15 trends you will spot at Expo East 2019
With about 1,300 exhibitors and 350 first-timers at Natural Products Expo East 2019, sneak a peek at the top innovation trends as they relate to dominant macro forces shaping the industry.
Brands are adopting reduce, reuse, recycle principles in their business models, resulting in crafty solutions to eke out the most value from ingredients and materials.
the depth of a trend
Social, environmental, health and animal welfare concerns have dogged animal-based agriculture. Now, natural brands are meeting consumer demand to replace or reduce consumption of meat and dairy with plants.
eat more plants
Anti-plastic. Plastic is the ugliest word in town. It’s a pollution eyesore making its mark on oceans and waterways around the world, while it leaches lethal toxins into the environment through slow degradation or burning processes. The anti-plastic movement takes the form of plant-based compostable materials—bioplastics that mimic petroleum-based plastics with similar pliability—while other brands look to nonsynthetic, natural alternatives such as paper-based packaging.
Loving Earth (booth 8013) wraps its regenerative chocolate bars in cardboard-like packaging suitable for recycling or composting. Meanwhile Organic Essence is truly innovating the skin care category by packaging shea butters, deodorants and lip balms in paper—safe for people and planet.
Upcycled ingredients. To reduce waste and to
provide more value-add sales opportunities, brands
are reviewing existing waste streams and collaborating at various steps in the supply chain to upcycle discarded or wasted ingredients. Consumers are embracing waste reduction opportunities in their lifestyle choices, and innovation such as upcycling spent grain from breweries into a nutrition bar or barley-based beverage is turning heads.
Uglies Potato Chips (booth 457) sends ugly produce higher up the value chain by using rejected potatoes. Look out for discarded coffee fruit turned tea or energy drink, too.
Bamboo. Bamboo is in the spotlight as a
low-maintenance and easily replenished resource.
Mother Earth’s finite resources such as soil, land and water struggle to meet our needs. Exploring materials that require minimal resources to cultivate and are gentler on the planet’s digestive process—think biodegradable—makes bamboo and similar plants, such as algae, desirable.
Bamboo is morphing into many innovative options. Woobamboo (booth 2734) features bamboo in its line of toothbrushes, while Patch transforms bamboo into bandages. Both are compostable. And IGZU is the first to make a ready-to-drink tea chock-full of bamboo leaf health benefits.
Wow factor. No matter how convicted consumers
are in their food-based values, nothing sells unless
it delivers a good experience. When it comes to vegan and vegetarian innovation, the original bar was set low. But gone are the days of bland tofu scrambles and dense bean burgers. Today’s plant-based consumer expects intense flavor, satisfying crunch and umami-like tastes.
Miyoko’s Kitchen (booth 644) and brands like it are not just meeting the need for alternatives to animal-based products; they’re winning over longtime vegans, new converts and flexitarians alike in their R&D approach and creating really good-tasting (sometimes artisan, smallbatch even) plant-based options that conjure a cultlike following.
Health heroes. Popular advice to up intake of
nutrient-dense plants is to “eat the rainbow,” or “fill
half your plate with veggies.” These positive food messages (eat more of, not less of) resonate with omnivores to vegans. Considering nutrition research, no category has more scientific backing than produce. Add research on nuts, whole grains and legumes to the mix, and the health benefits of plant-based compounds is more than enough to sway consumers seeking minor or major health makeovers.
Brands such as Path of Life (booth 8106) are creatively catering to health seekers craving new ways to “eat their veggies,” picky kids avoiding broccoli and snackers hungry for exotic plant superstars.
Better for all. The ugly side effects of the
livestock industry are drivers for consumers
opting for more plants as they either reduce or stop consumption of animal-based foods. Whether it’s a desire to shrink their personal carbon footprint or a conviction that animals should not be human food—or both—consumers in this cohort are driven by a strong connection between their values and food choices.
Brands like Caulipower (booth 8102) are forging ahead with plant-based options that either closely mimic the meat or dairy experience (ie: burgers that “bleed” when grilled) or that offer healthy, convenient alternatives that don’t try to be the real thing.
More and more brands are engaging in farm production and working to improve environmental practices in their supply systems.
Dairy with high standards. Watch for dairy
companies to continue to strengthen trust with
consumers who are becoming more concerned with animal welfare standards and how good animal husbandry can be a benefit—not a detriment—to the environment. Depth, personality and trust are becoming critical to dairy differentiation.
Organic brands build trust through reputable certifications for strict animal welfare and grass-fed standards like Maple Hill Creamery (booth 1213) does. Trust can come to life with the farmer story as well, like it does with the journey of the farmer-owned and led Organic Valley (booth 1329).
Earth-friendly supplements. While food and beverage companies are critical to the regenerative movement—and have been among the brands most active in solutions-oriented cultivation—companies across product categories, including supplements and beauty, are now a much more significant part of the conversation about how their supply chains can support earth-friendly cultivation methods.
