Natural Products Expo West is a huge expo showcasing thousands of natural food and other natural products. Each year more than 80,000 people gather in Anaheim, CA to scope out the latest and greatest and this was my first year joining them. Below I outlined some hot products including what stood out to me and what seems to be trending in the food world.
Note: A couple (2) of the brands mentioned below are or have been clients. All opinions are my own.
top 10 food Trends from expo west 2019
Hard Boiled Eggs To Go
I’m glad to see the number of healthy, prepared meals now available. Multiple booths at the expo shared prepared and packaged hard boiled eggs. Eggs are a great source of protein, choline, and other nutrients. These prepared eggs would be perfect for those who are learning how to cook (or learning to make time to cook). I also love this idea for an easy gas station or grocery store snack when on the go or traveling.
2. Puff Snacks
Every company seems to be hopping on the puffed snack train. Think Pirate’s Booty style. Biena Snacks, known for their crunchy chickpeas, now makes Baked Chickpea Puffs with 7 grams of protein per serving! The natural plant based protein from the chickpeas makes it a more filling, substantial snack.
3. Baby Food with Whole Food Ingredients
Babies will be eating well in 2019. There are now more and more companies offering baby foods with just simple ingredients. Fresh Bellies makes baby foods with pure fruits and veggies and seasoned with herbs and spices. They are preservative free. I love what they are doing for child nutrition! Serenity Kids makes savory protein foods in easy to-go pouches including salmon, bison, and even uncured bacon?!
4. Plant Based and Dairy-Free Foods
Plant based is still trending and for good reason, there are both health and environmental benefits to eating more plants. There were many brands at Expo West showcasing non-dairy cheeses, dips, spreads, ice cream and plant based burgers. A few that stood out to me were Miyoko’s, Daiya, and Kite Hill. Daiya’s shredded cheeses melt perfectly just like the real thing and their ice creams are amazing! Kite Hill makes amazing plant based cream cheese. And I love the Miyoko’s vegan butter and cheese wheels! The vegan butter spreads easily and browns just like regular butter and the flavor and texture of all their cheeses and dips were impressive.
5. Oat Milk
Oat milk is big, like huge, this year. I went into the conference expecting to see some of this and hoping to learn more about why it is so trendy. MANY companies now sell an oat milk, both big and smaller name brands. Big name coffee companies, like Chameleon Cold Brew and LaColombe also now have varieties made with oat milk.
So why is Oat Milk so hot right now? They say it’s because of the creamier consistency. I find the consistency similar to a traditional soy milk, not necessarily creamy, but thicker in consistency than a watery almond milk. One company told me that the nutrition benefits of the oats does not transfer into the milk. Other companies claim it does.
6. Flax Seed
Speaking of creamy milks, Manitoba Milling Flaxseed Company shared their new chocolate and unsweetened versions of their flax milk at the expo this year (coming soon!). Both flavors are delicious! Manitoba Milling’s Flax Milk is creamier than both soy and oat milk and more nutritious. Because they use the whole flaxseed (in both their flaxseed and flax milk) there are more omega-3s than other brands.
There was also a company at the expo, Flax4Life who makes baked goods with flaxseed. Ground Flax Seed is the first ingredient in most of their products and all products are certified gluten free and they taste great.
Flaxseed is a great way to boost fiber and omega-3s and works well in any meal. I was glad to see that it’s gaining in popularity!
7. Sprouted Grains
Sprouted grains are fascinating to me. Sprouted grains are whole grain seeds that have started to sprout into a plant but aren’t a full grown plant just yet. This increases the bioavailability of some nutrients and there is actually research behind this to support it. Sprouting grains also helps to break down some of the starch so they may be easier for some people to digest. The expo had many brands there featuring sprouted grains and beans - from sprouted mung beans (Crunchsters) to sprouted breads and bagels (Silver Hills, Food for Life, and Alvarado St. Bakery)
8. Allergen Friendly
Allergen friendly foods still seems to be popular. This is extremely important because there are millions of people with diagnosed food allergies. Many live in fear of accidentally consuming something they are allergic to. There were many products that are free from top 8 allergens, like Enjoy Life. Lo-Fo Pantry makes low-fodmap flours and there were other brands with gluten free pancake mixes, breads, and more.
Gut health is still big and we are seeing probiotics in more and more products. There was plenty of kombucha and even dried fruit and chips with probiotics! The Farmhouse Culture Dill Pickle Probiotic Chips are amazing!
10. Frozen Meals
Food manufacturers have realized the need for making healthy eating easy. Historically, many frozen prepared meals were very high in sodium (most still are).
I was very impressed with Beetnik Foods. They are made with organic, whole food ingredients, and most (if not all) have less than 300mg of sodium per serving. Most other frozen meals have upwards of 700mg! I tried the Beetnik chicken meatballs and was very impressed.
I also enjoyed, Saffron Road meals for their exceptional taste, whole food ingredients, low sugar, and lower sodium content.
highlights of expo west 2019
These granola bites have been my go-to snack lately. They’re made with whole food ingredients, are low in sugar (just 4-5 grams), and provide a decent about of filling fiber and protein. (The almond coconut is the best!) Keep an eye out for some new flavors and products that will hopefully be on shelves soon!
A journalist recently reached out to ask what I thought of WholeMe Clusters, see what I had to say in this Today Show article.
I love this company and I eat their muesli for breakfast almost daily. I eat it both hot and cold any time of year. There is no added sugar and is just so good. At the expo I paired a sample with the Three Trees Pistachio Milk and it was amazing!
We don’t have Whole Foods in Montana, so while out in California, I quickly became a regular. Each day I had MUSH for breakfast at Whole Foods. MUSH makes ready to eat overnight oats in to-go containers. They are seriously delicious. They use just real food ingredients and have a whopping 8 grams of filling fiber! They also happen to be gluten and dairy free.
(I’d love to see them try this with Manitoba Milling Flax Milk instead of almond milk!)
This was cool. I’ve made my own chia jam before but have never seen a packaged version. I believe I tried an unsweetened version but they also slightly sweeten some varieties with agave.
I’ll admit I went back for seconds of this one. I eat cow’s milk Greek yogurt daily but I know it is hard to find a good tasting dairy-free yogurt for those who don’t eat dairy. While lower in protein than cow’s milk yogurt, the Coconut Collaborative’s Coconut Yogurt has no added sugar, contains probiotics, and tastes absolutely delicious!
I never thought I was a cottage cheese person until I tried Good Culture cottage cheese cups. They are the perfect consistency and texture and taste great. Each cup has 14-19 grams of protein and some are lightly sweetened with no more than 10g of sugar per cup (some of that being natural lactose from the grass-fed dairy and fructose from the fruit filling).