The 35th annual Natural Products Expo West, held March 4-8 in Anaheim, hosted over 71,000 industry members, more than 2,700 exhibiting companies and 634 first-time exhibitors. In addition to the traditional exhibit halls at the Anaheim Convention Center, new exhibitors showcased new products at the Hilton Hotel Anaheim. The largest Expo West ever reflects the NEXT Forecast that estimates the natural and organic products industry will grow to $252 billion by 2019.
The official Natural Products Expo West "Best of West: Press Award" went to Justin's Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Runner ups were Noosa Yoghurt's Vanilla Yoghurt and Brandstorm’s Dark Chocolate Covered Chia Seeds. The winner of the NEXT Accelerator Natural Products Business School Pitch Slam was Loliware.
The aisles were packed with visitors searching out the new and novel as well as the tried and true.
Raise a Glass
Water that is more than H2O is gaining traction. Not the typical bottled waters that have been around for years, these are waters derived from plant sources.
Vertical Water is 100 percent maple water. That’s the liquid direct from the trees, not water mixed with maple syrup. The trees filter, sweeten slightly and fortify the water with nutrients. Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten free and vegan. The mission-based company was founded to help conserve U.S. forestland. A 16.9-ounce bottle has an SRP of $2.99.
Arty Artichoke Water is a superfood beverage derived from California artichokes, which are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and electrolytes. Vegan, non-GMO and low-glycemic, Arty contains no preservatives or artificial ingredients. The company uses locally sourced artichokes and supports farmers that promote conservation. Available in 8-ounce bottles with an SRP of $2.89-$3.25. Also available in 4-, 12 and 24-packs.
CaliWater is derived from the prickly pear cactus, which contain 24 of the known betalains, potent antioxidants associated with skin revitalization. The refreshing water has a mellow berry taste that resembles a watermelon mixed with kiwi. The 11.2-ounce bottle has an SRP of $2.99 and the 1-liter bottle an SRP of $5.99.
Belvoir Farms Elderflower and Rose Lemonade Presse is a perfect summer thirst quencher. It combines the floral headiness of rose petals with delicacy of elderflowers. Available in 8.4- and 25.4-ounce bottles.
Total Happiness Naturals brings the healthful fruits and botanicals of Southeast Asia to the United States. Gac Fruit, known as the "fruit from heaven," provides nutrients, including antioxidants, lycopene and betacarotene. Centella, the "fountain of youth," cools down the body’s inner heat. Available in Wild Passion, Blackberry, Persimmon, Mango and Mint & Lemon. 12-ounce bottles.
Not quite a beverage, not quite an ingredient, Fire Cider is heady mix of certified organic apple cider vinegar, whole raw, certified organic oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, habanero pepper, garlic and turmeric and raw wildflower honey. Offering layers of sweet, tart and spice, it tastes great when sipped on its own and can also be added for tea, juice or salad. 8-ounce bottles, SRP: $12; 16-ounce bottles, SRP: $22.
The “Snackification” of America
At the Expo West seminar “State and Future of the Natural Products Industry,” Carlotta Mast, executive director of Contents & Insights, New Hope Media, and Jenna Blumenfeld, senior food editor, New Hope Media, singled out snackification as a macro force shaping the industry. Americans have been turning to snacks – sometimes to replace meals, sometimes in addition to meals – for quite some time. They have long been happy with fast and easy, but now they also want nutritious.
Rhythm Superfoods Rhythm Superfoods Broccoli Bites are made from dehydrated fresh broccoli and available in Zesty Nacho, Asian Citrus and Garden Ranch. Gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan, the provide seven grams protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving. 1.5-ounce bags. SRP: $3.99.
Ten Acre is a British company just entering the U.S. with its crisps, aka potato chips. The hand cooked chips are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, halal and kosher. They come in a variety of flavors, each with its own back story available on the company website, which creates a bucolic English village called Ten Acres. 40-gram bags have an SRP of $1.09 to $1.49.
CherryMan Farm to Market Maraschino Cherries are the sweet little delights from childhood – only these have no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. They’re Non-GMO Project Verifies, gluten-free, fat-free, vegan and kosher. Available stemless in 2-ounce jars, with or without stems in 10-ounce jars.
Biena Foods has added habanero to its Roasted Chickpea Snacks flavor line-up. All flavors of the crisp and crunchy snacks are free of the top 10 food allergens. 2-ounce bag, SRP: $2.99; 5-ounce bag, SRP: $3.99.
Sea Snax roasted seaweed snacks have always been gluten-free but now they are certified gluten-free. They are also Non-GMO Project certified. The company has added Lime, Barbecue and Jalapeño flavors to its Sea Snax Sheets line.
Organic Toasted Coconut Chips from Made in Nature hit two “sweet spots” – snacking and all things coconut. Available in five flavors: Vietnamese Cinnamon Swirl, Italian Espresso, Maple Madagascar Vanilla, Mexican Spiced Cacao. Ginger Masala Chai. 3-ounce bags, SRP: $3.99. Maple Madagascar Vanilla also available in 12-ounce bag, SRP: $13.75.
How Sweet It Is
Alternative natural sweeteners were in abundance. Among our favorites:
Happy Honey from Rogue Creamery Farms – that’s right, the amazing cheesemakers now have their own honey. Bees visit the farms vetch, blackberry, sunflower and wildflower crops and turn the nectar into a delicious honey worthy of accompanying Rogue’s award-winning blue cheeses. 4-ounce jar, SRP: $6.
Kandy Mountain Wild Palm Syrup comes from the flowers of wild palms grown in Sri Lanka. The tips of the flowers are cut and they then secrete a liquid similar in consistency to coconut water. The flowers are left on the trees and the pots used to gather the liquid are emptied twice a day. The water is then boiled down to create a sweet, delicious syrup that is shipped to the U.S. and bottled in Eugene, Ore. The Sri Lankans have been making wild palm syrup in this manner for 2,000 years. 8-ounce bottle, SRP $9.99.
Lori’s Salt Caramel Syrup is made with just four ingredients: caramelized can sugar, Tahitian vanilla, GMO-free Boyajian maple and French Celtic sea salt. Great on pancakes and waffles, in baking and as a beverage sweetener. 8-ounce bottle, SRP: $15.