Top 5 Food Trends at Expo West 2018
Natural Products Expo West brings out the best offerings in natural, organic, and healthy products. Today I’m recapping the top food trends at this year’s convention — from delicious new plant-based meals to dairy-free desserts.
It’s that time again! The massive bicoastal congress known as Natural Products Expo West went down a week ago, and naturally, I was the first one at the door waiting to grub.
The yearly gathering takes place over the course of four days at the Anaheim Convention Center and spans the market of natural, organic, and healthy products including food, supplements, beauty, and even pet products.
This year the convention showcased over 3000 companies.
As an RD, this event is a favorite of mine. I get to spend the weekend sampling delicious products, reading nutrition labels, and chatting with other food fanatics — a nutrition nerd’s dream come true.
As always, I was blown away by the innovation and excited about the strides many of these companies are making toward more ethical, sustainable food.
Want a little glimpse of what’s going on in the healthy food world? Here is my take on the top five food trends for 2018.
Top Five Food Trends from Natural Foods Expo West 2018
1. Vegan Ice Cream
Dairy-free desserts are on the rise, and this nice cream lover is all about it. Vegan ice cream is nothing new, but the number of companies who are acknowledging the fact that people want more plant-based options and expanding their product base to include them is increasing. This year several mainstream dairy companies displayed new lines of vegan ice cream to compliment their existing milk-based tubs.
However, I was most excited about the new coconut-based dessert bars from Daiya.
These melt-in-your-mouth treats taste just like real ice cream and come in four incredible flavors: Classic Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Fudge Crunch, Salted Caramel Swirl, and Espresso Coffee. In addition to being dairy-free, they’re all nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free, making them a good choice for children or adults with allergies.
Instead of nuts, they use pumpkin seeds to achieve that oh so crunchy ice cream bar texture.
2. New Plant-Based Milk Blends
Again, plant-based milk is not a new trend but finding new ways to produce it is. Many brands are branching out from traditional nut-based milk alternatives with bases such as almonds, cashews, or macadamia nuts, and incorporating ingredients that add more protein to the mix.
Suja Juice just announced they’ll be releasing their new organic Plant Protein Milk made from pea protein, sunflower butter, and flax seeds, this April. It has 8 grams of protein per cup and is fortified with calcium and vitamin D to match the amounts provided in cow’s milk.
3. Superfood Infusions
The inclusion of “superfood” adaptogens and anti-inflammatory herbs continues to be an incredibly popular trend in everything from crackers to coffee. While many of these supposed miracle ingredients lack the scientific backing to support their lofty claims, one spice that really lives up to its health-promoting hype is turmeric.
Studies show that turmeric may possess wide-spread therapeutic effects due to its antimicrobial and antimutagenic properties. I was excited to see several new products at Expo including this eye-catching ingredient including Nature’s Path new Golden Turmeric Cereal. The gluten-free, organic cereal is made with non-GMO corn, the ancient grain amaranth, and the super spice that turns your milk a pretty, vibrant yellow.
4. Plant-Based Convenience Products
With the rising interest in plant-based diets (thanks What the Health), consumers are looking for more easy options to incorporate animal-free, family-friendly food. Two of the main concerns I hear from clients who are trying to transition their diets to include more plant-based meals are:
- I don’t always have time to make vegan meals from scratch.
- I miss certain meat-heavy foods.
Companies have heard this loud and clear and this year’s Expo featured a plethora of convenient vegan meals that look and taste nearly identical to their classic animal-based counterparts.
Daiya, for example, launched a new line of plant-based burritos in delicious flavors like Santa Fe, Tuscan, Santiago, and Tex-Mex. The frozen burritos take two and a half minutes to defrost and are packed with nutritious ingredients like beans, quinoa, brown rice, and veggies. They’re all gluten-free and extremely tasty.
Daiya also debuted their new Meatless Meat Lover’s Pizza, which I brought home to my husband who declared, “WHAT. IS. THIS?” with the look of a salivating wolf who just caught a rabbit. Needless to say, it really tastes like meat.
5. Grain-free Chips, Crackers + Puffs
While I’m a HUGE fan of grains, I also totally appreciate the innovation that goes into creating products from grain-free sources. In many instances, this also results in using more vegetables and legumes as bases, which I’m all for.
This year’s Expo saw an increase in grain-free snacks made from all kinds of creative foods. A few favorites… Barnana shared their new Plantain Chips in a funky Salt & Vinegar flavor. Popchips showed off their new “Nutter Puffs” — Cheeto-esque puffed peanut butter, peanut flour, and non-GMO corn. And Sejoyia debuted their Coco-Thin cookies made from, you guessed it, coconut and cashews.
Weigh in: Have you ever been to Natural Products Expo West? Which of these food trends will you try?
*This post is sponsored by Daiya but all photos and opinions are my own. I thank you for your support of partnerships that make this website possible.