At Natural Products Expo West 2023, the energy was back in the air following several years of subdued celebrations during the pandemic. "It was back to the enthusiasm and excitement of 2019," says the CEO of leading better-for-you snack manufacturer, YouBar, Anthony Flynn. "And the trends are more diverse than ever before!”
Here are our picks for the top five hottest trends we spotted at Expo 2023:
The plant-based food trend continues to grow as people become increasingly conscious of the impact of their food choices on the environment, animal welfare, and their health. While lab-grown 'fake meats,' like Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, have completely lost their sheen (along with losing hundreds of millions of dollars, laying off hundreds of employees, and crashing their share prices), real plant-based foods are–pardon the totally in-apt pun–killing it. Keto and paleo diets have also played a role in this plant-based movement, by bringing exposure and popularity to ingredients like avocado oil and almond flour.
Some specific brands in this category include:
- Actual Veggies: These burgers are the antidote to the fake-meat craze because they look like burger patties, but they're actually just made up of real shredded vegetables and bean flours, like beets, carrots, and cannellini flour—nothing from a lab in sight.
- Good Karma Foods: These plant-based milk options feature hyper-clean ingredient lists of water and crushed nuts, grains, and seeds, like flax seeds and oats.
- Miyoko's Creamery: This brand offers a range of plant-based dairy alternatives, including butter, cheese, and yogurt, made from nuts and other plant-based ingredients.
As consumers become more aware of the impact of food production on the environment, they are seeking out brands that prioritize sustainability. Sustainability call-outs seemed to be almost everywhere at Expo West, and the notable brands that are leading the way in this area include:
- Imperfect Foods and Uglies Kettle Chips: These companies are dedicated to reducing food waste by sourcing and selling "imperfect" produce that would otherwise go to waste, such as making potato chips out of 'ugly' potatoes.
- Numi Organic Tea: This brand is committed to organic and sustainable tea production, sourcing its ingredients from fair trade farms worldwide.
- Barnana: This company uses "upcycled" bananas to create snacks like banana bites and plantain chips and promotes its strong relationships with indigenous farmers around the world.
The mood-boosting trend focuses on seeking out foods that are not only tasty but also provide health benefits. From adaptogens known for their stress-relieving properties to nootropics that enhance cognitive function, functional superfood ingredients are gaining momentum, and these brands that are leveraging them in unique ways:
- GT's Kombucha: Kombucha is a fermented tea that is thought to have a range of health benefits, including improving digestion and boosting immunity. GT's Kombucha is one of the most popular kombucha brands in the United States.
- Siggi's: This brand offers Icelandic-style yogurt that is higher in protein and lower in sugar than most other yogurts on the market.
- Kuli Kuli: Their mood magic superfood blends feature nootropic ingredients like maca and l-theanine.
Global Cuisine with a "Modern" Health-Conscious Twist
As the United States becomes increasingly diverse, there is a growing demand for authentic and diverse ethnic cuisines. Some specific brands that are popular in this category include:
- Siete Family Foods: This brand offers a range of Mexican-inspired foods that promote their gluten and grain-free natural-ness, including grain-free tortilla chips, taco shells, and hot sauce.
- Mama O's Premium Kimchi: This brand offers authentic Korean kimchi, known to support a healthy microbiome, made in small batches using traditional techniques.
- Tasty Bite: This brand offers a range of Indian-inspired meals and snacks, including many dishes featuring Ayurvedic favorites, like turmeric.
As a derivative of the mood-boosting superfood trend, mushrooms, some of which are adaptogens, have taken center stage as versatile and beneficial ingredients in various health-focused products. These ingredients are known for their stress-relieving properties and ability to support overall well-being. Some brands at the forefront of using mushrooms as ingredients include:
- Four Sigmatic: This company produces "functional" mushroom-based products, including adaptogen-infused coffee, hot chocolate, and elixirs, that are said to have various health benefits, such as improved focus and reduced stress.
- Om Mushroom Superfood: This brand offers a range of mushroom-based powders and supplements, including adaptogenic blends designed to support energy, immunity, and relaxation.
- Moon Juice: This wellness brand incorporates mushrooms and adaptogens in its products, including superfood powders and supplement capsules, to enhance overall health and well-being.
As we've seen from Expo West 2023, the future of the food industry is rapidly evolving with an emphasis on sustainability, plant-based options, and innovative ingredients like adaptogens and mushrooms. At YouBar, we're passionate about staying ahead of these trends and partnering with brands to create groundbreaking products that cater to the ever-changing market.
If you're looking to develop new products that align with the trends showcased at Expo West 2023, our team at YouBar can help you source innovative ingredients and guide you through the entire product development process. From concept to creation, our experts can assist you in bringing your unique vision to life. Take advantage of the opportunity to be at the forefront of the food industry's latest trends. Contact us at YouBar today.