Natural Products Innovation: 5 Trends to Watch from Expo West

    From Regenerative Agriculture to Plant-Based and more, trend-spotter Nancy Trent shares what's new and what's next!

    Vegan, creulty-free natural products are trending.

    After a long two years, Natural Products Expo West 2022 was finally back in person and better than ever. The show was full of exciting, better-for-you brands that are revolutionizing the wellness sector, filled with unique ideas and improved functional products. They are being eco-conscious through plant-based ingredients and applying regenerative and sustainable methods to their production and design.

    It is certainly an exciting new era for the food and beverage industry. You need to be a business with elements of sustainability, plant-based products, healthier alternatives, convenience, and modern indulgence, otherwise you may not capture the buyer’s attention and you may not succeed in these changing times. Verlinvest’s Executive Director, Clément Pointillart, shared his thoughts on emerging food and beverage brands: “They are faced with the challenge of not just checking one box, but all of the boxes—offering products in unique and interesting formats that are better for you (mostly) and better for the world. Brands showcasing responsible sourcing, waste reduction, more plants, less sugar, fewer carbs, and optimistic, mission-driven behavior were on display throughout the halls of Expo West.”

    Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Sunrise Strategic Partners, Vincent Love, said, “It was great to reconnect with everyone—founders, management teams, other investors, etc., after more than two years. The energy was amazing and there were so many exciting brands impacting meaningful change.”

    Companies are now more transparent with their vision and their goals. The main focus is improving consumers’ lifestyles as well as the planet’s health.

    Just a few of the trends we spotted in the naturals industry that you can expect to see more of in 2022 and beyond:

    1) Positive Impact for People & Planet

    Made from upcycled barley, Take Two Barleymilk is a unique alternative plant-based milk option rich in nutrients (protein & fiber, zero sugar, low carb), great texture (good for drinking, cooking, and frothing), great taste (close to whole milk). Plus, it is better for the environment (rescued from beer-brewing process).

    GENZ Water is a company founded by boomers who want to focus on simple, plain water. Their goal is to appeal to people who never owned a flip phone by providing them flavorless, transparent liquid in aluminum bottles in order to be more sustainable. They hope to leave behind more happiness and less everything else.

    Whether you’re a chef or a home culinarian, PaperChef’s parchment paper is a sustainable choice. This brand started cooking with parchment paper and the world is catching up.

    Eden Foods began in the late 1960s sourcing natural food stemming from an interest in macrobiotics, the centering of one’s eating around whole grain and seasonal local plant foods that are not chemically adulterated or nutrient-depleted. Eden also partners with local farmers and pays them directly.

    Purple Pastures Lavender Farm provides reusable lavender sachets. The packaging and product are environmentally friendly, as it’s all recyclable and compostable. It has only one ingredient, lavender, so it’s non-toxic.

    Offering a new superfood to add to  smoothies, salads, desserts, dip or main dishes, Seeds of Wellness produces high-quality chia seeds and offers a diversified range of superior chia products. Seeds of Wellness makes it easy to enjoy the benefits of one of the better-known ancient superfoods in the public. They use regenerative agriculture to help reverse climate change. Their fields are irrigated 100% naturally with rainwater. They do not use any chemical products, they take care of their workers and the environment and they use the method of direct sowing, preserving the structure of the soil and organic matter.

    Anthem Oats is a five-generation family farm bringing premium oats straight from the South Dakota fields. They practice regenerative and sustainable farming in order to preserve the land for generations to come.

    OBA Snacks offers delicious organic foods where the main ingredient is apple. They proudly make their bread, crisps and snacks for their table and yours. Every single batch of their unique product is made with care and special attention at their own manufacturing plant in Northbrook, IL. Their goal is to provide new, innovative products for food enthusiasts who regularly shop for new, healthy, tasty food options.

    Made by families for families, Glenda’s Farmhouse gives you that warm feeling of coming together to celebrate food and each other through their delicious, nutritious and high-quality tree nuts. Glenda’s prides themselves on taking care of the land they use by practicing regenerative and bee-friendly farming, upcycling and innovating the market.

    2) International Flavor & Culture

    Family-owned and -operated, Botticelli has deep Italian roots leading back four generations to the island of Sicily. Their ancestors were local farmers and grocers dedicated to the art of Italian food. They are committed to bringing authentic and indigenous Italian flavors to your home by sourcing their ingredients only from Italy to bring you premium sauces, oils, vinegars in order to craft an authentic Italian meal at home.

    Dah! India-Inspired yogurts are crafted with wholesome ingredients and slow-cultured for flavor, richness, and high probiotic content. Their spotlight product is their Lassi which is a rich and creamy slow-cultured yogurt smoothie and high in probiotics and satisfying to the last drop.

    Delava Snacks makes the authentic, mouthwatering flavors and textures of the Middle East convenient with their flaky and delicious Baklava, made fresh with organic and natural ingredients.

    Sea Salts of Hawaii is a small business that creates locally sourced and uniquely flavored Hawaiian Gourmet Sea Salts. They offer a range of culturally meaningful and authentic Hawaiian products. Their Deep Ocean Water is prized by chefs around the world for its purity, beauty and delicate flavor.

    Thaiwala is sourced from a small, tea farm in Northern Thailand. Heather Howitt, creator of Oregon Chai, now brings us delicious tea that is natural, made with organic, non-GMO ingredients, and certified Kosher Thai tea concentrate.

    After resounding feedback in their restaurants, Dosa decided to package their sauces to bring regionally inspired Indian sauces to your home. You can enjoy their Tikka, Butter, and Kerala Coconut sauces that use simple ingredients to make the customer and the planet happy and healthy.