And whole food supplement brand MegaFood (booth 3107) recently developed the Healthy Farm Standard, a sourcing guide to implement standards and strengthen relationships with its suppliers on building soil health, conserving resources and supporting the livelihood of workers and farmers.
Small changes, big impact. When it comes to some
of the world’s largest CPGs, even small changes can
lay the groundwork for positive long-term impact. That’s what we’re seeing from companies such as Unilever and Mondelez, which face both great opportunities and significant challenges because of their size.
Mondelez (booth 1605) sources through its Cocoa Life program to foster USDA Good Agricultural Practices, conservation and community empowerment.
a life of vitality
The pressure of modern life means we are feeling bogged down and our full selves are suppressed as we grapple with life’s demands. Consumers seek diets to help stave off and prevent disease, treat conditions and optimize how they feel today.
We’re all one. The ECS is a bona fide bodily system right up there with the digestive, cardiovascular and reproductive systems. Its role is akin to a symphony conductor that keeps all the body’s systems operating in harmony, or homeostasis. That’s why supporting it seems to help people who are just a little off in areas like sleep, stress, anxiety, even pain. Hemp CBD might be the ultimate chill pill.
HempFusion (booth 3446) is a hemp CBD pioneer that blends hemp with complementary herbs to address a handful of consumer concerns including stress, relaxation and daily balance.
Keto comes. Diet fads come and go like the
seasons, and shoppers are always looking for the
next new thing—primarily for weight management but also for health concerns such as heart health and diabetes—and nowadays, just to feel more optimized. We see this in the vegan, gluten-free and ketogenic diets.
Dr. Mercola (booth 3211) is fully on board with this trend, starting with the good doctor’s book KetoFast. Beyond that, the brand has KetoFast Detox Essentials, keto bars and MCT oils, even enzymes targeting the keto lifestyle.
Which brain? The microbiome is practically old
news by now, but what’s new is the realization
that it’s not just about gut health and its influence on immunity. Emerging evidence shows gut microbiota can command central nervous system functions and suggests that probiotics may benefit the likes of anxiety, anger and depression.
Garden of Life (booth 3235) of course has a full range of probiotic products, but its Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood Daily Care contains two strains in particular that have been shown in human clinical studies to benefit mood and psychological distress.
Big brains. The Big C of cancer—the most-feared
health concern for generations—has been usurped
by the New Big C—cognitive decline. As we live longer, cognitive concerns are coming to the fore, from dementia to day-to-day memory issues.
More than that, cognitive concerns are rising in everyone from athletes to information workers (which pretty much includes all of us anymore).
Himalaya Herbal Healthcare (booth 3127) is emblematic of addressing the new nootropic hack trend. Its MindCare—for mental sharpness and focus, supporting memory and cognitive wellness—uses only herbs mostly native to the Indian subcontinent.
The rise of prebiotics. The friendly bacteria that are probiotics need a little nourishment as they carry on
their work. Enter prebiotics—think of these fibers as the lunchbox for the probiotics. They help create an optimal environment for probiotics.
Barlean’s (booth 3035) has old-timey packaging breathed into new SKUs including one for intestinal repair designed to promote probiotics and help repair and support the intestinal lining. Leaky gut is finally getting the recognition it deserves as an underlying cause of a range of downstream disease states.
Screen scream. Phones and laptops are essential hardware for modern lives, but the blue light emanating from them is responsible for fatigued, strained eyes—and worse. It also harms the macula—a filter in the back of the eyeball that protects the eyes from going blind. Recent research shows macular carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin can help.
Quantum Health (booth 3749) uses these macular carotenoids in its Macula 30+ line, and it uses doses
at the highest level studies have shown to support eye health and comfort.
Twenty-first century living has ushered in new afflictions and consumers are learning how to cope with, prevent or cure modern ailments by reading the latest science-backed research or testing alternative products that will do the job.
New Hope Network has 40 years’ experience identifying leading-edge trends and innovations, contextualizing them and assessing their significance empirically. A trend is more than an object or a thing but rather a response to an emotion. The more we understand the why of a trend, the deeper the connection can be made with the consumer and the role we can play to address top-of-mind concerns expressed by society.
Laddering trends to the cultural demand
Trends may seem disparate, granular and fleeting, but not when you can see the why behind the fad. Trends ladder up and respond to macro shifts or forces shaping the industry.
Macro forces are more recognizable and constant shifts that unify trends under a common theme. Macro forces are a culmination of important social themes that trends are responding to or solving for.
Macro forces ladder up to large global cultural forces, the emotional discussions happening in culture and society.
Education & Events
September 11-14, 2019
September 12-14, 2019 | Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, MD, USA