Note: This post reflects my personal opinion, not the opinion of Cocoburg LLC as a whole. I did my best research and fact-checking for accuracy. Take all of this information with a grain of salt, and do what feels best for you! For more information, please read our full disclaimer.
Meg here...food industry expert, lover of all things CPG and the new Social Media & Marketing Manager here at Cocoburg! I headed down to Baltimore with the team for Natural Products Expo East to investigate the rising food and beverage trends in 2018 and noted a few major themes that were pretty consistent across the board...
Plant-based food is not only reserved for people following a vegan diet. Nowadays, many health conscious consumers are also choosing to follow a plant-based lifestyle because of the health benefits. Vegan jerky is paving the way - order your coconut jerky today! I have been seeing the plant-based yogurt by Laava pop-up on my Instagram feed pretty frequently. Their yogurt is low carb, completely dairy-free and made with simple whole food ingredients including Pili nuts, plantains, coconut, cassava and real fruit with zero added sugar. OWYN (Only What You Need) was one of the brands that really impressed me. Their major differentiator (other than being totally delicious) is that they are a Top 8 Free brand, meaning they test each product batch and each ingredient for any traces of the top 8 allergens - tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, fish and shellfish. Rare to find a vegan/plant-based product that is also nut free!
Healthy Fat is Our Friend
The ketogenic diet focuses on healthy fat (avocado, nuts, coconut MCT's), low carb, no sugar foods. Since the keto craze has hit the market, we now know that not all fats are created equal and several food and beverage companies are capitalizing on this loyal customer base. I tried Suzie's Love Good Fats bars which honestly tasted like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and got "the skinny on fat." Our bodies need fat in order to feel full and satisfied and increased intake of healthy fats has positive health effects including increased energy levels, clear skin, and elevated mood.
(Yorke, Susan. "healthy fats and keto and lchf" Suzie's Love Good Fats, 13 Jan. 2018, https://suziesgoodfats.com/blogs/news/h1-style-color-b8114e-healthy-fats-and-keto-and-lchf-h1)
Eating Evolved has their very own keto cups (100% cacao on the outside, coconut butter with added MCT's on the inside) and Fat Snax has been dominating the e-commerce world with their low carb cookies and MCT matcha tea.
I saw a lot of food and beverage brands dedicated to making meal prep easier, especially in the frozen category. Caulipower unveiled a new product line Sweet Potatoasts and they're doing it for the gram (Instagram that is). Every blogger who has ever tried to make sweet potato toast on #toasttuesday knows that this is indeed life changing. Nolita was all the buzz in Baltimore adhering to the cauliflower everything trend with their new Caulibites, a healthy take on the classic tater tot.
Heat and Serve
Meal prep is all the rage with the category other than frozen being heat and serve. Cece's Veggie Noodle capitalized on the growing popularity of butternut squash being used in vegan mac recipes. The result... a delicious, fresh tasting vegan mac with butternut squash "shells" that take on a pasta-like consistency. Upton's Naturals was promoting their meal kits with innovative flavors like Thai Spaghetti and Massaman Curry. These meals are ready to eat within minutes, giving Rachael Ray and her 30 minute meals a run for their money.
The mushroom trend was pioneered by brands like Host Defense, Om and Four Sigmatic with products including extracts, chocolates, lattes and tinctures. Some new players have recently entered the mushroom market and are changing the game completely. Savory Wild featured their Portabella Jerky with delicious flavors including Sweet Balsamic and Golden Fig and Pan's Shiitake jerky is available in other flavors like Zesty Thai and Applewood BBQ. Shrooms Snacks is definitely my favorite product from the show. Their product line includes savory Crispy Mushroom Chips and Shiitake Jerky in flavors like Smokey BBQ, Pizza and Fire Roasted Jalapeno and sweet Mushroom Granola Bars. What were your favorite natural products from this year's Expo East? Let us know and see you out West in March! Can't wait until March, order some coconut jerky today!