KANSAS CITY — Dozens of new products debuted at Natural Products Expo West Virtual Week, which ran May 24-27 and showcased thousands of products in the organic and natural foods segment. As the show opened, New Hope Network identified nine innovation trends it predicts will propel the industry forward.

Organic continues to be a “gold standard,” New Hope said, and brands are now going beyond certification to engage in policy to strengthen standards, expand organic acreage and educate consumers about their ecological journey. Organic companies also are making climate commitments and launching initiatives to support equitable supply chains.

Year-round immune support is top of mind amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and food and beverage brands are helping consumers boost their immunity with ingredients like vitamins C and D, antioxidants, ayurvedic herbs and natural plant-derivatives like mushrooms, elderberry and chlorophyll.

Products promoting peak brain performance are plentiful in new product launches. Brands offer claims to boost brain health with products designed to foster attention and focus, improve or maintain memory and regulate mood and behavior.

Gone are the days of the fat-free frenzy as consumers seek healthy whole fats as part of a balanced lifestyle, especially those adhering to a ketogenic diet. At the forefront are whole milk, ghee, coconut, avocado, nuts, vegetable fats and fats rich in omega-3s.

Nine trends listBlue screen technology is battling with consumer eyesight, so brands are innovating to address eye fatigue with ingredients that help strengthen and repair eyes, such as lutein and carotenoids, and stave off secondary effects of excess screen time such as difficulty sleeping.

Plant-based popularity continues to skyrocket, and food and beverage manufacturers are getting creative with their innovation in the space, catering to picky vegetable-avoiding children and adventurous adults alike. Plant-based dairy alternatives, meat replacements and all-plant meal kits abound.

Digestive health is a growing concern for consumers due to increased experience with food intolerances and digestive disorders as well as an increased understanding of the microbiome. Brands are developing products with digestive benefits like fiber, probiotics and prebiotics.

While consumers adhered to diets for weight loss in the past, consumers today are turning to specific diets to help resolve health issues, identify intolerances and reduce inflammation, New Hope said. To cater to these consumers, brands are designing products that are keto, low-sugar, low-glycemic, FODMAP, dairy-free, gluten-free and grain-free.

Clean label continues to climb in desirable traits in foods and beverages as consumers more deeply consider what they are putting into their bodies. Brands are stripping out ingredients and making products free from natural and artificial flavors, colors, thickeners, stabilizers, preservatives and other additives.

“We’ve seen a year of unpredictable challenges worldwide, but so much that’s good about the natural products industry has grown even stronger,” said Carlotta Mast, senior vice president and market leader at New Hope Network. “The natural and organic industry has continued to bring new products to market that bring more health to more people and to find ever more sustainable business practices that support the health of the planet.”

View slideshow of new products at Expo West Virtual Week.