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Natural Products Expo West 2022: Key Trends and Takeaways

Natural Products Expo West 2022: Key Trends and Takeaways

Natural Products Expo West saw more than 2,700 exhibitors and 57,000 attendees at the Anaheim Convention Center. Photo Courtesy of Natural Products Expo.

The Anaheim Convention Center in California buzzed with an energy that hadn’t been felt since 2019, when the COVID-19 pandemic would soon end in-person events for the foreseeable future. But Natural Products Expo West 2022, a five-day event highlighting the latest natural and organic food and beverage products, saw more than 2,700 exhibitors nearly fill the 480,000 square-foot venue for the first time in over two years. 

The event’s success comes as no surprise considering that sales of natural, organic and functional food and beverage products in the US are on pace to surpass $220 billion by 2024, up from $100 billion ten years ago, according to Carlotta Mast, Senior Vice President and Market Leader at Informa Markets’ New Hope Network. Not to mention, this sector now accounts for 25 percent of total food and beverage sales.

Thanks in part to the growing popularity of natural, organic and functional foods and beverages, attendees were engaged, the convention center’s aisles were packed and the food and beverage industry networking events were fully attended. Here are some of the key trends and takeaways from Expo West 2022.


Related: Grandma Emily: How a Natural, Organic Snack Maker Survived the Pandemic


Mushrooms, Chickpeas and Dates

Odyssey’s Mushroom Elixirs.

Trending at Expo West 2022 were mushrooms, chickpeas and dates in many forms. Brands showcased snacks such as chips and jerky made with shiitake, king oyster and portobello mushrooms, as well as ready-to-drink organic mushroom elixirs infused with functional fungi like reishi, lion’s mane and chaga.

Chickpeas were featured in a variety of snacks and pantry staples spotted at the expo. The versatile bean was on display in allergen-free alternatives to mayonnaise, tzatziki and peanut butter. New at Expo West 2022 was Chickease, a brand of cooked snackable chickpeas in grab-and-go pouches with flavors including classic, barbecue and Tex Mex.

Often used as a nutritious sweetener in several applications like chocolate, protein bars, frozen desserts and pudding, dates were also prominently featured at the show. From a line of organic ketchup and barbecue sauces sweetened with dates, to snack packs of pitted dates featuring a peanut butter or almond butter filling, dates in all forms excelled at Expo West 2022.

Sustainability Remains Key

Several brands at Expo West 2022 exhibited plenty of innovation regarding sustainability, particularly in the plant-based space. Some brands at the show introduced products like plant-based chicken nuggets, ice cream and cheese, by leveraging ingredients like jackfruit, kelp, lentils and sunflower seeds.

ZenWTR.

Along those lines, standout products included liquid vegan pizza mozzarella, vegan eggs like those from JUST Egg or WunderEggs, and plant-based frozen scallops from Mind Blown. Upcycled brands like Renewal Mills, which upcycles byproducts from food manufacturing into superfood ingredients and premium, plant-based pantry staples, also had attendees talking.

Sustainability was also exhibited in the form of food and beverage packaging. Bottled water company Zen Beverage Co. uses recycled, certified Ocean Bound Plastic to help restore coastal environments. Similarly, Cocojune Products packages its organic, dairy-free yogurt products in paper-based cups and is working toward a compostable option.

Embracing Diversity

Another trend brought forward at Expo West 2022 was a celebration of diversity in the natural, organic and functional food and beverage sector. This comes as historically underrepresented entrepreneurs gain more shelf space and support, including Fila Manila Filipino American Kitchen, which produces pantry staples inspired by the Philippines’ most iconic dishes. 

Other brands in this category that gained attention included:

Fila Manila products.
  • A Dozen Cousins, which offers convenient meal staples based on Creole, Caribbean and Latin American recipes;
  • Twrl Milk Tea, a plant-based twist on a popular Taiwanese beverage made with organic, fair-trade tea and pea milk and infused with nitrogen; and 
  • Sanzo, a sparkling water brand featuring Asian fruit flavors like calamansi, yuzu and lychee, with no added sugar, artificial flavors or preservatives.

If attendance at Expo West 2022 was any indication, industry events seem to be back. While COVID-related safety precautions were still apparent, most of the 57,000 attendees seemed quite comfortable at the event, indicating that more in-person food and beverage trade shows, expos and events are likely to take place soon.