Slideshow: Trends at Expo West

by Monica Watrous
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ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Though it is doubtful cavemen snacked on candy and ice pops, such new products abound for the popular Paleo diet — one of several noteworthy trends driving innovation at the Natural Products Expo West held March 5-8 in Anaheim.

Sales of natural, organic and better-for-you products in the United States are forecast to grow 64% from $153 billion in 2013 to $252 billion by 2019, according to a report from New Hope Natural Media and Sterling-Rice Group. The segment is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6%, more than double the projected growth rate of mainstream consumer packaged goods.

Among thousands of products debuting from more than 2,600 exhibitors at the 35th annual show, a number of significant flavor and ingredient trends have emerged.

Water, water everywhere

As beverage makers thirst for the mega success of coconut water, such creative concoctions as maple water, watermelon water and almond water are making a splash in the category. Olive water, birch water and artichoke water also were among the hydration innovations exhibiting at Expo West. True Nopal Cactus Water claims to contain less sugar and fewer calories than coconut water with a boost from betalain antioxidants.

A new line of flavored, caffeinated waters is debuting from Avitae USA. Made with caffeine derived from green coffee beans, varieties include pomegranate acai, tangerine, blackberry and strawberry guava.

Sustainability is the focus behind Boxed Water Is Better, a Michigan-based company that offers triple-filtered water in 100% B.P.A.- and phthalate-free cartons.

Protein 2.0

New food and beverage products are supercharged with higher levels and innovative sources of protein, from crickets to peas — as well as combinations of plant- and animal-derived protein.

Fit Patties from Pulmuone Foods, for example, have 17 to 18 grams of protein from chicken and soy.

Chickpeas and pea protein in Banza dry pastas provide 14 grams of protein per serving, twice as much as traditional pasta.

From D’s Naturals comes a line of vegan, gluten-free high-protein nutrition bars with no added sugar or artificial ingredients. No Cow Bars contain organic brown rice and pea proteins, prebiotic fiber, monk fruit and stevia, with 20 to 21 grams of protein and 160 to 180 calories per bar. Varieties include peanut butter cookie dough, mint chocolate chip and blueberry cobbler.

Gut feelings

Probiotics pop up in chocolate, cold-pressed juices and more, as digestive health remains top of mind for many consumers.

New this year are Mission Digestive Health Tortillas, Attune Probiotic Chocolate Bars, and Fast Track Nutrition Pro Cookies, all formulated with GanedenBC30, a probiotic developed by Ganeden Biotech. Debuting from Sweet Earth Natural Foods is the “Get Cultured!” functional breakfast burrito, which features a vegan blend of tofu, cabbage, mushrooms, ginger, red peppers and edamame, as the first frozen breakfast food to feature the patented probiotic.

Cultured and Saucy offers raw probiotic condiments that provide beneficial bacteria for digestive and metabolic health through a fermentation process. Varieties include ginger mint saffron, exotic five spice, lime and chili salsa and curry chutney with lime, ginger and turmeric.

Paleo evolving

The paleo trend is not new to Expo West; many products developed for the lifestyle, from seasonings to snack bars, were showcased last year. But paleo products have proliferated in natural foods stores.

Paleo Passion Pops are vegan ice pops made with kale, spinach, green tea, ginger, flax seed and chia seed. With only 60 to 90 calories per bar, varieties include pineapple ginger, orange mango, blueberry pomegranate and more. EatingEvolved makes primal chocolate bars and coconut butter cups with single-origin cacao sourced from the Dominican Republic and ground in small batches in New York. The products are free of gluten, dairy and soy and are lightly sweetened with organic, unrefined maple sugar. And Mikey’s Muffins are paleo-friendly English muffins in original, toasted onion and cinnamon raisin varieties.

Viva chia

This super-trendy seed stars in a number of innovative new applications, including World of Chia fruit spreads in strawberry, raspberry and blackberry flavors; Himalania organic chocolate-covered chia seeds in milk and dark varieties; Betsy’s gourmet nut butters with cinnamon and chia seeds; Daily Greens cold-pressed juice, Good Culture organic cottage cheese in strawberry chia and blueberry chia varieties; and Soulmaize gluten-free baking mixes.

