Expo West 2017: Trends & Highlights
Join us for a look inside the emerging trends and highlights from Expo West 2017, through the lens of your Pineapple Collective founders. We spent 5 days in Anaheim, alongside over 70,000 of our industry peers scouting the trade show floor, bursting with over 3000 brands and vendors, all the while hunting for insights, flavour trends, interesting experiential elements, and innovative concepts.
While it wasn’t our first Expo, it was the first time we were invited to speak, making sure this was an unforgettable year. We spoke at the Natural Products Business School, hosted by New Hope Media the day prior to the main show. We spoke alongside the founders, partners, and CEO’s of brands like Chapul, Rebbl and VMG, hosting one of our signature sessions called “On a Mission: Telling a Brand Story that Resonates”.
BTW – if you’re in Vancouver, you can join our co-founder Emma as she hosts an extended version of this workshop at the next Entrepreneurs of Health and Fitness Event Mar 29th, 2017.
Among other highlights, we couldn’t help but gush over our #pineappleclient Navitas Organics’ re-brand (note the name change, formerly known as Navitas Naturals), their new Daily Superfood Boost products, and celebrations for the launch of their partnership with A Growing Culture, offering a holistic approach to supporting farmers in fixing a broken food system. Congrats team!
Now let’s get to it: Our much anticipated recap of Expo West 2017 trends….
Did we mention there’s over 3000 exhibitors? It’s impossible to see it all, so instead we offer ‘a Pineapple perspective’. The trends we identified caught our eye because of a good brand story, unique ingredients, or stand to make a noteworthy impact on our health and wellbeing – without being intimidating or overcomplicated. These trends are both emerging (aka you saw it here first), or an interesting extension of a trend that’s been gathering momentum for some time.
An established trend, taking on new forms and functionality, from functional beverages to gut-healthy snacking. Prebiotics and probiotics have taken hold on shelf, and in our tummies.
Portland based Farmhouse Culture debuted several new products at the show, including a mild and easy drinking probiotic beverage aimed to help open the kraut juice market to more mainstream shoppers and less adventurous palettes. Their Kraut Krisps won a ‘Best Functional Food’ award during the show, and we’re not surprised one bit(e). Made from actual sauerkraut, and enriched with probiotics – the dill flavor chip is especially worth trying. Building on the snacking craze, Jicama Chips offers a paleo friendly option, with an emphasis on prebiotic fiber content.
Drinking vinegars were in no shortage, and have taken a hold at shelf, as well as on the tradeshow floor. In a recent SoCal market tour, we validated just how prevalent this niche has become amongst the functional beverage set in natural health grocers.
Established brands like Suja, Blueprint Juices (not yet listed online) and Pressery explore coconut and apple cider vinegar combinations merged with fresh pressed juices. While up and comer, fledgling brands like Good Wolf explore water kefir. We were delighted by the refreshing taste that will no doubt capture a health curious, as well as health conscious consumer.
As the functional beverage set becomes an exceedingly crowded category, we feel it will be very important for brands to win at-shelf. Suja makes a deliberate effort to help decision making be extremely easy for their target consumer, by listing all ingredients, sugar and calorie content front-of-pack.
Imagine the day when your dentist recommends oil pulling? A once sleepy or forgotten category, there is new innovation sparking excitement in our daily routine. The Dirt Founder Shannon Drake sees a once mundane activity – like brushing your teeth – being transformed into an act of self-love and self-care.
Recognizing that the health of our mouth is an integral part of our overall immune health, and not to mention self confidence, they’ve created everything from oil pulling mouthwash infused with herbs, and toothpaste made from MCT oil and bentonite clay.
Another notable contender in the oral health space is Frau Fowler – Tough Love Organics and their mineral based toothpaste powders, which we saw catch many attendees and judges attention during the Natural Products Business School’s pitch slam competition.
You saw it here first! Remember in our 2017 Health and Wellness Trend Guide? We identified pouch based fuel as a trend to watch for in 2017, and it’s already taking on new shapes and forms as the market shows it’s readiness for this new format of consumption.
One of our favourite finds from last year, Fourth & Heart, this year debuted a “Ghee to-go” product in their memorable and crave worthy artisanal flavours.
A staple in our hotel room (nut butter + avocado + rice cakes = happy Pineapples) was Yum Butter, who showcased their mini-sized (re-sealable!) squeeze packs. We also adore how they’ve woven in a mission based component to their biz, though a “Buy One Feed One” initiative, as well as being B-Corp Certified.
Buzz Bloom aligns with non-profit organization Planet Bee Foundation, to engage the consumer in a dialogue about the importance of bee’s – their mainstay supplier – for their variety of organic, non-gmo and raw honey offerings. This includes their single serve packs which may gain traction amongst runners and outdoor enthusiasts (replacing highly processed endurance gels), as much as it will appeal to travellers and the on-the-go crowd.
Despite the overwhelming rise in paleo products, we spotted several examples of innovation in a once meat dominated category. Myrtle Greens uses seasoned textured soy to create a chewy texture we’re all familiar with, while Cocoburg embraces coconut as their hero ingredient, and earns bonus points for also being paleo friendly. We identify with their mission to “just eat real food”.
This macro-trend influences product development and innovation in exciting new ways that not only stands to benefit our health, but the health of our planet too. Sustainability messaging can be woven into everything from the farm-to-table story, to how-its-made.
Reducing food waste is an opportunity to not only innovate within the supply chain, but to engage the consumer in a new dialogue about how food is made. An early favorite of ours at the show was ReGrained bars made with the previously discarded oats remaining from beer production. We found them in the ‘Hot Products’ exhibit, and with flavours like Coffee Chocolate Stout, and Honey Cinnamon IPA, we have no doubt their buzz will continue off the show floor.
Sir Kensington’s condiments have recently launched an applaudable mayo (yep – we’re celebrating mayo), but for good reason. Delicately positioned as “up-cycled”, their mayo is made with aquafaba, aka chickpea cooking water.
Biodynamic brands continue to emerge and gain visibility and we couldn’t be more delighted. After a conversation with Elizabeth Candelario, the Managing Director of Demeter USA (biodynamic certifying body) we had the pleasure of sampling everything from biodynamic cold brew coffee from Deep Valley, to herbal supplements and tinctures from makers like Oregon’s Wild Harvest. Biodynamic production seeks to regenerate the soil rather than deplete it through agriculture. #winning
It makes perfect sense for manufacturers that emphasize sustainable ingredients to take the message one step further and align with environmental causes, in order to be even greater champions for the planet. Chapul, makers of the original cricket protein bar not only emphasize alternative protein sources as a means to reduce the demands on land and resources used for food production, but they also contribute a part of their annual sales to 1% for the Planet.
As you can tell, we had an amazing time at Expo West this year, our taste buds got as much of a workout as our feet – roaming the aisles and halls of the Anaheim Convention Centre. We already can’t wait for next year.
A huge thanks to New Hope Media for not only a phenomenal show, but for the invite to speak at this year’s event.
And because ‘sharing is caring’, if you noted any other emerging or established trends you felt stood out, we invite you to leave a comment below, we would love to hear your perspective!
Stay tuned in April for our recap of the upcoming Canadian Health Food Association trade show in Vancouver, and as always follow along on social (@thinkpineapples), or sign up for our newsletter, for ongoing trend hunting adventures and marketing insights.