    Founder Hidehito Uki came to Hawaii from Tochigi, Japan in 1981 with just one suitcase, a single noodle machine, and a passion for sharing high quality, Japanese noodles. Sun noodle was born and made entirely unique, fresh and flavorful.

    3) Focus on Function

    We have seen functional beverages for a long time but this year companies took it a step further incorporating them into food, vitamins, supplements and more. Brands are being more intentional with the ingredients they use in their products to make sure they each have an added benefit.

    West Coast Naturals is a Canadian company that is dedicated to providing convenient and natural health supplements to help alleviate the symptoms of a wide variety of concerns, and they strive to provide quality solutions for busy schedules. They have a carefully curated collection of products all designed with the consumer in mind to help them tackle multiple functions at once.

    BevPax has created some of the most innovative functional beverages to date and is introducing its own pioneering brands. For refreshment, performance, function, or hydration, BevPax has a drink for you.

    Miraflora originated from a 160-acre organic farm in Boulder County. It’s one of the original Colorado homesteads and it has been family-owned and -operated for more than a century. They cultivate hemp flower and hand-pick it. They “feed” their organic hemp pure snowmelt from Rocky Mountain National Park and all-natural, organic Alpaca Gold fertilizer from their alpaca herd. They then extract it into premium full-spectrum CBD oil, which they bottle and blend into their HempFlora products, like moisturizers, beverages and pet treats.

    Kowa is a mood-boosting tonic with adaptogens and nootropics. This indulgent sparkling tonic combines four functional ingredients to naturally boost your mood. This brand has a vision of creating the balanced lives that we envisioned for ourselves – mentally, emotionally and physically.

    On a mission to distress a stressed out world and become “the Red Bull of relaxation,” Leilo combines kava root extract with I-theanine and vitamin B6 in order to promote relaxation, balance and well-being.  

    BioSil is a vegan-friendly dietary supplement that contains choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid, a uniquely effective, nutrient complex clinically proven to activate biological pathways that generate your own collagen, elastin, and keratin. BioSil works primarily by activating and supporting enzymes your body naturally uses to make these proteins. BioSil also helps protect collagen by neutralizing homocysteine, a metabolite that destroys collagen and elastin throughout the body and suppresses new collagen and elastin production. As a result, results are noticeable in hair, skin, nails, bones, joints, and oral health.

    Mindright makes energy bars to fuel your mindset with the power of adaptogens, antioxidants and nootropic-infused superfoods designed to boost, your mood, energy and focus. They also have a supercharged investment team lead by celebrities including the Jonas Brothers, Travis Baker and Marcus Lemonis.

    This ancient Latin American superfood, jicama, with powerful gut and immune-boosting benefits reawakened Xicama Life’s delicious sparkling waters that are packed with prebiotics, vitamins, and antioxidants. Their products support the gut, foster immune health, promote heart health, and reduce risk of disease.

    For 160 years, Nelson’s highly respected healthcare products including Bach Original Flower Remedies and Rescue stress relief and sleep aids have helped people with a wide range of issues. They are based on the belief that the key to overall health is to care for the mind as well as the body. These natural healthcare products have certainly stood the test of time.

    4) Plant-Based Plus

    We have been seeing the plant-based trend evolve and advance over the past few years. Now it isn’t enough to be just plant based, you need to do something extra, something different, something innovative.

    Women-owned and family-operated since 1987, Big Mountain Foods has been ahead of the plant-based curve and continues to innovative with real, simple, delicious allergen-free foods. They reduce their environmental impact by using renewable resources and minimizing waste. Upcycling allows them to transform by-products into new value-added functional products. Their sustainable processing standards conserve thousands of liters of water per year. Partnering with local farmers reduces their carbon footprint and supports their mission of environmental sustainability from the ground to the shelf.

    Revolutionizing the sports cream and pain relief industry, Elixicure brings you natural, plant-based pain relief products made with organic ingredients that are 100% powered by plants. They are on a mission to replace the legacy brands with a more natural option that doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. Feel instant relief for muscle pains, aches, arthritis and more.

    Madly Hadley is on a mission to help pioneer a plant-based future, Chef Madelyn Hadley created the original vegan bacon. This brand makes traditional and nutrient rich coconut bacon that contains no animal products because plants can bring just as much flavor in a healthier and kinder way. They only use high quality ingredients, and their products are organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and soy-free because health, the environment and animal rights are at the forefront.

    Kadenwood’s family of brands support provides plant-based wellness solutions for every walk of life. From the golfer dad to the family dog, they have started with a line of plant-based CBD products to enhance wellness, immunity, recovery, sleep, mobility for humans and pets.

    5) Transparency on the Label

    Alzoo, a new brand from natural pet experts with a 50-year heritage in France, introduces natural and effective insect, flea and tick repellents, home and pet cleaners that work, and soothing, calming sprays that keep cats, dogs and horses clean, comfortable and happy.

    Churn Foods uses only the finest grass-fed, hormone-free, non-GMO, high butterfat European style butter from California. Their chef-crafted recipes and all of their butters are designed to be incredibly flavorful on their own and have a multitude of culinary applications.

    Ritual Zero Proof is the liquor replacement with zero calories, zero alcohol, and zero regrets. The goal was to replace liquor and add a new tool to your cocktail kit all while caring about what we put in our bodies and the safety of the planet. Their products are all-natural, allergen-free, and their packaging and shipping practices minimize waste.

    The Natural Group is muscle recovery evolved. They use high strength and high quality biomagnets for all skin types and is designed to remove muscle and joint pain. It’s 100% natural and can be used anywhere at any time.

    Related: Check out more 2022 Trends