A few weeks ago, I headed to the Natural Products Expo 2013 in Anaheim. I enjoyed last year’s expo so much, I went back for more this year! I was excited to see the new products being showcased as well as the big brands and their new products. The Wife and I are not vegan but I love vegan and vegetarian food. Thanks to my GERD, I have to watch what goes in my mouth carefully. (Get your mind out of the gutter, pervs.)
My strategy for my two-day visit was to focus on lifestyle products, healthier foods (veggie or otherwise), find tasty coconut water, and leave the rest behind.
Without further ado, let’s talk about the trends.
Gluten-free everything! Now, my pal K has two children who are allergic to everything. EVERYTHING – dairy, nuts, gluten, certain fruits, shellfish, the sun, the moon and the stars. (Just kidding about the latter three.) I found that while most companies had XYZ-free products, they still contained something that would make the kids allergic. (We continue the search for them!) If you only have a gluten or nut allergy, you are so in luck. There were many companies including Cybele’s, XO Baking Co, Kinnickkinnick, The Pure Pantry, and Home Free that offered flours, cookie/cake mixes, cooking ingredients that were free of gluten and/or other allergens. Not pictured: Domata cooking flours.
Coconuts are in. The Expo told us that. From coconut water companies to coconut milk ice cream to coconut products, you name it, there it was. Vita Coco is one of my favorite coconut water companies – they bought Coco Cafe, my very favorite coconut water product. At the Expo, they debuted an orange-flavored water, and it was tasty! (Not as tasty as my caffeinated coconut water but still refreshing!) In case you were wondering, yes, I believe there is crappy-tasting coconut water. Blue Monkey is not one of them. On the contrary, I found their product to taste great. I do wish they came out with a resealable can or bottle.
But wait, there’s more. You can also shovel coconut products in your face. Observe – Odwalla’s new chocolate almond coconut bar – that was some tasty snack bar! I brought this with me on a drive to Santa Monica and ate it while stuck in traffic. I tend to stay away from Odwalla because they’re hit or miss (too sweet, too full of nuts I don’t like), but this bar was a hit. Earth Balance showcased their coconut and peanut butter spread on some really dry bread. Bread aside, the spread was tasty and I made a note to pick up a jar for The Wife. At one of the booths, I was given a sample of Hearty Naturals‘ coconut oil. I still don’t really know what to do with it. Apparently, y’all have forgotten that I don’t cook.
Caffeine, I Love You
In addition to coconut water, I love me some caffeine in the form of coffee and coffee products. The Expo showcased companies that roasted their own beans – fair trade, eco-friendly – as well as drinks like Real Beanz, Bhakti Chai, and illy. One perk (no pun intended) regarding these products is that they’re not sweetened by stevia. I think stevia tastes like Sweet N Low – gross.
Other trends I noticed were:
- Chia seeds – as snack foods, as additions to your cereal, to bake with
- Snack bars, granola bars, power bars – smaller companies as well as the big dogs debuted their bar-size foods
- Soy seemed to be out of fashion this year – I saw a lot more coconut-based, almond-based, or something other than soy-based products
- Stevia-sweetened everything – I get the popularity of stevia, but what’s wrong with cane sugar?
- Yogurt – any which way you could make yogurt, there it was.
- Chocolate – lots of chocolate companies made their splash at the Expo – fair trade, eco-friendly, fruit-infused, special nuts, etc.
Next up, products that caught my eye. Stay tuned!