- On September 26, 2023
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In a world that’s increasingly conscious of health, sustainability, and the overall well-being of both people and the planet, the Natural Products Expo East 2023 held in Philadelphia was nothing short of a revelation. This trade show that brings together industry leaders, innovators, and enthusiasts, showcased a plethora of exciting trends that are shaping the future of natural products. Our Softengine team had such a fantastic experience walking the floor, meeting up with our customers and prospects, and most importantly learning about the hottest trends in the Natural Products Industry.
Let’s dive into the highlights of this event and the exciting trends that emerged.
The Beverage Boom
One of the standout trends at the Expo was the “beverage boom.” The demand for refreshing, healthy, and innovative drink options has skyrocketed, and the show had no shortage of offerings in this category. From revitalizing cold-pressed juices to functional herbal teas, the beverage aisle was a vibrant space where attendees could sample and savor the latest creations.
Good for People, Good for Health
Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning when it comes to the products they put into their bodies. Expo East 2023 was a testament to the growing emphasis on products that prioritize both health and flavor. Attendees were treated to a cornucopia of snacks, supplements, and ready-to-eat meals that not only tasted great but were also packed with nutrients and wholesome ingredients. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and plant-based options were in abundance, catering to a wide range of dietary preferences and restrictions.
Good for the Planet
Sustainability took center stage at the Expo, reflecting the industry’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint. Companies showcased products and practices designed to minimize waste, conserve resources, and promote eco-friendliness. From packaging innovations that reduce plastic use to sourcing methods that support regenerative agriculture, the Expo demonstrated a collective dedication to creating products that are not only good for consumers but also for the planet.
Supplements and Organic Products
Supplements have become an integral part of many people’s daily routines. Expo East showcased a wide range of supplements, from vitamins and minerals to herbal extracts and probiotics, all designed to support individual health goals. Additionally, organic products remained a cornerstone of the Expo, reaffirming the industry’s commitment to natural and sustainable farming practices.
Rural Communities and Healthy Food Access
Recognizing the dire impact of unhealthy diets, the Expo highlighted a renewed commitment within the industry to extend access to healthy food options, especially in rural communities. With alarming statistics revealing that one in five Americans succumbs to diet-related health issues, initiatives aimed at reaching underserved areas are essential. This movement seeks to combat health disparities by making nutritious products more accessible to populations often left with limited food choices.
Upcycled and Regenerative Foods
An exciting trend at the Expo was the emphasis on upcycled and regenerative foods. Companies are finding innovative ways to reduce food waste by repurposing surplus or discarded ingredients into delicious and nutritious offerings. Simultaneously, the spotlight on regenerative agriculture practices underscores the importance of farming that not only sustains but also revitalizes the soil and supports biodiversity, fostering a more sustainable food ecosystem.
Eating for Health and Beverage as Medicine
The concept of “eating for health” gained substantial traction at the Expo, reflecting a broader consumer awareness of the profound connection between diet and well-being. In this vein, beverages are no longer just thirst quenchers; they’re increasingly perceived as sources of medicinal benefits. Brands are incorporating functional ingredients that target specific health needs, solidifying the idea of beverages as a vehicle for holistic wellness.
Plant Based Milk
Plant-based milk alternatives continue their remarkable ascent, with 44% of households now incorporating these dairy alternatives into their diets. Emerging trends in this domain include innovative products made from bananas and avocados, offering unique flavors and nutrition profiles. This trend underscores the expansive potential for growth in the plant-based sector, as consumers continue to explore diverse and sustainable dietary choices.
A captivating innovation showcased at the Expo was cultivated meat, representing a revolutionary shift in the food industry. Lab-grown proteins offer a sustainable alternative to traditional animal agriculture, addressing environmental concerns and the growing demand for ethical and eco-conscious protein sources. This development marks a significant step toward reducing the ecological footprint of meat production.
Social Media Influence and Consumer Values
Social media’s role in shaping dietary choices became evident, with 50% of Americans turning to these platforms for diet-related information. Younger consumers, particularly Generation Z, are emerging as influential advocates for sustainability and waste reduction within the food industry. As consumers increasingly align their values with their purchasing decisions, brands are under pressure to adapt and meet these evolving demands.
Non-Alcoholic Beverages and Sobriety
The non-alcoholic beverage sector continued to thrive, with consumers embracing these products year-round rather than limiting them to holiday occasions. The rise of sobriety culture, driven by health-conscious consumers, led to the formation of organizations like the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association (ANBA). This trend was significant enough to warrant dedicated sections at the Expo, marking a pivotal shift in consumer beverage preferences and industry offerings.
Innovating with Purpose and Supply Chain Challenges
Innovating with a clear sense of purpose beyond profit was a prevalent theme throughout the Expo. Brands actively sought to address pressing global issues such as sustainability, waste reduction, and climate change through their product offerings and practices. However, supply chain issues and inflation were noted as challenges within the industry, highlighting the need for resilience and adaptability in navigating these turbulent times.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
DEI remained a strong focus within the industry, with brands making concerted efforts to promote diversity and inclusion both in their product lines and within their organizations. This commitment reflects a growing awareness of social responsibility and a desire to create a more equitable and inclusive industry.
Organics and Climate Change
Organics continued to see robust growth, and they even had their dedicated section at the Expo. Organic products align closely with efforts to combat climate change by promoting sustainable farming practices, highlighting the industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
In conclusion, the trends showcased at Natural Products Expo East 2023 paint a compelling picture of an industry at the forefront of positive change. From the explosive growth in the beverage sector, emphasizing wellness and functionality, to the commitment to extend healthy food options to underserved rural communities, these trends underscore a collective dedication to improving the well-being of both individuals and the planet. Innovations in upcycled and regenerative foods, the plant-based movement, and the rise of cultivated meat highlight the industry’s ongoing quest for sustainability.
Simultaneously, the influence of social media, the embrace of sobriety culture, and the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion signify an industry responsive to shifting consumer values. Amid supply chain challenges and inflation, brands continue to innovate with purpose, recognizing their role in addressing pressing global issues. As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of consumer preferences, the natural products industry remains steadfast in its mission—products that are not only good for people but also good for health and, ultimately, good for the planet.
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