Natural Products Expo East
Photo courtesy of New Hope Network

BALTIMORE — The natural and organic marketplace is thriving, with food and beverage sales up nearly 11% to $67.2 billion last year, sparking increased attention to emerging brands and product trends.

Carlotta Mast, New Hope Network
Carlotta Mast, executive director of content and insights at New Hope Network

“I strongly feel that the natural and organic industry really is becoming the food industry and the C.P.G. industry,” said Carlotta Mast, executive director of content and insights at New Hope Network, in an interview with Food Business News. “As all of this money flows into the industry and so much attention is being paid, it is so gratifying to see these very purpose-driven companies leading the way with the impact we can have as an industry beyond just products.”

Expected to draw more than 25,000 attendees this year, Natural Products Expo East highlights the latest trends and innovations from more than 1,300 exhibiting brands in the natural and organic marketplace. New Hope Network produces the event, held Sept. 21-24 in Baltimore.

In advance of the event, Ms. Mast shared insights and trends in the natural products industry, including heightened interest from major food and beverage companies seeking a morsel of the growth. In the past year, such companies as General Mills, Kellogg Co. and Campbell Soup Co. established venture capital funds to invest in natural and organic food start-ups.

“I just see all of that gaining so much momentum, and it’s so nice because the fear could be, as all of this money flows in, that products become watered down from a quality perspective or brands are no longer able to pursue their mission, and I’m not seeing that happen at all,” Ms. Mast said. “If you were to look at brands like Epic or Annie’s, the impact they’re having on their parent company is pretty powerful. They’re leading their companies in the direction that these large C.P.G.s need to go from a value standpoint, a quality standpoint and a sourcing standpoint…

“I cannot wait to see the impact that our industry will continue to have and that these brands will be able to have as they have more resources and are able to have a greater impact.”

Read on for 10 product trends at Expo East.