Slideshow: Trends at Expo West

by Monica Watrous
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ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Ancient wisdom, transcendent transparency and values-driven shopping are three macro forces shaping the natural foods landscape.

Carlotta Mast, senior director of content for New Hope Natural Media, discussed the themes driving innovation at Natural Products Expo West held March 7-9 in Anaheim.  Natural, organic and functional products are outpacing total food sales growth, with category sales forecast to reach nearly $150 billion by 2018, Ms. Mast said.

“As you look around, you see there’s an awakening among consumers of the lack of control they’ve had with our food supply and now see that food is medicine and can have a huge impact on health and wellness in every aspect of our lives,” she said. “If you’re a manufacturer, perhaps you’re spending as much time figuring how you can simplify your products based on whole-food ingredients.”

Ancient nutrition is taking root in modern-day eating, fueled by a search for simpler labels. Also gaining importance among consumers, she said, is a desire for transparency in sourcing, manufacturing and even marketing.

“We now live in a world where bad news can go viral within a few hours,” Ms. Mast said. “Consumers can find with their phones what’s in your product and how you may rate among other companies… You better have nothing to hide.”

Product certifications, including gluten-free and Non-G.M.O. Project verification, and branded ingredients are ways to quell consumer curiosity.

Additionally, values are superseding value in purchasing decisions, as more shoppers pick products based on morals and missions.

“During the downturn, consumers became more price-conscious, but as the economy has improved, consumers are moving beyond prices and now this whole world of values and complexities affect buying decisions,” she said.

As a result, companies are connecting with consumers by demonstrating sustainability efforts and social causes.

Among thousands of products debuting at Expo West, several noteworthy new flavor and ingredient trends emerged. Here are ten.

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