Hello, avocado!

Boasting heart-healthy benefits, green fruit is busting out of its shell in such products as freeze-dried avocado pulp powder from Si o Si Superfoods, extra-virgin avocado oil from Bella Vado, and avocado cooking oil spray from Chosen Foods. A variety of Ruby Rockets frozen fruit and veggie pops features avocado, plus kiwi and spinach.

Calavo Foods manufactures AvoMayo, a lower-calorie alternative to mayonnaise, as well as chocolate mousse made with Hass avocados, rice milk, agave nectar, cocoa and vanilla extract.

New from the Earth Balance brand is a vegan avocado oil spread made with non-bioengineered ingredients.

Hemp heats up

From beverages to bars, hemp is a hot ingredient in products featured at Expo West. New offerings from Just Hemp Foods include toasted salted hemp seeds, hemp seed oil and 50% hemp protein powder.

Through its Tempt brand, Living Harvest offers a range of tofu, non-dairy milk and yogurts made with hemp, which is nutrient-dense and vegan-friendly with no known allergens, according to the company. Daily Greens offers two varieties of hemp milk, featuring such ingredients as blue-green algae, coconut nectar, camu camu and wheatgrass.

Evo Hemp makes raw, cold-pressed nutrition bars with hemp seeds in such varieties as pineapple almond, cacao dragonfruit, apple pecan, mango macadamia, cashew cacao and cherry walnut. Two Moms in the Raw has reformulated a line of granola and nut bars to include hemp seeds. The newest addition to the Pure Organic bar lineup is a vanilla almond bar made with quinoa, amaranth, flax and hemp.

Hope Foods, maker of high-pressure processed organic hummus, is rolling out a SuperHemp variety with 1 gram of protein per tablespoon, twice as much as the brand’s original hummus.

The Big Slice brand of ready-to-eat kettle-cooked apples has expanded with a new banana mango and hemp seed variety, featuring 5 grams of protein.

And Attune Foods, L.L.C. is debuting a new maple buckwheat hemp variety of ready-to-eat cereal from the Peace Cereal brand.

Tour de source

Blurring the lines between supermarket and farmers market, more brands are sharing the sourcing stories behind their products. Quinn Popcorn, for example, is launching new flavors of what it calls “farm-to-bag” popcorn. California Olive Oil and Popped with Coconut Oil are the latest additions in the ready-to-eat line. Each bag contains a batch number that consumers may enter on-line to learn the origins of each ingredient. Said Kristy Lewis, chief executive officer and co-founder, of the new products: “I believe in knowing where your food comes from, and it’s about time snack companies open up. Our supply chain transparency unravels the mystery of what’s actually going into our food, and it puts all of the information and power in the hands of the consumer.”

Choctal produces gourmet ice creams in four vanilla varieties (Mexican, Papua New Guinea, Indonesian, and Madagascar) and four chocolate varieties (Costa Rican, Ghana, Dominican, and Kalimantan). Each embodies the nuanced flavor profile of its respective region of origin.

The new Oh My Yog! layered yogurt line from Stonyfield features such ingredients as Pacific Coast strawberry and wild Quebec blueberry.

Flower power

Botanicals are bubbling up in beverages and beyond. Products on display at the expo include Green Garden’s new pomegranate hibiscus salad dressing, Natural Decadence gluten-free lavender shortbread cookies, Búcha Live Kombucha verbena rose sparkling fermented tea, and Bruce Cost Ginger Ale jasmine tea and pomegranate with hibiscus ginger ales.

Blossom Water, another brand featured at Expo West, offers a line of waters featuring fruit and flower essences in four flavors: lemon rose, grapefruit lilac, pomegranate geranium, and plum jasmine.

Down to the bone

Bone broth is back — that traditional protein-rich and nutrient-dense sipping broth made by slow-simmering animal bones. Pacific Foods launched organic chicken with ginger bone broth with 9 grams of protein and 40 calories per serving.

Another exhibiting brand, Real Bone Broth, offers organic chicken and beef varieties that are prepared in small batches and inspired by the slow food movement, according to the company.
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