I am always fascinated to see what is new, trendy, innovative and refreshed at every food show I attend. Last week, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the Expo West Natural Food Show in Anaheim, California.
The most notable thing about this show compared to other shows we’ve attended recently is that it’s HUGE. To say the show has outgrown its location is an understatement. I logged over 30,000 steps in two days. The booths sprawled across the entire convention center, plus three ballrooms in the Hilton and Marriot, not to mention the outdoor tented area of additional new products.
Despite the absolutely overwhelming number of products, it was very inspirational to see how many new products are launching this year with missions and purposes to better the lives and eating habits of us all.
What was a little concerning, however, was the fact that I am now entirely convinced that if you plan on eating healthy, you’d better like to snack. I saw very few true meal options and only two fresh options. Apparently, if you eating healthy, you are very busy working, hiking or running after kids because there is absolutely no reason to cook after walking this show.
Hear is a list of the trends I saw over the course of the show:
Crazy for coconut!
Coconut is EVERYWHERE! I love Pina Coladas but now I am crazy for coconut! Whether you are selling coconut oil as an ingredient or as a skin care item, coconut flour, coconut chips, coconut water or energy drinks or just want to include a coconut flavor in your lineup you are in good company.
I hope you all like coconut, because it is here to stay. Coconut yogurt, drinkable yogurt, sparkling soda, ice cream, chocolate, you name it. You can even spread it all over your face and skin in various creams and lotions.
A couple of brands that stood out included the DANG! Coconut chips. The original is like eating a macaroon without all the sugar. Yum! And the B-Raw Coconut Almond bar is about as clean a bar as you get. Made in Maui, they are refrigerated, convenient and very delicious.
Bars! Bars! Bars and Barks!
I have never seen so many bars. For a section that has grown exponentially over the last several years, I hope there is enough space and attention for them all. There are breakfast bars, snack bars, dessert bars, energy bars, raw bars, crunchy and chewy bars.
And now there is a movement to bark. Bark thins came on strong this year and have opened the door for all kinds of chocolate and savory barks. Granola bark, chocolate bark with crispy quinoa, flax and chia.
No Dairy? No Way!
Dairy has been hot and cool in diet trends over the past several years. This year, apparently dairy is back and good for you. Califia Farms served up single to-go bottles of cold brew coffee products, Matcha lattes and more. Grass-fed milk, small farm milk and see-your-cow-eat-all-day milk were all over.
Yogurts took the stage as well. Greek, Icelandic, Australian and spoonable Lifeway Keifer are now available with all kinds of toppings, jams, flavors.
Snacks and Chips
Well let’s just say that just about anything can be puffed, fried, baked and extruded. Corn, quinoa, lentils, beans, chickpeas, potatoes, corn, wheat rice, green peas and veggies.
A new company out of Canada, SPOKES.CA, had a great new potato product where eating the entire bag will only set you back 300 calories. And they were good! Move over, popcorn!
Banana Chips were also new. Offered in sweet or savory flavors, they are a new Paleo way to enjoy snacks on the go.
Nuts for Nut Butters
Today butter is a thing of the past, unless it’s Ghee. Ghee is simply clarified butter. But not all Ghee is the same. At the show, I tried a truffle salt Ghee from Fourthandheart.com that was so good I could not believe it.
Nut butters are all the rage and they too have various options. Crunchy, smooth, super creamy and combos. One of my personal favorites was Bestie by the Peanut Butter Company. These were so creamy and yummy with absolutely no sugar added. But I must have counted 20+ nut butter companies on the show floor.
Sparkling drinking vinegar, an alternative to soda but remarkably flavorful and good for you. Pressery.com was my favorite on the floor made with coconut vinegar.
Drinkable soups were also new. DrinkZupa.com has an interesting line of drinkable cold vegetable soups with some really creative combinations. I will probably be a late adopter because I still like my soup warm and in a bowl, but they were tasty.
Overall, it was a great show. It was good to see all the category leaders launching new line extensions like Rice Dream and coconut milk, delicious! And to see new and upcoming, brave companies trying to change the world and health all in one place.
If you can attend next year I recommend it. But wear comfortable shoes!