Anyone and everyone who’s active in the natural food and beverage space knows about the Natural Products Expo. This year’s Expo West held in Anaheim, CA drew over 80,000 attendees and featured 3,000+ innovative brands that are shaking up the industry.
With a blend of longtime veterans and upstart newbies (plus everything in between), the show serves as a spotlight for the disruption happening now in the health-and-wellness world.
Repsly had the chance to roam the floor at this mega-event, and we heard, saw, and tasted a lot of stuff worth sharing. Here are our top highlights from this year’s show:
Who Was Hot
With so many brands attracting attention with giveaways, product launches, and social media contests, it’s hard to choose just a few to showcase. However, we think the following brands nailed it in terms of getting noticed and making a lasting impression.
This SoCal-based organic coffee and tea company is committed to fair trade values. Their booth had a relaxed “coffee shop” vibe that made it stand out from a lot of the loud design styles that surrounded it. Groundwork kept passerby caffeinated with their single-origin cold brew samples.
Cauliflower is definitely having a moment. Caulipower started off with their veggie-based pizza crusts, and just unveiled a new line of universal baking mixes during the show. They used their booth to demonstrate the versatility of the veg.
The dairy-free disrupter proves that plant-based eating is easy. Daiya’s booth included samplings of products ranging from cheese sticks, to pizzas, to popsicles, allowing attendees to see how their products fit perfectly into every aspect of a meal. They also used the show as a platform to unveil their latest products.
No stranger in the organics space, Stonyfield remains a fixture at shows like Expo West. This time around, they used their clout to make a positive political statement with the slogan “Make Earth cool again,” an obvious reference to the one used by the President on the campaign trail.
What We Learned
Even with thousands of unique brands housed under one roof, there were some key trends we singled out as being dominant throughout the show.
This antioxidant-rich superfood is known to increase stamina, flight inflammation, and improve sleep, among other benefits. Cheribundi knows the value of this fruit and bottles the juice in its purest form with no additives. Other brands are flavoring their products with tart cherry or combining it with other functional products like kombucha, à la Live Soda.
@Cheribundi has some exciting news we announced this weekend at @expowest 🎉 Our all new 100% Tart Cherry Juice! 🍒 RETWEET for a chance to win a FREE 30PK #cheribundi💯 #cheribundi100 #expowest #expowest2018 pic.twitter.com/azmP1qCcqI— Cheribundi (@cheribundi) March 10, 2018
Frozen Fruit Snacks
Sometimes you just want that nostalgic childhood snack like a popsicle. But most of us don’t want artificial colors, flavors, and other junk in our guilty pleasures. Luckily, we saw lots of brands like Chloe’s Fruit, Froozer, and Goodpop taking the guilt out of frozen treats and making them with 100% real fruit.
Calling all @NatProdExpo attendees! Stop by our booth #4907 for pops, soft serve & Chloe (if you’re lucky ☺️)! See you soon! 👋🍓 #ExpoWestTrends #expowest #chloesfruit #ExpoWest18 pic.twitter.com/3FwILRawJc— @chloesfruit (@chloesfruit) March 9, 2018
Whether to enhance athletic performance, or just to overcome the afternoon slump, tons of consumers find themselves reaching for energy drinks. Yet most energy drinks are full of unwanted toxins. The market is waking up and demanding healthier alternatives that are organic, low-sugar, or plant-based, as seen with brands like MATI Energy, RUNA, and Dark Dog Organic.
This anti-inflammatory spice has been used for centuries in the far East and is gaining serious traction in the West. The orange all-star was all over the show floor, used in a beverage at Temple Turmeric, a wellness shot at Kor Shots, and a latte at Gaia Herbs.
Bonus: Best of Booths
A huge part of exhibiting at a trade show is designing a booth that conveys what your brand is all about and leaves a lasting impression on everyone who stops by. Food and beverage companies are tasked with doing something engaging in today’s consumer-driven marketplace.
It was hard to narrow it down, but we think these guys did a stand-up job, despite not all having multi-million dollar marketing budgets:
The Boston-born pickle company used their 20-foot booth space as a place to try product, discover the brand, and network. From a sampling perspective, Grillo’s served bite-sized versions of their finest, plus used the brine for “pickle back” shots (i.e. whiskey followed by pickle juice), showing how versatile the product is. They also showed off custom merchandise, had a sitting area where buyers and investors could meet with execs, and kept marketing visuals on loop on a small screen.
A leader in the plant-based food scene (and favorite of Nuun Hydration’s Kevin Rutheford), Beyond Meat debuted their new vegan sausages in a sort of street-vendor style, complete with wooden tables and chairs reminiscent of an outdoor cafe or your friend’s backyard.
A post shared by Beyond Meat (@beyondmeat) on
A company’s booth doesn’t have to be boring just because they don’t make products for the end-user. Canadian ingredients supplier Avafina Organics’ “Mother Nature” stole the show, captivating those who approached her with elegant movements and gentle music playing in the background. She also served as a metaphor for the company’s commitment to bettering the planet.
Trade shows are experiential in nature, and Kodiak Cakes capitalized on this by transforming their oversized booth into a makeshift campsite. Attendees could sample a variety of their baked goods, take a photo with their bear mascot, or just hang out by the “fire.”
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Have any more details from the show you think we should know about? Share with us in the comments!
Victoria is a Marketing Associate at Repsly, where she leads the company's P.R. and social media efforts. You can also catch her prepping for slew of exciting industry events. A New England native, Victoria has spent time living in Italy and traveling throughout Europe before settling back in Boston. When she's not planning her next trip, V is probably tasting wine or brushing up on her Italian.