Seattle, Washington | March 15, 2017 – Meridian Capital’s Food and Beverage team recently attended Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. The conference is the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products event with more than 80,000 attendees from all around the world and 3,100 exhibitors. The four-day event included multiple keynote presentations, networking opportunities, and a diverse array of exhibitors ranging from global industry leaders to hot, trending new entrants.
Ingredients you can see (and ‘sneaky’ ones you can’t)
Expo West boasted a significant amount of companies with snack products that showcased whole ingredients such as nuts, grains, and fruits. Instead of a wheat-based binding platform for these snack bars, many products are utilizing figs and dates as a binding agent to enable a portable, non-messy snack option. In addition to the more obvious flavors and ingredients, an increasing number of products contained “hidden” vegetables, herbs, and spices that promoted healthy digestion, increased vitamins and minerals, and improvements in other key activities such as vision or sleep.
Clean label meat (and seafood) snacks
Protein-rich and paleo trends are driving significant demand for clean meat snack options. Organic jerky has expanded significantly from traditional beef to include chicken, lamb, pork, and vegetable-mixed options. Discussions with several companies signaled the importance consumers are placing on clean, organic, and natural meat products and even the substitution of traditional snack bars with meat snack bars containing combinations of meat and vegetables to offer a unique, portable meat-based snack option. In addition to food products, bone broths and drinkable soups are also gaining popularity as nutrient-rich options for snacking. (See Products From: The New Primal, Slant Shack, and Wild Zora)
‘Free-from’, specialized diet products expand depth and variety
Health-conscious consumers have extended their expectations for products that exclude certain food sensitivities such as dairy, gluten, or animal products. Improved taste profiles and flavors, more nutrients, and cleaner labels are quickly capturing a market of individuals that may not necessarily have allergies or diagnoses but are becoming increasingly attuned to the quality, sourcing practices, and origins of the products they buy. The diversity of options has drawn new interest and created an array of alternative products from fresh to frozen.
Changing the negative image of fats
Healthy fats, derived from coconut oil, palm oil, and some dairy fats, contain medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and have recently become more popular with the health and fitness community to promote sustained energy and mental clarity as a replacement or addition to coffee and other drinks. Ready-to-drink options such as Wonder Fuel provide an on-the-go, healthy, low sugar alternative to energy drinks and supplements.