Last month, we were fortunate enough to attend the Natural Products Expo East Show, where we got to make our way down aisles and aisles of improved and innovative natural products, while also sniffing out new trends.

Our first stop, was at Hudson Valley Marshmallow Co., and if you haven’t heard of this company, you haven’t lived. Seriously, these are some extraordinary marshmallows, and they’re all-natural. They have fantastic flavors too, including Chocolate, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Strawberry, AND French Toast (which is exceptional, especially when you let it caramelize). They even have seasonal flavors, like Pumpkin Spice and Gingerbread!

Moving on, we stopped by the Hot Products Pavilion, where we saw banana jerky, portabella jerky, all types of CBD and hemp-infused products, vegan wine, and a brand of 100% traceable chocolate (French Broad Chocolate). The Banana Jerky was very unique in my opinion—this is a completely different experience than your average dried fruit or banana chips. The flavor is tangy with a sweet finish and a very genuine jerky texture, just without the meat! The same rings true for the Portabella Jerky. You get that chewy texture and a traditional teriyaki flavor experience like that of other jerkies, just with different ingredients. Both meatless jerky options would be an easy snack and excellent option for those looking to eat less meat.

Moving beyond just the fun products that caught our eye, these shows also give attendees an insight into the current food trends, some of them being:

  • CBD is flooding the market. So much so, that there was even an entire pavilion at the show dedicated to just to Hemp & CBD. From full-spectrum oils to infused gummies, bars, caramel candies like those from Restorative Botanicals, and more, there are many companies starting to ramp up in this space.
  • Company Responsibility – With product differentiation often being difficult to deliver, being on a mission can be an effective way to do good for the world while doing good business.  Whether it’s being sustainable, responsible, or traceable, a company’s roots and back story matter more than ever these days. Farmer Focus, for example, is founded on meaningful farmer partnerships that focuses on sustainable methods, safer work environments, and more. All this makes for happier farmers, healthier birds, and a better product for their brand. When your product point of difference delivers less impact on the environment, it’s a win-win!
  • Minimally Processed – In a world of plant-based meats, where Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger are grabbing all the headlines, we are seeing a backlash. How food products are made matters to consumers, and alternatives to the big plant-based meat brands are boasting about being less processed and heathier than the big guys. NoBull Burger delivers exactly what their name entails⁠—minimally processed vegan veggie burgers—with no bull about it. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, speaking out against overly processed big-alt burger companies, expect big things from little brands on a mission in this space.
  • Protein – Our obsession with protein is both broad, as in everywhere, and narrow with keto, paleo, grain-free, organic, and more.  All of these niche diets go hand-in-hand with the message of “a good source of protein.” Whether you’re following a specific diet or not, you’ll notice a lot of the new packaging has prioritized the message of protein on the front of the product. Lenny & Larry’s takes your ordinary chocolate crème cookies and gives it a plant-based protein-punch so you can get your sweet fix and your protein together in one.

At every show we see trends and products continue to evolve.  What new trends will emerge in 2020? We will find out at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco!