BALTIMORE — No longer a niche, the natural products industry has doubled over the past decade, with total sales expected to reach $200 billion this year. Sales of natural, organic and functional foods grew 8% to $134 billion last year.

Carlotta Mast
Carlotta Mast, senior vice-president of content and insights at New Hope Network

“Compare that to the total food industry, which is a $770 billion industry, still much more sizable than natural, organic and functional, but stagnant with 0.5% growth,” said Carlotta Mast, senior vice-president of content and insights at New Hope Network. “We have a really powerful growth story to tell, and as we grow we have attracted the attention of all major C.P.G. companies and all of the major retailers.”

Drawing more than 28,000 industry professionals, Natural Products Expo East features the latest innovation from nearly 1,500 exhibiting companies.  During a presentation at the event, held Sept. 13-16 in Baltimore, Ms. Mast discussed several leading trends driving product development in the natural and organic marketplace.

“The snack trend is not losing steam at all,” Ms. Mast said. “It continues to shape a lot of the growth of the industry, and we see so much innovation and we continue to see lots of new ways that companies are taking on the snackification trend to provide a lot of convenience as well as nutrient-dense snacks.”

New snack bars on display at Expo East feature plant-based sources of protein, such as grains, nuts and seeds. An example comes from Enjoy Life, a Chicago-based subsidiary of Mondelez International, which is launching a line of crispy grain and seed bars made with sorghum and gluten-free rolled oats. Health Warrior, New York, is expanding its range of pumpkin seed bars, which contain nine ingredients or fewer.

“The hottest trend of 2017, and one that I’m so excited about, is one we call the plant revolution,” Ms. Mast said. “More and more consumers are turning to plant-based alternatives to traditional meat and dairy. And the number of new plant-based products that are popping up in these categories is unbelievable.”

Kite Hill, Hayward, Calif., at Expo East unveiled the latest additions to an already broad portfolio of premium plant-based products. The brand is launching almond milk yogurt tubes, Greek-style almond milk yogurt and drinkable almond milk yogurt.

Click for a slideshow of new products debuting at Natural Products Expo East