Hottest Trends in Natural Products

Vegan and plant-based foods were a trend at the 2019 Natural Products EXPO

Vegan and plant-based foods were a trend at the 2019 Natural Products EXPO

Recently I was lucky to attend the Natural Products EXPO West, the largest gathering of wholesome brands in the world! Seriously, over 3,500 companies attend EXPO, making it a great place to discover new trends.

While most of the biggest names in natural foods attend the EXPO (Hain Celestial, Stoneyfield, Nutiva, Navitas, Clif Bar), I always find the emerging products areas the most interesting.

Without further ado, here are the trends that stood out in 2019. Watch to see if these rise to the forefront in the next 18 months.

  1. VEGAN and PLANT BASED: The list of plant based foods and beverages was long this year, signaling a move away from animal products. Ostensibly, this is due to the health, environmental, and ethical issues with animal products, which are becoming more well know with rise of movies such as “What the Health”, “Forks Over Knives”, and “Vegucated”. While going totally vegan may seem extreme, all of these new products certainly make it easier to move significantly in that direction.

    1. Alternative Milks: Plant-based milks are having their day. While alternative milks have been showing up at EXPO for a few years, it certainly feels like they have arrived! The hands down best sample I tried at EXPO was a cashew milk latte from Elmhurst’s cute cafe trailer. They were also showcasing: almond milk, oat milk, hemp milk, walnut milk, hazelnut milk, and even peanut milk. Lots of brands including Califia and Daiya showed us how easy it is to go dairy free. A favorite was LeGrand, making its debut in the U.S. from Canada, with delicious coconut yogurts and cheeses.

    2. Non-meat Meats: The vegan burger is not just for hippies anymore. Brands like Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat are showing even the most die-hard meat lover that there is life beyond meat. That being said, the brands and booths that were serving real meat had pretty long lines! Bottom line, it is GREAT to have alternatives, but many folks are not ready to completely cut out meat.

  2. CBD and HEMP: As we like to say at Plant Society, ‘CBD is the new Kale’. And now that is it federally legal via the 2018 Farm Bill, was it everywhere at EXPO. Starting with a full day Hemp Summit on Tuesday, followed by lots of hemp/CBD only brands exhibiting for the first time, plus big brands launching new CBD products. This just sets us up for lots of confusion in the marketplace about what works, how consistent products are, and what brands to trust. It is truly the wild west until the FDA begins to regulate the market more consistently. Our mission at Plant Society is to take the guesswork out of it by testing and recommending products that we feel 100% safe having you try. Note, the CBD industry is projected to grow to $22 Billion by 2022, and there are already 1,400 products in the market. Wow.

  3. GRAIN FREE: Since I went grain free with great success about 18 months ago, I was very tuned in to all of the grain free alternatives. Fortunately, paleo diets are also grain free, so the options are proliferating! There has been so much development in this area, and now brands like Siete and Purely Elizabeth are making it so easy to not miss grains with delicious chips, bars, granolas, and even breads that are grain free.

  4. PALEO: You’ve heard the hype, but this trend is not just for cavemen. Paleo eating ties pretty closely to the Whole 30 diet, which has been a life-changer for me, taking away lifelong stomach aches (I think it was the grains). Paleo diets promote high fat, low carbs

  5. REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE: Organic is so expected at this point. The next level is “regenerative”. Meaning that the farming practices used increase biodiversity, enrich soils, improve watersheds, and enhance ecosystem services. Some brands are starting to communicate their practices and savvy consumers are looking for the ROC (Regenerative Organic Alliance) seal before buying.

  6. KETO: And no food conference would be complete without a whole roster of KETO focused brands. KETO is a way of eating that is designed to raise ketones in the body, allowing the body to burn fat instead of carbs, and lowering overall blood sugar and insulin levels. The diet is primarily high fat and low carb, similar to the Atkins diet.

That’s the wrap of the trends that caught my eye this year. Of course there was so much more, but these are the highlights!




Written by:

Shari Boyer

Founder, Plant Society

Purely Elizabeth make delicious grain-free granola and bars