Fresh from Expo West: 10 Top Natural Trends for 2019

    Globe-trotting trend watcher Nancy Trent reveals the innovative products and hot categories that caught her eye on the show floor.

    Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and editors of WholeFoods Magazine.


    The interest in naturals continues to evolve and capture the imagination of consumers. It’s an exciting time for the industry with the popularization of the plant movement, the emergence of CBD and shoppers’ obsession with wellness. The 2019 Natural Products Expo West, held at the Anaheim Convention Center, March 6 – 9, was a convergence of mainstay and up-and-coming brands vying for the spotlight.

    There isn’t a trade show that engenders as much passion as Expo West. Everyone who has ever been to an Expo West remembers it and thinks of their time there with great affection. Great news: The show continues to flourish under new management and to lead the way on natural alternative trends and products. 

    “Every year at Expo West we foster the connection between emerging brands who are impacting the landscape and industry pioneers who have paved the way for decades,” said Lacey Gautier, group show director at New Hope Network. ”This event highlights the importance of community engagement and the role everyone plays to create a more sustainable packaged goods industry. With so much to celebrate in organic agriculture and ethical business practices, you can feel the energy throughout the campus.”

    Here the top 10 trends spotted by globe-trotting trend watcher Nancy Trent:


    1.  CBD bubble or boom


    What’s happening with CBD is reminiscent of the internet bubble of the 90s…or is it?Everyone is racing into the game, but it’s not a game, it’s just the beginning of one aspect of the plant-based revolution we are seeing change the way we live. Just as the Internet bubble resulted in the failure of many individual companies but not the Internet industry itself, the CBD business is likely to thrive but not all of the many companies coming out with CBD products will survive.

    According to Sebastien Hebbelinck, founder of Prana Principle, “We are just scratching the surface of the potential of this revolution as we wait for guidance from the FDA.” Hebbelinck, who has been in supplements for over 25 years, began his career in the Netherlands and settled in Colorado as a sought-after expert. Hebbelinck figured out how to maximize the potential of CBD with a line of full spectrum hemp oil extract sublingual tinctures that contain non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids and synergistic compounds such as Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabichromene (CBC), and a range of naturally preserved terpenes. Terpenes is expected to be the next buzzword in plant-based healing.  

    Hebbelinck’s focus is crafting CBD tinctures without THC and he feels there is a lot of confusion in the market about full spectrum vs. broad spectrum, the safety of THC and claims that manufacturers can accurately make. But the country is moving forward and manufacturers need to be responsible to the FDA, retailers and consumers.


    1. Shots are the juice

    The juicing trend has reached an all-time high.  So has “the awareness of sugar content in our foods, including juice, which has lead to the ‘shot’ movement,” says Kristina Dermody, CEO of California Juice Company. Consumers and people that influence these trends have realized that most of the nutrients we need from juice can be consumed in one delicious shot. This has lead to the success of companies like California Juice Company. The California-grown, organic, nutrient-dense, premium full ingredient fruit and veggies are mindfully formulated to optimize authentic flavors and give the health we need in condensed servings. They are delicious, too!


    1. Putting more fun in Functional Foods 

    Just the Berries has a special species of Organic New Zealand blackcurrants, which are the most nutrient-rich berries in the world, used primarily for eye and vision health. They are very popular in Asia, as top baseball teams from Japan love this brand. Just the Berries is celebrating its 30th anniversary and is launching its first store in the U.S. 

    Likewise, Wishgarden Herbs, an almost 40-year-old whole herb company, combines the fast-acting power of its whole herb liquid extract formulas with an enjoyable social connection via remedy-drink pairings. “This takes wellness and lifestyle to a whole new level that delivers octaves on ‘functional drink’ efficacy and is also fun, tasty and shareable,” says Catherine Hunziker, CEO of Wishgarden Herbs. 

    Move over cauliflower pizza: “There can be no doubt that vegetable crust pizza is of interest. Who doesn’t want healthier and tastier pizza alternatives?” asked Benjamin Frohlichstein, CEO of Cappellos. The latest entry into that category is almond crust, with plant protein, healthy fats, nutrient-dense and grain-free pizza crust perfect for keto appetites.


    1. The new superfoods

    Buyers are inundated with snacks that are so smart, marketers have to find snacks that are not only Keto, protein-rich and grain-free but also have a certain  je ne sais quoi too. 

    “There is a focus on ingredients because people are reading labels and demanding better ingredients,” says Jeff Brinkhoff, CEO of Hopapops. For instance, lotus seeds, the main ingredient in Hopapops, are trending in Europe because they are a true ancient superfood with roots in Aryuvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for helping to maintain health blood sugar levels.

    Vegan, all natural TahiniBars are made of sesame seeds with amazing taste and texture, all for only 100 calories. The texture is so appealing, TahiniBars made an ad campaign around their smoothness called “my first crush.” 

    Brami Snacks, made with lupini beans from Spain, have more fiber than edamame and fewer calories than almonds. To make them even more appropriate for the U.S. market, they come in scrumptious flavors, too. How did we not know about these incredibly delicious wonder beans before?


    1. Focus on simply healthy ingredients

    Elma Farms latest introduction is POSHI, which stands for the “Power Of Simply Healthy Ingredients.” These plant-based snacks are gluten-free, non-GMO, convenient and low-calorie.  Everyone is talking about innovative fermented snacks!

    Much of the hummus we buy at the store is pasteurized by heat. Anyone who has had or has made their own fresh hummus knows that it’s all about the freshness of the ingredients. Starting out in farmer’s markets, discovered by Wegman’s, they continue to keep high standards for ingredients. “It’s not about flavor to catch attention,” said Chris Kirby, of Ithaca Cold Crafted.  He buys whole lemons and squeezes them in his hummus, which also includes raw garlic.   

