BALTIMORE — A prominent theme of product innovation on display at Natural Products Expo East is convenience. Natural and organic food brands are developing snacks and meal shortcuts designed to maximize nutrition and minimize preparation time, said Carlotta Mast, executive director of content and insights at New Hope Network, which produces the show.

“We’ve got this ‘always-on’ culture that’s in constant need of fuel but also increasingly demanding snacks that are convenient, tasty, as well as nutritious, made with whole food ingredients and simple ingredient lists,” Ms. Mast said in an interview with Food Business News.

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

An example showcased at Expo East, held Sept. 21-24 in Baltimore, is new Cello Cheddar Whisps from Schuman Cheese. With 10 grams of protein per serving, the product features cheese baked into crispy bites and was developed in response to “overwhelming consumer demand,” according to the company.

Way Better Snacks is expanding its line of sprouted tortilla chips with a chipotle barbecue variety, featuring chipotle peppers, purple sweet potatoes and sprouted chia seeds and quinoa. Like the brand’s other sprouted snacks, the product is certified gluten-free, Non-GMO Project verified and 100% whole grain.

In addition to snack innovation, brands are introducing more mealtime solutions, such as simmer sauces, packaged seasoning kits and more.

“A growing number of brands are making healthy products that make cooking at home much easier,” Ms. Mast said. So you might have a really nice meal that seems like it took a lot of time to prepare, but it was something you were able to whip together quickly with these types of products.”

At least two exhibitors at Expo East unveiled nutritious alternatives to traditional dry pasta. Banza has added spaghetti to its range of chickpea pasta, which is gluten-free with 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving, and Explore Cuisine is introducing Organic Red Rice Pad Thai Noodles and Organic Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles, packaged in portion-controlled, 2-oz nests for added convenience.

Click for a slideshow of new products debuting at Expo East.