Natural Products Expo East: 5 Trends to Watch

Last-ever show offered plenty of food for thought
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Shroomeats Main Image
Shroomeats is a meat replacement made from mushrooms. (Image Credit: Bridget Goldschmidt)

Now that I’ve had some time to digest my experiences, as it were, at Natural Products Expo East, which took place Sept. 20-23 in Philadelphia – the last version of this show before its reinvention next year as Newtopia Now in Savannah, Ga., this coming August – I can identify some of the more interesting trends featured at the event – ones that forward-looking retailers should pay attention to:

More Mushrooms: Capped off (forgive the continuing puns) by a seminar led by famed mycologist Paul Stamets, who, among other points in a wide-ranging discussion, informed the natural product industry that it could lead the charge of a paradigm shift to widespread acceptance of psilocybin mushrooms, which, he noted, result in “nicer people,” Expo East featured plenty of products featuring versatile fungi – although not the magic varieties. In addition to plenty of supplements and wellness products, the show floor featured crunchy mushroom snacks such as Popadelics and Confetti Mushroom Chips, meat replacements like Shroomeats and Eat Meati, and even a mushroom-powered energy drink, Odyssey Revive, available in caffeinated and noncaffeinated versions, with the Prickly Pear flavor proving particularly tasty.

Elari Tiger Nut Root Milk Main Image
Elari Tigernut Root Milk was a Nexty Awards finalist.

Try Some Tigernuts: These striped edible tubers not nuts grown in the Eastern Hemisphere and containing plenty of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins C and E, look set to be the next trending food ingredient, with applications ranging from flour to granola to beverages. In the latter category, there’s calcium-fortified Elari Tigernut Root Milk, which comes in Original, Vanilla and Barista varieties and playfully bills itself online as being both nut- and tiger-free. Samples at the show were creamy and flavorful.

Bored Cow Main Image
Bored Cow is made using precision fermentation.

Animal-Free Dairy Is Here: How does this work, you ask? The answer is precision fermentation. Marketed to kids of all ages, Bored Cow, which describes itself as “a new kind of milk alternative,” is made with milk protein from fermentation – plant sugar converted into whey – instead of cows, with nutrient-rich plant fat, cane sugar, and calcium, vitamin D and vegan B12 added in. The result tastes just like milk from cows, only it’s completely plant-based and better for the planet, since it uses less land and water and fewer emissions to produce. No wonder the brand’s bovine mascots are looking for other things to do as they, like the rest of us, contemplate the future of dairy.

Good Planet Plant-Based Cheese Main Image
In just a few short years, food technology has advanced to the point where plant-based cheeses can compete with dairy cheeses in taste and texture.

Plant-Based Cheese Comes of Age: This one is a continuation of a trend noted at the recent Plant Based World show, held earlier this month in New York. In just a few short years, food technology has advanced to the point where even passionate cheese lovers like myself can occasionally partake of nondairy equivalents, safe in the knowledge that the taste and texture are on par with animal-based offerings. Among the standouts at Expo East were Good Planet’s olive oil cheeses, Rind’s tangy horseradish variety, and Nuts for Cheese’s sweet-and-salty Cranberry Peppercorn offering.

Krill Main Image
As U.S. consumers continue to seek alternative protein sources, krill – the collective term for small crustaceans that resemble shrimp – has emerged as a likely contender.

License to Krill: As U.S. consumerscontinue to seek alternative protein sources, krill – the collective term for small crustaceans that resemble shrimp – has emerged as a likely contender. Besides being a quality source of protein, Krill Arctic Foods’ keto- and Paleo-friendly, wild-caught, sustainably sourced product is low in calories and carbs; an excellent source of omega-3, -6 and -9; and gluten-free. The company also played up krill’s versatility, noting that it “can be used in salads, soups, burgers, ravioli, sushi, pizza and more!” Offered up simply on a cracker on the Expo East show floor, the item was delicately salty and fresh-tasting.

Whatever's next year's revamped show looks like, it's a certainty that plenty of trending products will be on display, giving retailers a glimpse of what their consumers will soon be clamoring for.

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