There’s no better place to see just how much the world of wellness has grown than the very pulse itself: the annual Natural Products Expo West, a four day event in Anaheim.
If you’ve never been to Expo West, it may be hard to fully grasp its magnitude. Just imagine walking into a Whole Foods, except instead of food on the shelf, you have booth after booth filled with all the people behind each product, ready to chat about their latest and greatest. I first ventured to the event back in 2004, and have watched Expo grow from “big,” to absolutely overwhelming – luring over 70,000 people. This year, after a three long days, two weeks of groceries in sample-size form, ten miles of aisle walking, and one lost voice, I’ve collected a handful of the biggest trends coming out of this ever-expanding industry. Here’s what to look for heading your way:
#1 Lots of Cold Coffee
There’s no shortage of companies adding ready-made chilled coffee beverages to their lineup – each aiming to master the precious bean. Cold brew is the new norm, with refrigerated bulletproof-style and vegan lattes dominating the scene, promising a smooth flavor and long-lasting energy. Stand-out product: Immordl – a paleo and vegan-friendly elixir made with nitro-infused coffee, healthy fats from coconut, and combined with energizing superfoods like chia, maca, and rhodiola. This stuff is liquid luxury – seriously.
#2 Turmeric Everything
The gold star ingredient of this year’s expo is, well, golden. With its days of being a forgotten spice officially over, turmeric is finding its way into all kinds of products, ranging from snacks to sports drinks. A known anti-inflammatory nutrient rich in antioxidant activity, many companies proudly tout its inclusion in their line-up. Stand-out products: Laird Superfood Turmeric Creamer – Take your superfood lattes to the next level with this healthfully crafted powder, enriched with turmeric and calcium-rich algae. Or for a more intensive approach, try the Temple Turmeric Pure Prana Turmeric Shot, which uses whole, fresh turmeric for a wickedly effective drink.
#3 All-In-One Blends
Any smoothie lover knows a daily blend often comes with a litany of ingredients, as well as questions around nutritional balance and taste. To help simplify the practice, many companies are developing powdered mixes that prove you really can “have it all” in the name of well-structured foods and delectable flavor, all inside of a single scoop. Stand-out product: Navitas Organics Essential Superfood Blend – Composed of natural plant proteins like golden flax protein and hemp protein (and no creepy isolates, thank you very much), probiotics, greens, superfoods like goji and camu, and sweetened with monk fruit (coming in at just 2 grams of sugar per serving), this new product is the epitome of functional food.
#4 Pill-less Probiotics
Probiotics and the importance of gut health have taken the wellness world by storm, and natural food companies have taken notice. Breaking out of the capsule and into food stuffs of all varieties, not only are probiotics a buzzy brag for packaging, they also help with nutrient absorption, making health products more effective. Stand-out product: Farmhouse Culture Kraut Krisps – They may look and crunch like normal chips, but, in fact, these snacks are made primarily from sauerkraut! Additionally, they’re sprinkled with a probiotic seasoning to offer a total of 1 billion probiotics per serving. Shockingly delicious.
#5 Effervescent Drinks
If the success of kombucha has anything to tell us, it’s that a little bit of bubbly makes healthy practices that much more addicting. Many companies are adding this feature to their products as we see a definitive shift of health food getting downright fun. Stand-out product: Amazing Grass Green Superfood Effervescent Greens – Add these little tablets to your water bottle for an instant fizzy drink that tastes like fruit and is packed with top-tier superfoods and herbs like wheatgrass, spirulina, oregano, and elderberry.
#6 Better Milk
The non-dairy milk movement is showing no signs of slowing down, and with sales soaring, the competition is fierce. But that hasn’t stopped many manufacturers to look for unique ways to improve the nutrition and flavor of these beverages even further … and in some cases, they’re definitely succeeding. Stand-out products: Ripple – a non-dairy milk made from peas(!), with a super-smooth viscosity and 8 grams of protein per serving. Also new and noteworthy is Vita Coco Coconut Milk, which uses both coconut flesh and coconut water to produce a superior, well-rounded flavor.
#7 Companies With A Conscience
It’s not enough to simply make a health product, if the product isn’t also healthy for those who produce it, as well as the planet. Perhaps the most exciting trend to see at Expo West, is discovering more companies who are committed to positive social and environmental change. As the term “natural products” becomes increasingly diluted, I believe this characteristic is ultimately what will separate the “good” healthy products on the shelf, from the truly great ones.
Note: Many of the products listed are brand new, making their grand debut at Expo West. They may not be on store shelves quite yet, but look for them in the next couple of months!