Expo West 2022 was full to the brim with new products and the atmosphere was electric. After three years, it felt good to be back in person, see everyone, try new foods, and taste old favorites. We discovered many innovative, forward-thinking brands, attended great events, and got to network with the natural and organic community.
The driving trends that stood out for us were planet and people forward movements, mood-boosting and calming products, responsible and regenerative farming practices, use of heirloom and upcycled produce, plant-based nutrition, and brands led by diverse leadership. There was a solution for everyone from kids through to food service professionals. And so after walking the showroom floors in Anaheim, we are excited to share our high level takes aways and favorite finds from this year’s show.
Our fav snacking products
Nearly all Americans (94 percent) snacking at least once a day, according to Mintel, so we were on the look out for new products that can breakthrough existing habits and influence consumer snacking behaviors.
- Belgian Boys – this brand stood out for its fun, feel-good European vibe and such a delicious French Toast. Targeting indulgent treat moments, rather than a consumer group, and creating a holistic approach to the brand experience created breakthrough on the floor.
- Lesser Evil Pea Nots – the increase in plant-based products goes hand-in-hand with more nuts as a key ingredient so we appreciated these protein nuggets made for people who are not good with nuts but still want to access the trend – thanks for this one!
- Pescavore – this was seafood on-the-go offering a healthy and sustainable reward to the conscious consumer. Their responsibly-caught ahi tuna jerky strips are low in sugar and salt and ambiently distributed. They tasted great!
- Rollin’ n Bowlin’ – their new almond butter-filled dates were just simple and delicious. A great compliment to their smoothie blends and builds well on their core proposition of simplified, healthy snacking.
Our fav brand expansions
After launching an initial product and achieving success expanding a brands portfolio is an important step to growth. Understanding where the white space is for your next new product involves leveraging the brands strategy and understanding the context the brand operates within. These smart line extensions caught our eye;
- Numi Tea – the recent launches from this brand seem to effortlessly complement their core range. From their ‘Stay Healthy Line’ that uses efficacious plants and potent blends, to their wellness shots and drinking chocolate these products come at a time when consumers are increasingly seeking out physical and emotional wellbeing.
- gimMe Snacks – their new portable slim packs open up more opportunities like lunchbox fillers. Although it may replace some of their core sales it will most likely open up new occasions for the brand.
- Dream Pops – have gone beyond frozen snacking with their 100% plant-based popsicles into the candy aisle with shelf-stable candies and syrup toppings proving that they can be more than just ice-cream, positioning themselves as a confectionary company.
- Tattooed Chef – have launched new snacks including plant-based refrigerated bars and chips, another great expansion that now sees this brand in 10 categories across 140 products.
Our fav planet and people forward products
Consumers’ concerns include the health of the planet and fair treatment of workers, in addition to their own health and wellness. At Expo West’s 2022 Climate Day events, we heard from speakers across the supply chain on how they are creating the conditions for living beings and natural systems to flourish and regenerate. Here are some brands that are making great strides in creating positive change;
- Neutral Milk – although not an exhibitor this year the team was at the event and represent the first carbon-neutral food company in the US. Their range of organic dairy products is Certified Carbon Neutral by the leading 3rd partner verification agency, SCS Global Services.
- Ziba – we loved their sun-dried figs grown in remote regions of Afghanistan. Their farmer-direct advance pay and their empowerment of women is helping to re-establish the country as a fine producer of dried fruit and nuts
- Do Good Dog – a hot dog made with beef raised on verified regenerative grasslands from the SunFed Ranch
Our fav plant-based products
Plant based has become the health halo for a multitude of categories and is no longer limited to animal alternative categories like meat and dairy. We saw plant-based pastas, crackers, granolas, supplements, and packaging. Here are some of our favorites.
- Hooray Foods – their plant-based bacon tasted like the real thing adding to the pleasure of the plant-based breakfast occasion
- Miyoko’s Creamery – apart from the out-of-this world cottage cheese we also loved the problem the new liquid vegan pizza mozzarella solves for foodservice professionals – shredded vegan cheese is notoriously difficult to melt, bubble, and brown until now
- Vana Life Foods – we tried their plant-based Coconut Lime Superfood bowl which was delicious and contains green chickpea that is high in protein and nutrition. This ready meal tasted like it was fresh out of the kitchen.
Our favs for those with dietary limitations
After attending the event held by Childhood Nutrition we discovered 1 in 5 kids today have a chronic medical condition, with allergies being top of the list. 40 years ago this figure was 1 in 40. We found these products that are allergy and family friendly whilst being full of nutrition;
- ChildLife Essentials – Your Super Child Cookies are school allergy-friendly and we also liked their non gummy gummies which are naturally sweetened and are free from sugar
- Do Anything – their range of nut-free pesto’s are so versatile and radiant helping you get veggie packed meals on the table in a snap
- All Clean Food – their range of organic pasta dinners, made with organic quinoa and organic rice reassuringly, have an allergy-friendly promise.
Leave a comment below and tell us what you discovered at Expo West 2022. We’d also be interested in whether you agree or disagree with our top picks and why. We’d love to hear your thoughts.