented Company—This women-owned, Certified B Corp offers lines of unscented home and personal care products that can be refilled at home or in-store. Refills of body soap, lotion and shampoo, for example, are sold in 2 liter pouches.

Highlights from Natural Products Expo East

(Multi-)functional foods deliver more bang for your buck

"With inflation, people are looking for products to work a little bit harder for them, to multi-task," Maniscalco said. Many featured ingredients aimed at the conditions SPINS' data show are trending: cognitive health, mood support and sleep.

Favorites:

Fx Chocolate—Handcrafted, biodynamic, keto-friendly, vegan chocolates contain a functional dose of supplements such as melatonin and GABA.

Three Spirit—Functional elixirs with novel, clean flavors.

 

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Everyone who registered for Natural Products Expo East or Natural Products Expo Virtual can watch this session, "Expo East Post-Show Wrap: Top Trends & Takeaways from Philly."  Other Expo East events and educational sessions can be found on the NPEV On-demand Content page or the New Hope Network Events app. 

 

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