    And when hummus is good, it’s easy to eat too much. That was the concept behind Blue Moose, one of the first organic snacking hummus with portion control 100-calorie cups and dehydrated carrot sticks. 


    1. Basics, made even better

    We all would be eating more beets if they were easier to work with. Thank you Beetroute from the Netherlands for sourcing the most delicious beets and doing the messy prep work. I know I will be eating more beets as you launch in the U.S. market.

    Another classic to get a fresh spin: Dates. Joolie’s, with the help of superior technology, produces the most succulent organic Medjool dates I have ever tasted.

    In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, the National Peanut Board partnered with Crazy Richards Peanut Butter to roll out an entirely new category with the introduction of its new frozen snack line, Wholly Rollies – Frozen Protein Balls. Wholly Rollies was developed to make healthy snacking simple. “As consumers continue gravitating toward snacking, the National Peanut Board is excited to be part of bringing new products to the freezer case. As a delicious, nutritious and portable snack, Wholly Rollies embodies everything consumers are looking for,” says Ryan Lepicier, SVP, marketing & communications, National Peanut Board.


    1. Brands that go above and beyond

    “Every year consumers get smarter and more discerning in their decision-making process, whether it’s non-GMO or vegan–these are specific values,” says Sabrina Banadyga, the chief marketing officer of EnerC. EnerC is a caffeine-free, low-sugar vitamin C supplement committed to the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

    Teatulia, a Bangladesh-based single-garden direct line of organic loose leaf teas, demonstrates a thorough commitment to sustainability by supporting a cooperative and establishing a cattle-lending program. In exchange for maintaining the garden, collective members (who are overwhelmingly female) receive cows instead of the more popular microfinance loans normally associated with Bangladesh. In return for fresh milk, members of the program pay down the loan with milk and cow dung which helps fertilize the tea garden. Teatulia is now introducing a totally innovative line of tea sodas. 

    It’s about time people started getting picky about their eggs. “There is an increased desire for eggs from chickens that are pasture raised,” said Ryan Miller of Farmers Hen House. People want more protein, they want better protein and they are willing to pay for it. Another reason these eggs are amazing is they only get eggs from authentic sustainable family farms that produce their grain to feed their chickens. And, their processing plant is 100% solar powered!


    1. Hydration cleans up

    Hydration was one of the hottest categories. We’re thirsty for natural ways to hydrate. Electrolytes are a great way to stay healthily hydrated, but they are hard to drink without calories, sugar, carbs or caffeine. That’s what lead to the success of Ultima Replenisher, a stick pack containing all 6 macro electrolytes without the things you don’t want. It’s made with all plant-based flavors, colors and sweeteners and vitamin C, another thing we like to add to our water.   

    One water company, Essentia, has done some rigorous testing to prove its hydration value.  A clinical trial, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN), showed Essentia has a 9.5pH or higher alkaline water that is better at rehydrating than regular water.


    1. Seriously smart supplements

    As people continue to push themselves to new limits, the use of brain-health supplements has become an expanding industry, with expected growth to $11.6 billion by 2024. Quality of life is dependent on the healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system. Meaningful improvements to cognitive function can impact the quality of communication and connection in relationships. It gives us more of the mental energy we might need to turn our good intentions, in areas like diet, exercise, and sleep, into reality. And, it supports our ability to adapt to environmental stressors. Neurohacker Collective, a company focused on creating best-in-class wellbeing products using a unique research methodology based on complex systems science, understands that different systems in the body don’t act in isolation. Neurohacker’s flagship product, Qualia Mind, is a premium nootropic used to help stimulate and support overall mental performance of the brain. Qualia Mind incorporates high-quality ingredients to ensure optimal results and transcend basic cognitive enhancement. Neurohacker’s brain supplements, while designed to support increased cognition, also are designed to improve the entire body to support peak performance.


    1. Chemical free, from cosmetics to OTC remedies

    Increasingly, people don’t want to put anything on their body they wouldn’t put in their body. And that means more interest in plant-based ingredients. But even plants can be processed. Skinny & Co provides one of the only chemical-free, additive-free, and non-acidic coconut oil in the world. Every product starts with handpicked, raw coconuts from the jungles of Vietnam, processed through a patented Nutralock System that keeps the oil cool and 100% raw. With 5 or fewer ingredients in each product, these cleansing balms, body scrubs, deodorants and more, are proving that healthy really is beautiful. 

    As the use of essential oils continues to rise with more people leaning toward natural methods of care, Oilogic says its three collections are safe and impactful for babies & toddlers, kids and adults. A trailblazing leader in family natural wellness, Oilogic Essential Oil includes the right concentration of each powerful oil, diluted appropriately to create a safe, yet effective formula that is ready for use.


    Natural Products Expo West 2020 will be held March 3rd-7th at the Anaheim Convention Center. Natural Products Expo East will take place at the Baltimore Convention Center September 11th-14th, 2019.

    Follow @NatProdExpo and #ExpoWest on Twitter and Instagram, and visit us on Facebook for ongoing conversations.

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    Nancy Trent is a writer and speaker, a lifelong health advocate, a globe-trotting trend watcher and the founder and president of Trent & Company, a New York-based marketing communications firm with an office in Los Angeles. Trent & Company, which launched many fitness brands, grew out of Nancy’s personal commitment to helping people live longer and healthier lives. A former journalist for New York magazine, Nancy has written seven books on healthy lifestyles, serves on the editorial boards of several magazines and travels around the world speaking at conferences and trade shows on trends in the marketplace. She is a recognized expert in PR with more than 30 years of experience creating and managing highly successful campaigns. Nancy can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through e-mail at You may also visit