ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Digestive health benefits may now be found in toaster pastries, pepper flakes and all-purpose cleaner. These were among the items featuring probiotics on display at Natural Products Expo West, held March 5-9 in Anaheim.
Consumers are becoming savvier about microbiome and overall health, driving demand for food and beverage products formulated with live active cultures, said Jenna Blumenfeld, senior food editor at New Hope Network, which produces the Natural Products Expos.
“The products we’re seeing aren’t just added probiotics anymore; you’re seeing more products with prebiotics in them,” she said. “What’s very exciting to me is you’re seeing more fermented foods cropping up in unexpected places.”
An example is Picaflor Live-Culture Raw Fermented Pepper Flakes from Foremother Foods, L.L.C., Boulder, Colo. Varieties include cayenne and hot Portugal peppers, Bulgarian carrot pepper, jalapeño and relleno peppers, and criolla sella pepper. The company describes the pepper flakes as “raw, fermented, and slowly dehydrated to preserve enzymes and all that good-for-your-gut bacteria.”
Picaflor also offers single-serve packets of hot sauce fermented with live probiotics.
“I love the idea of fermenting things for flavor and also for microbiome support,” Ms. Blumenfeld said.
Gutsii, Los Angeles, provides a whimsical, indulgent approach to digestive health. At Natural Products Expo West, the company featured a line of chocolate bars and shakes formulated with probiotics and prebiotic fiber. Flavors include raspberry, pink salt and mint crisp.
Another exhibitor, Gutzy, New York, combines fruits, vegetables, oats and botanicals with prebiotic fiber in a range of portable pouch snacks. Founder David Istier credits a diet of plant-based foods and fibers for glowing skin and “a lighter, more energized me.”
“Our understanding of the health impacts associated with the makeup of a person’s microbiome is expanding beyond traditional gut health,” said Amanda Hartt, market research manager at New Hope Network, during a presentation at Expo West. “We’re making more connections to our overall cognitive function and various other health outcomes like immunity (support).
“There’s so many brands that are tapping into gut health, healthy microbiome space because they know consumers are looking to live a life that is more resilient, a life that is full of vitality.”
Fermenting Fairy, Santa Monica, Calif., introduced new items at the show, including apple cinnamon sauerkraut, lavender ginger lemonade and vanilla bean coconut milk kefir. Products are made with only raw ingredients and are organic, vegan, gluten-free and soy-free.
The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, unveiled Odwalla Smoobucha, a range of bottled beverages described as a smoothie combined with pasteurized kombucha, containing 500 million colony-forming units of “good” bacteria, according to the company. Flavors include citrus and guava, apple and greens, and berry and ginger.
“Our innovation strategy focuses on bringing trends from the fringe to the mainstream health and wellness shopper,” said Sara Smith, brand director. “Kombucha is growing 40% year over year, but can be polarizing because of its vinegary, tart taste. We saw this as the perfect opportunity for Odwalla to create a bridge for people who have been either intimidated to try kombucha or turned off by its taste.”
Another product launched at Expo West was Earnest Eats Pro Toasty, a toaster pastry featuring protein and probiotics. Flavors include chocolate, maple and strawberry vanilla. Each pastry has 9 to 10 grams of grass-fed collagen protein and an almond butter filling. The product has less than half the sugar of other toaster pastries, according to the company.
“Toaster pastries have been a staple in morning routines for years, yet the classic pastry most people remember from their childhood hasn’t evolved in decades,” said Andrew Aussie, president and founder of Earnest Eats, Solana Beach, Calif. “The toaster pastry aisle remains packed with options full of empty carbs and sugar and minimal protein and nutrition. Our new Pro Toasty is shaking up the breakfast categories by offering a higher protein breakfast that is a natural makeover on a sugary indulgence, blast-from-the-past breakfast crafted with complex carbohydrates, probiotics and a protein superfood filling to fuel your mornings.”
Nutrition bars are a popular format for probiotics and prebiotics. From Probar L.L.C., Salt Lake City, the new Probar Live bar contains nuts, seeds and dates, with 10 grams of plant-based protein and probiotics.
Rowdy Bars, Sparks, Nev., offers a line of snack bars made with yacon root, a prebiotic fiber. The latest addition to the lineup is a sunflower butter and berries variety.
Another Expo West debut was Core Bar from Core Foods, Los Angeles. Described as an organic probiotic overnight oat bar, varieties include lemon poppyseed, coconut cashew mango, peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter, blueberry banana almond and dark chocolate cherry.
“We are on a mission to deliver essential nutrition to our consumer's lives and aim to innovate within the snacking food category,” said Lance Collins, founder of Core Foods. “The new Organic Probiotic Overnight Oats Bar line is nutrient-dense and adds new expectations to the refrigerated bar category without mirroring any other bars on the market.
“Our goal is to provide high quality products without compromising taste. Core Foods has everything you need to make your core happy.”
Even non-food items showcased at Expo West by personal care and lifestyle brands boast microbiome benefits. Counter Culture, L.L.C., Solana Beach, makes probiotic, non-toxic household cleaning products developed to break down dirt, grease and grime while restoring healthy bacteria in homes.