5 takeaways from Natural Products Expo West 2022
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Natural Products Expo West 2022 was a welcome moment of normalcy for the food industry.
The Anaheim Convention Center was buzzing with an energy that hadn’t been felt since 2019 — when the term “coronavirus” hadn’t yet entered the global lexicon. Before the five-day event wrapped up last Saturday, more than 2,700 exhibitors filled the approximately 480,000 square feet of the site and attendees filled the building with palpable excitement.
Attendees were engaged, the convention center aisles were packed, and the week’s industry networking events were well attended.
Expo West 2022 had an undeniably exciting atmosphere.
Among the reasons for this excitement were countless innovations in categories such as natural and organic foods and beverages. Here are five key takeaways from the event.
Natural and organic foods and beverages are growing faster than the industry average, with growing consumer interest in health and wellness driving expansion. Natural and organic food sales are expected to surpass $300 billion by 2024 and $400 billion by 2040, according to New Hope estimates.
Sustainability remains a major trend. Several brands are encouraging regenerative farming practices and the industry is demonstrating many innovations in sustainability. This is especially true in the plant space, with brands producing products like chicken nuggets, ice cream and cheese, leveraging ingredients like jackfruit, lentils, chickpeas and sunflower seeds. .
In this sense, the most notable products were liquid vegan mozzarella pizza from Myoko’s Creamery, vegan eggs such as those from Just Egg or Wunder Eggs and plant-based scallops from Mind Blown. Meanwhile, recycled brands with a mission, like Renewal Mills, also got attendees talking.
Brands embrace diversity. Brands that celebrate diversity seem to be gaining momentum. Products in this category that caught the eye included:
- Deep Indian Kitchen Herbal Chik’n Tikka Masala
- Fila Manila Filipino American Kitchen’s Ube Purple Yam and Coconut Jam
- Fly by Jing Sichuan Chilli Sauce
Functional nutrition has its time, witness new snacks and drinks. Products with health benefits that claim to help consumers think and relax are gaining prominence, leveraging Siberian ginseng for energy or ashwagandha, an herbal remedy believed to help users manage their mood, memory and their stress, for example.
Brands are reinventing comfort foods and inspiring nostalgia. Several brands introduced forward-thinking products that build on traditional comfort foods, like Belgian Boys French Toast, Chubby Snacks Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich and Goodles Cheddy Mac. These types of snacks with a modern twist are gaining popularity.
Meanwhile, if attendance at Expo West 2022 was any indication, industry events are back. While COVID safety precautions were still apparent, most attendees seemed quite comfortable at the in-person event.
Attendance at this year’s Expo West, around 57,000 attendees, was significantly lower than the estimated 85,000 people who attended the 2019 show, as reported by foodprocessing.com. Still, the rally was impressive and a clear sign that in-person events are back.
Editor’s Note: Joseph Chen is the CEO of research and knowledge management consultancy Leo & Dragon and previously worked for Mondelez International, McDonald’s, Hershey, Unilever and Kraft. Brian Choi is CEO of The Food Institute.